Announcing the deal, the minister, Savior Kasukuwere, said it was similar to the Marange/Zimunya Community Share Ownership Trust where surrounding communities are supposed to benefit from the diamonds. It would also benefit the Buhera and Makoni communities, he said.
“We are very happy that Ariston has done this gesture of good and more corporates should do the same,” said Kasukuwere, whose ministry has forced foreign-owned companies to make payouts for community development in areas where they are operating.
Meanwhile, the company has had to defer its relisting on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. ZSE Chief Executive, Emmanuel Munyukwi, said last month it was a pity Ariston had not been doing well on the bourse and had to defer its relisting.
Munyukwi said Ariston had not informed the Securities and Exchange Commission of the full details of their Rights Offer, which has been postponed. “It could happen anytime this month,” he added.
“They (Ariston) had some holes in their documentation and the Securities Commission wanted more details. This is very unfortunate because for the first time we have a local company attracting foreign investment in the name of Afrifresh Holdings Limited from South Africa. Probably they should have done more research before rushing with the Rights Offer,” Munyukwi said.
Afrifresh Holdings confirmed that it would inject much needed cash as well as underwrite the $8 million Ariston Rights Offer. Last year Ariston made a $2 million loss, which it blamed on bad business operations – mainly in its agricultural subsidiaries in the Eastern Highlands.
The Ariston Board, led by prominent business personality and commercial farmer, Robbie Mupawose, agreed to an $8 million Rights Offer to recapitalise the company at an extraordinary general meeting in March.
“In recent years, the Zimbabwean economy has faced a shortage of long-term finance, making the farming of longer cycle crops uneconomical,” said Mupawose. “This has resulted in Ariston under-supplying the market and becoming inefficient from a capacity utilisation perspective. Ariston struggled in the last few years due to capacity under-utilisation, expensive short term financing, aged equipment and labour constraints which have led to a reduction in the quality of tea and various fruits and, therefore, lower returns. Without recapitalisation, the ability of the company to continue as a going concern is significantly doubtful.”
Ariston is an agro-industrial company operating five estates totalling 7, 864 hectares of land of which 3, 797 ha is arable, growing a wide variety of agricultural produce as well as supplying supermarkets with local and imported produce through its distribution company, FAVCO.
The estates include Southdown and Clearwater in Chipinge, growing tea and macadamia nuts; Roscommon in Chimanimani -tea, macadamia nuts and bananas; Kent in Norton – poultry, livestock and vegetables; and Claremont in Nyanga, the largest producer of rainbow trout in Zimbabwe.Post published in: Agriculture