THE ZB Financial Holdings (ZBFH) group is headed for a split amid indications that one of its major shareholder, Nicholas Vingirai wants out.
Vingirai, who through his Transnational Holdings Limited (THL) holds 19,79 percent in ZBFH, has had a fractious relationship with National Social Security Authority (NSSA) which has a 37,79 percent stake in the banking group.
Vingirai won back shareholding in ZBFH, which had taken over his Intermarket group in 2004, following a lengthy court battle.
Sources said the veteran banker, who at one time reportedly fled the country after allegedly externalising millions of dollars, has engaged lawyers to recover his assets from ZBFH.
“Vingirai has been fighting to reclaim his lost assets since 2013 when externalisation charges against him were lifted, bringing to an end one of the longest corporate fights since independence,” said the source.
“He however intensified the fight in May when his plans to increase THL shareholding in ZBFH to 26 percent — as per initial agreement with government — hit a brick wall after it was rejected by shareholders at an annual general meeting,” the source added.
Another source on Vingirai’s legal team told The Financial Gazette that they had held a series of meetings with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, NSSA and other shareholders to find an amicable solution to the impending divorce.
“For the past six months or so we have held marathon meetings with all concerned stakeholders and we are now closer to finalising the split,” the source added.
Vingirai’s IHL was taken over by ZBFH in 2006 after the central bank had bailed out the investment vehicle’s subsidiaries and later converted the debt into equity under a High Court scheme of arrangement.
Vingirai suggested he was pressing for a demerger when contacted for comment.
“While I can’t confirm the existence of negotiations, I am on record stating that a demerger is the way to go. I wouldn’t have said this if I felt that I couldn’t raise the requisite capital,” Vingirai told The Financial Gazette.
Zimbabwe’s financial institutions are expected by the central bank to have a minimum capital requirement of $100 million by 2020.
Vingirai, however, believes that the current investment climate “ushered in by the futuristic business-friendly inaugural speech of His Excellency President Emmerson Mnangagwa augurs well for capital raising initiatives”.
The maverick businessman expects to regain assets such as Intermarket Banking Corporation Limited, Intermarket Building Society currently trading as ZB Building Society, Intermarket Reinsurance Limited currently trading as ZB Reinsurance, Intermarket Life Assurance Company Limited currently trading as ZB Life and Mashonaland Holdings Limited.
This will leave ZBFH with only ZB Bank and ZB Capital and transfer secretaries among subsidiaries.
Market experts, however, said the divorce could have serious negative implications on the listed financial services group which is on a recovery path after it was removed from America’s sanctions list late last year. –b24