Zimbabwe Central Bank sells assets

By Nqobile Charles Bhebhe

Posted on June 7, 2011 12:56

Zimbabwe’s bankrupt central bank is offloading shares in seven of its assets that include manufacturing, energy, and financial companies in a desperate bid to clear its huge debts.

The debt, which has accrued over years since the appointment of President Robert Mugabe’s personal banker -Gideon Gono as the bank’s boss, is estimated at US$1.5 billion.

Close to US$15 million is expected to be raised by June 10, the closing date for bids.

In a notice published by the central bank, Tractive Power Holdings (where the bank has 58.7 per cent shareholding), Tuli Coal (70 percent), Transload (50 percent), Sirtech Private Limited (65 percent), Homelink Money Transfer (100 percent), Carslone Enterprise (100 percent) and Astra Holdings (64.9 percent) are the targeted companies.

Tractive Power and Astra are both listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

The bidding process is “open to all Zimbabwean citizens, locally registered companies as well as to foreigners and externally registered firms subject to the indeginisation laws of the country.

“In the case of individuals and bodies corporate wishing to acquire any of the assets under disposal, proof must be submitted relating but not limited to nationality and residency of the bidder as well as demonstration of ability to pay for the assets being acquired,” said the notice.

Several creditors, local and foreign, ranging from suppliers of agriculture inputs have in the recent past attached the bank’s property.

The southern African country’s central bank also owes other regional central banks including Malawi Central Bank ($20m), Reserve Bank of South Africa ($10m) and Equatorial Guinea ($222m).

The money was used to finance quasi fiscal activities, which Mugabe’s government says were meant to bust sanctions imposed by Western countries.

And although 1 500 workers have been retrenched for the bank to stay afloat, Gono says the financial problems have not eased.

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