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Zimbabwe takes aim at banks

Jul 03 2012 11:41 Reuters

Company Data

STANDARD BANK GROUP LIMITED [JSE:SBK]

Last traded 138.98
Change 2.08
% Change 0.02
Cumulative volume 1863519
Market cap 225.13bn

Last Updated: 17/04/2014 at 04:28. Prices are delayed by 15 minutes. Source: McGregor BFA

IMPALA PLATINUM HOLDINGS LIMITED [JSE:IMP]

Last traded 121.45
Change 2.46
% Change 0.02
Cumulative volume 949336
Market cap 76.78bn

Last Updated: 17/04/2014 at 04:28. Prices are delayed by 15 minutes. Source: McGregor BFA

NEDBANK GROUP LIMITED [JSE:NED]

Last traded 221.59
Change 4.45
% Change 0.02
Cumulative volume 343564
Market cap 113.89bn

Last Updated: 17/04/2014 at 04:28. Prices are delayed by 15 minutes. Source: McGregor BFA

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Harare - Zimbabwe has given foreign-owned banks one year to hand over 51% stakes to locals, according to a government notice, as President Robert Mugabe ramps up a drive to force all foreign-owned businesses to surrender majority control to blacks.

A government notice released last week said all foreign-owned banks with a minimum net value of $1 had one year to reduce their shareholding to 49%.

The southern African state has already forced mining companies such as Rio Tinto and Impala Platinum Holdings [JSE:IMP], the world’s second-largest platinum miner, to turn over majority stakes in their local units to black Zimbabweans.

Emboldened by his success against miners, Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere is now targeting banks.

Kasukuwere, a member of Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party, has clashed with central bank governor Gideon Gono and Finance Minister Tendai Biti over the banking sector.

Biti, a senior member from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party and Gono, a Mugabe ally, have opposed Kasukuwere, arguing Zimbabwe only has four foreign banks out of 26 financial institutions.

Kasukuwere could not immediately be reached for comment but he has previously vowed to pursue foreign banks, which he accuses of refusing to provide loans to the agriculture industry and small black businesses.

“Foreign banks are safe because they deny you funding... so we have got to transform them,” Kasukuwere was quoted as saying by the private NewsDay last Thursday.

Standard Chartered Bank, Barclays Bank and South Africa’s Standard Bank Group [JSE:SBK] and Nedbank Group [JSE:NED] all have operations in Zimbabwe and would be affected by the latest regulations.

Zanu-PF has been criticised over the past decade for patronage when seizing white-owned farms. Critics say many farms are now in the hands of party loyalists instead of the landless black peasants who were supposed to benefit.

Critics of the takeovers of mines and banks say Zanu-PF is using the policy to try and win votes ahead of elections which will be held in the next 12 months.

The government notice also said private schools, which used to be a preserve for whites but are now largely multi-racial, should in the next year be majority owned by blacks.

The majority of Zimbabweans attend government-run schools, which are only starting to recover after a decade of economic crisis left the schools without books and teachers, who sought employment in neighbouring countries.

The energy, tourism and telecommunications industries also have to comply with the empowerment law in the next year.

 
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