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5 bidders vie to snap up Lafarge Zim

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At least five bidders have tabled offers to snap up Lafarge Zimbabwe, one of the country’s leading cement makers, it has been established.

The development comes  after Swiss-headquartered cement giant, Holcim Group, announced plans to sell-off some of its assets across the globe, including Lafarge Zimbabwe.

The Holcim Group holds 76% shareholding in Lafarge Zimbabwe through its subsidiary, Associated International Cement. Other significant shareholders include the Farlow Trust (2.59%), Turner Roy (2.54%), the Sasko Trust (2.10%), the Standard Chartered nominees (1.97%) NSSA (1.80%) and Stanbic nominees (1.02%).

Multiple sources at Lafarge Zimbabwe and Holcim Group who are familiar with going-ons, confirmed the development to Business Times  that there was intense deal making with a consortium led by a local business tycoon, three Chinese firms, including cement giant, Huaxin Cement, and one African billionaire, having  tabled takeover offers.

“Five bidders have been short-listed and deliberations on their capabilities is underway. We expect a winner to be announced soon,” one source told Business Times.

It is understood that Huaxin Cement, one of China’s biggest cement manufacturers, is favourite to clinch the deal as it has previously done business with Holcim.

Recently, Huaxin bought Lafarge Zambia and Lafarge Malawi. In 2020, Huaxin  also bought Marvini Limestone in Tanzania.

Holcim has already sold part of its Ghana business and disposed of its Brazil unit.

Contacted for a comment on the matter, Lafarge board chairman, Kumbirayi Katsande told Business Times: “It’s a shareholder issue. It’s happening in Switzerland. When its concluded an announcement will be made.”

However, in a cautionary statement few days ago, Lafarge Zimbabwe company secretary, Faith Sithole, told shareholders and investing public to exercise caution when dealing in Lafarge shares as there was a pending transaction.

“Shareholders and members of the investing public are advised that Associated International Cement Limited has received certain offers for its 76.45% stake and the company is still assessing such offers. The transaction, if successfully concluded, may have a material effect on the company’s securities.

“Accordingly, shareholders and members of the investing public are advised to exercise  caution when dealing in the company’s securities until a full announcement is made,” Sithole said.

In the past 12 months, Lafarge Zimbabwe has been battling severe headwinds in many fronts.

The then CEO, Precious Nyika, made a shock exit in September to pursue personal interests after 18 months at the helm.

Nyika was replaced by Geoffrey Ndugwa who was the CEO of Lafarge Malawi, which has since been sold to Huaxin.

Lafarge Zimbabwe’s mill plant also collapsed, halting operations between October 2021 and February 2022.

Consequently, Lafarge Zimbabwe swung into a loss ZWL$695m in the 12 months to December 31, 2021 from a profit position of ZWL$5bn reported in the previous year.

Its top line plunged 35% to ZWL$7.2bn from ZWL$11.1bn achieved in the previous year.

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