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Impala Holdings Makes 'Irrevocable Offer' to Avoid Zimbabwe Nationalization

  • Gibbs Dube

Zimplats has already handed over 10 percent of its shares to local community trusts, and offered to transfer a further 5 percent to a staff trust fund, and an additional 6.5 percent to a sovereign wealth fund

Impala Platinum Holdings, the world's second-biggest platinum producer avoided a potentially-damaging clash with the Zimbabwean government Wednesday after committing a 29.5 percent stake in its Zimplats unit to indigenous people in compliance with a stringent empowerment policy.

"They wrote to us today making an irrevocable offer to comply and seeking an extension of the deadline to Tuesday to allow the Implats board to meet this Friday, and we have accepted it," Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere told Reuters.

Harare has been pushing Implats to hand over majority control of Zimplats to black Zimbabweans under its controversial economic empowerment law.

There was no immediate comment from Implats.

Zimplats has already handed over 10 percent of its shares to local community trusts, and offered to transfer a further 5 percent to a staff trust fund, and an additional 6.5 percent to a sovereign wealth fund.

Implats owns 87 percent of Zimplats, which accounts for about 10 percent of its production.

Earlier, South Africa’s industry minister had said the besieged company could utilize provisions of an investment protection agreement between Pretoria and Harare to avoid seizure of its assets by government.

Minister Rob Davies was quoted as saying though Zimplats had not yet approached his ministry for advice, there were a number of remedies available under the Bilateral Investment and Protection Agreement.

The bilateral agreement has not previously been helpful though. Members of President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party violated the accord when they seized farms owned by South African citizens during compulsory land acquisitions that started in 2000.

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