28 January 2010
ZIMBABWE Stock Exchange (ZSE) chief Emmanuel Munyukwi has already raised the champagne glass once this year, and it looks like the securities boss might have an excuse to take a sip at least three more times before June. A reverse listing by Tawanda Nyambirai's TN Financial Holdings of Tedco Ltd earlier in the month saw the ZSE chief toasting to a successful deal.
Now, with speculation rife that the ZSE, a rather laid-back market in terms of business activity and deals, could see at least three more listings.
People close to the developments say with Imara Capital Holdings, a Pan-African investment banking and asset management group, Telecel Zimbabwe and little-known Aquiver Wireless coming on board, the market might be a hive of activity for stockbrokers too.
While Imara and Aquiver's listing look certain, Telecel International, the controlling shareholders in Telecel Zimbabwe, would have to negotiate carefully around legal and corporate minefields littered in and around the local operation.
Analysts do not see the listing succeeding until Telecel International, 60% shareholders in Telecel Zimbabwe, sell a disputed 11% stake to its local partners.
Under Zimbabwe's laws, foreigners are not allowed to control telecommunications firms.
The international mobile phone operator has been under pressure for years to scale down its shareholding to a minority but the group still calls the shots.
While Telecel Zimbabwe's partners might be happy to go ahead with a listing, little will happen until the group complies with a High Court order to sell the disputed 11%.
Exiled businessmen James Makamba and businesswoman Jane Mutasa own significant shareholding in the mobile phone operator and have pre-emptive rights for the shares should Telecel International opt to sell.
By getting a listing on the ZSE, analysts say, Telecel International shareholders feel they could have princely sleep insulated from ownership headaches should government follow through on plans to compel foreign businesses to own minority shareholding in local companies.
Analysts believe a listing could be a smart business move for the third largest mobile operator's foreign and local shareholders judging by positive investor sentiment on technology and telecommunications shares on the local market and elsewhere.
But that depends entirely on whether Telecel International overcomes "outstanding issues" relating to the 11% stake that could see local investors controlling the mobile operator.
A Telecel International official Marble Mpoli refused to comment on the matter.
Should the Telecel listing fail, Finance minister Tendai Biti has promised at least three other privatisations and listings this year.
Last year, Imara Capital led investor conferences urging foreigners to take the risk and invest in the country.
Mark Tunmore, Imara Capital chief executive officer, could neither deny nor confirm the move when reached for comment this week.
The group has offices in Botswana, Malawi, South Africa, the UK and associate offices in Malawi and Zimbabwe and working relationships with stockbrokers in Zambia, Namibia Equity Brokers and Mac Capital in Dubai.
According to Imara, the group has funds under management and administration close to a billion dollars.
Imara provides corporate finance, advisory and asset management services for institutional and private clients.
Another surprise might be the bounce-back of Kingdom Financial Holdings Ltd on the market after a merger between the banking group and Meikles Africa Ltd ended in tears last year. But KFHL boss Nigel Chanakira will need to shake off sentiment after his rival John Moxon was specified by government.
Moxon believes Chanakira caused his specification.
Analysts say Chanakira could do with a partner, possibly a South African bank without a presence in the local market.
If KFHL attracts a shareholder with deep pockets, analysts see the group clawing back market share.