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Delta facing foreign payments challenges

Delta Corporation, which vies with Econet Wireless Zimbabwe Ltd. as Zimbabwe’s biggest company by market capitalization, is facing “challenges” paying international creditors and shareholders as the southern African country grapples with a foreign-currency shortage.

“We currently owe about US$30 million to both our shareholders and some of our creditors,” Chief Executive Officer Pearson Gowero told analysts in the capital, Harare, on Wednesday. The brewer has set aside $120 million in cash to repay debt, he said. “We have been in talks with monetary authorities so that we can come up with an amicable solution.”

A shortage of foreign exchange after a collapse in exports has caused a liquidity crisis that’s forced the government to delay worker payments. Zimbabwe abandoned its own currency in 2009 to end hyperinflation and uses mainly dollars, with rands, euros, pounds and several other currencies also accepted as legal tender.

The holding up of payments to foreign suppliers and shareholders has delayed the commissioning of sorghum beer plants in Masvingo and Kwekwe, which should now begin producing in December, the CEO said. The plants were due to be commissioned by October to increase volumes of the Chibuku Super brand, the Harare-based Source website reported in July.

Gowero denied that Coca-Cola Co. will exit Zimbabwe following the takeover by Anheuser-Busch InBev NV of London-based SABMiller Plc, which owned 23% of the company.

“Coca Cola has no intention of leaving the Zimbabwe market and negotiations are going on at shareholder level,” he said. While Anheuser-Busch doesn’t bottle soda drinks in Europe or Africa, it does in Brazil, Gowero said.-Bloomberg

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