Barclays, Impala in Indigenisation Talks With Zimbabwe's Government

Barclays plc and Impala Platinum Holdings Limited have received letters from the Zimbabwean government regarding submissions made to meet a requirement to sell half their local units to indigenous Zimbabweans.

London-based Barclays, the UK’s second-largest lender by assets, and Johannesburg-based Impala didn’t disclose details of the letters.

Zimbabwean media is reporting that indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere had written to the two companies and several others giving them two weeks in which to produce plans on how they will dispose of 51 percent of their Zimbabwean units or risk losing their operating licenses.

“We remain in ongoing dialogue with the ministry,” Barclays said in an e-mailed statement.

“Our submission is confidential.”

Other companies that were given the same demand by Kasukuwere, according to the newspaper, were Standard Chartered plc, Zimplats Holdings Limited, Duration Gold Limited, Caledonia Mining Corporation, Rio Tinto plc, British American Tobacco plc , Nestle SA and Cargill Incorporated.

Zimbabwe’s central bank has no immediate or foreseeable intention to withdraw operating licences of banks in the country, Governor Gideon Gono said in a statement on the bank’s website. The bank could not speak for other industries, he added.

He clashed with the minister over these utterances. The minister said the rule of law has to be respected.

Zimbabwe issued a March 25 decree giving foreign companies 45 days to explain how they will sell 51 percent of their assets to citizens of the country. The decree followed approval of the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act.

About 700 companies have submitted their indigenisation plans to the government. If accepted, the companies have five years in which to dispose of their shares, according to the government.