TRANSPORT and logistics group Unifreight Africa Ltd is on the cusp of taking over the local unit of a regional tyre manufacturing and distribution company TrenTyre, businessdigest has learnt.
Sources close to the developments said Unifreight had approached the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listing committee seeking approval for the acquisition of a 49% equity in the business.
TrenTyre is one of the largest tyre service providers in Southern Africa and was established in 1948. It sells and manufactures new multi-brand tyres, retreaded tyres, wheels and allied services.
Sources said Clan, which is wholly-owned by Unifreight, currently has a 51% stake in Tredcor Zimbabwe trading as TrenTyre.
“Unifreight is looking at acquiring total control of TrenTyre. The transaction is now awaiting the nod from the ZSE,” a source familiar with the transaction said.
Unifreight majority shareholder Hamish Rudland declined to comment on the transaction, referring questions to the company’s chairperson or secretary. ZSE CE Alban Chirume also declined to comment citing confidentiality.
In December, Unifreight issued a cautionary statement announcing that it was engaged “in negotiations that may result in transactions that could have a material impact on the value of the company’s shares”.
In 2014, the company increased its stake in TrenTyre. “The company was an associate of Pioneer and the transport and logistics company recently acquired 10% equity in the business from Goodyear and its affiliates thereby bringing it under our local control,” the group company secretary, Moreblessing Mukamba said in a notice.
Pioneer had 41% shareholding in Tredcor Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd trading as Trentyre Zimbabwe.
“The directors of Pioneer Corporation Africa Ltd, in response to cautionary statements released on the 20th March, 2014 and 7th August 2014 are excited to announce the acquisition of a controlling interest in Tredcor Zimbabwe (Pvt) Ltd trading as Trentyre Zimbabwe through Clan Services (Pvt) Limited,” Mukamba said.
Unifreight local operations include Swift Transport, Bulwark, Unifreight Engineering & Heavy Haulage and Skynet.
The group decided to close its subsidiary, Pioneer Clan (Botswana) (Pty) Ltd, based in Francistown, Botswana in 2014 and it ceased to operate in 2014. The cost of ceasing this operation to June 30 2015, was US$82 000.
At the same time, the board resolved to sell Pioneer Transport (Pvt) Ltd to the management and workers of that company for nil value. Pioneer acquired Unifreight in December 2013 before rebranding to Unifreight Africa Ltd.
Unifreight Africa Ltd (formerly Pioneer Corporation Africa Ltd) was incorporated in Zimbabwe in 1970. It is a holding company of a group of companies primarily involved in the road transport industry whose activities include inter-city freight consolidations, the distribution of general goods and an international courier service.
Other entities in the group are incorporated in South Africa and Mauritius. Pioneer Coaches, a former division of Pioneer Transport (Pvt) Ltd was transferred to Pioneer Coaches (Pvt) Ltd, with effect from January 1 2015.
Unifreight was listed on the ZSE in 2003. The group recorded an operating loss of US$1,214 million for the six months to September 2015 from continuing operations compared to US$476 000 in 2014. The group also recorded a net loss after taxation of US$2,29 million which included US$1,076 million of losses from discontinued operations.