Barclays bank maintains that it is ‘indigenised’

BARCLAYS Bank Zimbabwe Limited says engagements with Government to meet indigenisation thresholds are “ongoing” and an amicable and acceptable agreement is expected soon.

But the bank has maintained it had already indigenised, after it offered a 30 percent stake to indigenous Zimbabweans in 1991 on listing on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. Managing director Mr George Guvamatanga told an analysts’ briefing while announcing the bank’s financials for the year ended December 2011 that they did not view themselves as a foreign bank.

“After 100 years of operations in Zimbabwe, we don’t see ourselves as a foreign bank,” he said.

“But there have been various engagements with the indigenisation ministry and the discussions continue.” When Barclays listed on the ZSE, 25 percent stake was offered to locals while the remaining 5 percent was ceded to workers under the employees share option scheme.

Mr Guvamatanga said the 30 percent that was made accessible to locals, in addition to the 100 years they were committed to serving the community made them “compliant” with the country’s equity laws.

“We do not view ourselves as a foreign bank,” he said “We were the first bank to bring smaller shareholders into the group. We have come this far and we are confident that all issues at hand today would be resolved.” Government is determined to indigenise all foreign-owned mining companies, before moving on to the banks. There have been conflicting sentiments that Indigenisation Minister Saviour Kasukuwere should approach the sensitive sector with caution. But the minister has stated Government would go ahead and indiginise the sector.

Barclays, together with Standard Chartered Bank and Stanbic Bank, was one of the companies given an ultimatum to meet indigenisation thresholds, with Stanchart opting to give away just 10 percent of its stake and have a minority listing on ZSE. According to the plan, Stanchart wanted to transfer 5 percent of its shares to employees and another 5 percent to Stanchart Local Pension Fund. Stanbic was also asked to honour its pledge to localise 30 percent shareholding as agreed when it acquired ANZ Grindlays (Zimbabwe) in 1993.

The bank was expected to inject US$1 billion into the economy within a period of five years to enhance empowerment of indigenous Zimbabweans. Government rejected the banks’ proposals because they fell short of the indigenisation requirements which demand that foreign-owned companies, including mines, sell at least 51 percent of their equity to indigenous people.

Banks which fail to comply with the equity laws risk losing their operating licences.-The Herald

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