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S. African Retailer Massmart Issues Warning on Zimbabwe Indigenization Plan

The South African newspaper Business Day quoted Massmart CEO Grant Pattison as telling reporters at a Sandton news conference that 'ultimately for Massmart, if the indigenization act is left where it is, we will have to pull out'

The chief executive officer of South African retailer Massmart, which US giant Walmart Stores has offered to buy for US$4.6 billion, told reporters at a news conference in the Sandton business district of Johannesburg the company would pull out of Zimbabwe if its government goes ahead with indigenization as planned.

Business Day quoted Massmart CEO Grant Pattison as saying that “ultimately for Massmart, if the [Indigenization and Black Empowerment Act] is left where it is, we will have to pull out.” The comment came in response to a question from a reporter at a news conference in Sandton on Monday.

Reached by VOA for confirmation of the comments attributed to Pattison, a Massmart spokesperson responded that Massmart would “need to reconsider its position on Zimbabwe” if indigenization as now contemplated proceeds.

Massmart runs Makro warehouse stores in Harare, the capital, and Bulawayo, the country's second-largest city.

Indigenization Minister Saviour Kasukuwere told VOA Studio 7 reporter Tatenda Gumbo that consultations have been held with companies in the country about the law but he has not held such talks with Massmart.

Economist Dany Ndlela commented that the departure of such a large regional player as Massmart would have a dampening effect on foreign investment in Zimbabwe.

Last month Walmart floated a non-binding proposal to purchase Massmart, marking the global retailer's largest offer and potentially heralding its entrance into the African market.

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