Eight vie for NettCash stake

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Brainworks Zimbabwe founder and CE George Manyere

Brainworks Capital is jostling to snap up a controlling stake in local mobile payment company NettCash, businessdigest has established.

Taurai Mangudhla

Seven other regional and foreign companies are said to be in the race to acquire NettCash.

Brainworks — a Mauritius-registered, investment holding, consulting and advisory company focused on Zimbabwe and select markets in Sub-Saharan Africa — last week swooped on NettCash, a mobile money platform.

Internal sources said the investment company was tipped to emerge as NettCash’s suitor due to its financial muscle. The sources also indicated negotiations were at an advanced stage with the deal expected to be concluded by end of next month.

However, the sources would not be drawn to disclose the quantum of the investment NettCash is eyeing, but indicated the company wants enough capital to be able to compete with the country’s established mobile money platforms which handle billions of dollars annually.

“Look, what I can only tell you is the company is looking for big investment and not these small amounts like US$5 million so that it is able to compete with the likes of Econet’s EcoCash, Telecel’s TeleCash and NetOne’s OneWallet,” said a source who requested not to be named. “It’s part of NettCash’s expansion strategy going forward.”

Among the eight companies, internal sources said, are locally listed entities, regional and international players in the financial services sector looking to expand their footprint and diversify their portfolio.

In a telephone interview last week, NettCash CE Darlington Kutenha denied claims Brainworks had bought 51% of NettCash, saying the Mauritian-registered company was just among a list of potential suitors.

“Look I do not comment on hearsay,” said Kutenha.

He however confirmed his company was in negotiations with Brainworks.

“The thing is we are talking to a number of companies and Brainworks is just one of them.

“At this stage, I cannot say much because we signed confidentiality agreements and in any case, nothing material has been agreed on with any of the companies, it’s just like wooing a lady,” Kutenha said.

He said they were considering various models to secure the investment including giving the new partners some equity in the business.
“You are aware that Mozido Africa invested in Nettcash last year and they have significant shareholding so what may happen is the new investor comes in to dilute both our shareholding,” he said.

Brainworks Zimbabwe founder and CE George Manyere would not be drawn to comment on the progress of negotiations, referring all questions to NettCash officials.

Efforts to get a comment from Mozido’s head office in Texas were fruitless at the time of publishing.

Brainworks is a diversified group with investments in financial services under recently listed micro-finance institution GetBuks Financial Services Limited, Gesture Insurance and Brainworks Advisory and in hospitality under African Sun.

The company also has real estate investments under its Dawn Properties and also runs a logistics business FML Oil Company of Zimbabwe.

Last year, Brainworks set shop in Equatorial Guinea to tap into opportunities in that market.

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