LonZim to spend $65m on Zimbabwe assets

Investment group LonZim plans to spend $65-million buying Zimbabwean assets this year as interest in the once-wealthy nation reawakens in the twilight of President Robert Mugabe’s rule.

An end to Mugabe’s rule could make the once-wealthy nation appealing again, foreign investors say.

“Any kind of stability brings commercial dividends,” LonZim executive director Geoff White told Reuters in a telephone interview. “Zimbabwe will become an economic powerhouse again one day.”

LonZim plans to raise $50-million within the next four to six weeks in an institutional share placement to help it buy assets in the technology, banking, transport and agro-processing sectors, White said.

“We invest in key sectors to take part in the growth of Africa,” White said. “We plan to become a large industrial conglomerate in the country.”

LonZim floated on London’s junior AIM market in December, saying at the time it would invest in companies in sectors best placed to benefit should there be radical improvements in Zimbabwe’s economy.

The listing was viewed with scepticism at the time, its announcement coming a week after Zimbabwe’s Parliament passed a law that would allow the government to seize control of any foreign-owned company.

LonZim is 20% owned by South Africa-based natural resources and infrastructure firm Lonrho.

Mugabe, who lost control of Parliament for the first time since independence in 1980, has been widely blamed for Zimbabwe’s economic collapse.

The former liberation war leader gave the country the world’s highest inflation rate of more than 100 000%, a virtually worthless currency and severe food and fuel shortages.—Reuters

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