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Zimbabwe Disposing of Controlling Stake in State-Owned Agricultural Bank

  • Gibbs Dube

Sources said the government is negotiating with Amalgamated Banks of South Africa, Botswana Cooperative Bank, Standard Chartered Bank of South Africa and a fourth bank for the disposal of the shares

The government is close to striking a deal with several African commercial banks to sell 60 percent of its controlling stake in the Agricultural Bank of Zimbabwe following the successful privatization of the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company or Ziscosteel.

Sources said the government is negotiating with Amalgamated Banks of South Africa, Botswana Cooperative Bank, Standard Chartered Bank of South Africa and another unidentified bank to sell the shares. They said a deal will be sealed soon to allow Agribank to access lines of credit from international financial institutions.

Plans are also underway to sell off a 50 percent government stake in state enterprises such as Air Zimbabwe, National Railways of Zimbabwe, the Grain Marketing Board, Cold Storage Company, the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, NetOne and TelOne. Most of these parastatals are said to have become major drains on state resources.

Economic commentator Bekithemba Mhlanga said privatizing Agribank will stimulate the farming sector which following land reform has been suffering for lack of credit.

A Mauritian firm, Essar Africa Holdings Private Limited, a subsidiary of India's Essar Global Limited, recently purchased a 60 percent stake in Ziscosteel, based in Midlands province, which collapsed in 2008 after making heavy losses for years.

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