Johannesburg - A war of words between Impala Platinum
holdings [JSE:IMP] and Zimbabwe intensified on Thursday, when the world’s
second-biggest platinum producer denied offering to hand over a stake in its
local unit to the government.
A senior Zimbabwean minister told Reuters on Wednesday
Implats had agreed to cede the 29.5% stake in Zimplats under a new law to
transfer majority ownership of foreign companies to local blacks.
Implats said this was not the case.
“Implats has not made an irrevocable offer to the Zimbabwe
government today,” the company said in a two-sentence statement.
Implats has argued that the stake, worth more than $300m,
need not be handed over because it was promised "empowerment credits" for
mining rights it returned to the Zimbabwean government in 2006.
Senior Implats executive Johan Theron said that as far he
was aware no letter had been sent to Harare, but the Implats board would meet
on Friday to discuss the issue.
“A range of options will be put to the board,” he said,
adding that Implats remained committed to finding a solution to the problem.
Implats shares have fallen 3.3% since February 22 when
Zimbabwe issued the company with an ultimatum over the Zimplats stake. Rival
Anglo Platinum [JSE:AMS] has dropped 1.9% over the same period.