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Zimbabwe Narrows Field for Prospective Strategic Partner for Troubled Ziscosteel

  • Gibbs Dube

Sources said the firms include ArcelorMittal Private Limited of South Africa, Jindal Steel and Power of India, China Sonangol International Holdings Limited, Bright Star Limited of Mauritius and a mid-sized South African steel-maker

Five international steel companies including some of the largest in the world have submitted bids for a major stake in the moribund and debt-laden Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, official Harare sources said Monday.

The sources said ArcelorMittal Private Limited of South Africa is on the short list of bidders, though its previous offer was rejected by the Zimbabwean government which said the firm was too big to be a suitable partner.

The other top bidder is Jindal Steel and Power of India. Its bid several months ago also failed to fly as Harare said the company did not specify how it would deal with Ziscosteel’s US$300 million debt.

Others include China Sonangol International Holdings, Bright Star Limited of Mauritius and a mid-sized South African steel maker. Some sources said that Indian-registered Bright Star is tipped to win the bid.

Industry Minister Welshman Ncube said he is evaluating the bids after receiving them from a state-appointed technical committee. Ncube told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube he will draw up his own recommendations before submitting the bids to the national unity government principals later this week.

In other economic news, Tourism Minister Walter Muzembi said activity in his sector has increased by some 7 percent over 2009 levels at this point in the year. But economists said 7 percent growth from such a low base is not significant, adding that further reforms must be put in place to spark a stronger recovery.

Economist Eric Bloch told VOA Studio 7 reporter Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye the pickup is very modest given the starting point when the economy bottomed in early 2009, and will have little impact on the broader economy.

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