Meikles ZSE suspension lifted

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MEIKLES’ suspension from trading on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) has been lifted with immediate effect, ZSE chief executive Alban Chirume said yesterday.

MTHANDAZO NYONI
OWN CORRESPONDENT

Meikles had been temporarily suspended from trading on the ZSE on February 16 on allegations of overstating the debt it is owed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) with the intention of manipulating its price on the stock market.

Meikles reported a  $2,8 million loss for the half-year ended September 30 2014, but said it was owed about $90 million by the central bank, a debt that accrued as way back as 1998 from transactions related to the group’s dual listing on the ZSE and the London Stock Exchange.

The group has said it was banking on the release of the money to fund its expansion programmes as well as compliance with indigenisation and empowerment laws.

ZSE chief executive Alban Chirume
ZSE chief executive Alban Chirume

In an interview with Southern Eye Business, Chirume said they had lifted the suspension with immediate effect.

“Yes, we have lifted the suspension, but at the moment I cannot say much because we are still working on it,” said Chirume.

According to amendments contained in the Reserve Bank Debt Assumption Bill, which has been tabled for debate in Parliament, Meikles is among 60 other firms and 466 individuals that are owed a total of $1,424 billion by the central bank as at the end December 2013.

The government has proposed to take over the central bank’s debt under the Reserve Bank Debt Assumption Bill. Information in the RBZ Bill shows that the central bank’s principal debt to Meikles was $25 882 099,70 in 1998, but shot up to $47 044 440,70 at the end of 2013 after inclusion of interest, charged at a rate of 8% per annum.

According to the data, the money was specifically used to purchase grain, fuel, electricity, water treatment chemicals and drugs.

Meikles’ debt issue came under spotlight early this month when Bikita West legislator Munyaradzi Kereke, a former advisor to the then central bank governor Gideon Gono, accused the hotel group of inflating the figure to manipulate its stock price.

While debating the RBZ Debt Assumption Bill on February 2, Kereke accused the group of inflating figures with the intention of manipulating its price on the stock market.