Zim empowerment: Cambria's indigenisation proposal under fresh scrutiny

Zimbabwe's Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere (right) will reassess the London-listed company's proposal. (AFP)

Zimbabwe's Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere (right) will reassess the London-listed company's proposal. (AFP)

London-listed Cambria Africa Plc's indigenisation plan could face new hurdles after Zimbabwe's indigenisation minister said he would reassess the company's proposal to comply with empowerment legislation, despite saying last year that it had met the requirements.

Minister Saviour Kasukuwere told the Mail & Guardian that Cambria's indigenisation plan needed to be revisited. "I've seen a number of transactions by Cambria; every day there's this restructuring, there's that restructuring … Our officers are in touch, are in contact with Cambria to make sure they comply with the indigenisation law," said Kasukuwere.

Cambria's country representative  Nyaradzo Mudzamiri refused to comment on the matter.

The development could also affect Cambria's planned listing on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE), which has been held up by the ZSE's demand that the firm and its Zimbabwean unit, Celsys Limited, first publish financial statements for the year to August 31 2012. 

Cambria Africa, formerly known as LonZim Plc, is listed on the London Stock Exchange, where it will retain its primary listing. It intends to reverse-list on the Zimbabwean bourse through Celsys, in which it held a 61% stake before buying out minorities under a scheme approved by the high court and sanctioned by Kasukuwere's ministry, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the ZSE.

Celsys was suspended from the ZSE in August last year pending the proposed listing of Cambria, whose controlling shareholder is the London-listed Lonrho.

Cambria has majority stakes in companies operating in Zimbabwe and neighbouring Mozambique.

Cambria's ZSE listing plans came to light in August 2009 after its directors survived a shareholder revolt that called for the wholesale disposal of its Zimbabwean assets. The listing plan stuttered until last year, when Cambria said it would acquire the entire shareholding in Celsys in order to secure a public listing in Zimbabwe.

Then, in May last year, Kasukuwere announced that his ministry had been impressed by Cambria's proposed listing plan, which he said would lead to compliance with the indigenisation law. Market watchers were stunned by the remarks, as Cambria's public proposals did not appear to meet the requirements of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.

"The changes that they are proposing will lead into their indigenisation plan, which they have submitted. It is one of the first companies to comply and we are happy," Kasukuwere said at the time.

"They have also written to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe [RBZ] and the RBZ has sought our confirmation. They have a very comprehensive document where they are offering shares and scholarships. We have no problem with LonZim [Cambria]."

 Zimbabwe's Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act requires all foreign-owned companies operating in Zimbabwe to give up at least 51% of their shares or interests to indigenous Zimbabweans.

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