The Herald | 22 April 2014
Zimbabwe: UAE firm targets mining sector
By Tinashe Makichi
United Arab Emirates-based financial institution, Tabarak Investment Bank has obtained an investment licence from the Zimbabwe Investment Authority to venture into mining and petroleum products business, a company official said.
Tabarak Investment Bank through its subsidiary Mondore General Trading (Pvt) Limited is currently involved in the trading of agricultural products.
Mondore General Trading executive director Dr Andre Homberg last week told The Herald Business that plans are at an advanced stage to start joint venture deals with local companies.
"I can confirm that we have been awarded a ZIA licence. We want to invest heavily in mining and petroleum businesses. Agriculture is also going to be our focal area.
"In the past, our company has been involved in agriculture and this time we want to venture on a large scale," said Dr Homberg.
He said the company's investment in agriculture is going to have an impact in helping the country regain its breadbasket status as well as enhancing food security.
Mondore Trading has been involved in small-scale importation of wheat into the country in recent years but it now hopes to expand its business portfolio by going into full scale farming.
"Tabarak Investment Bank is also working with its stakeholders to provide structured finance to Zimbabwe. UAE relies on food imports and we are very concerned with food security so we are very willing to invest heavily in Zimbabwe's agriculture," he said.
"At the moment we cannot divulge the size of our investment in terms of capital because we are still in negotiations with different authorities."
The company recently finalised a joint venture deal with a local upcoming petroleum company, Line Petroleum based in Chisipite.
As part of the deal, Mondore Trading would be responsible for facilitating the importation of petroleum into the country on behalf of Line Petroleum.
Dr Homberg confirmed that there is potential to explore other markets in the east to raise funds for the development of Zimbabwe.
Mr Homberg and his team will be meeting the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development to discuss financial solutions that can be offered to Zimbabwe.
He noted that a vibrant banking system and financing are critical for the success of the Special Economic Zones, which have been proposed by the Government in a bid to attract foreign direct investment.
Zimbabwe's banking system has been performing dismally, resulting in banks failing to offer long term financing. This also resulted in the central bank surrendering its lender of last resort role.
However, Government is making efforts to recapitalise the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and restore its functions.
Dr Homberg said Government should consider establishing an investment guarantee fund which will be used to offer sovereign guarantee to attract public private partnerships.
Sovereign guarantee is a Government instrument issued by the central bank, guaranteed by assets like mineral rights and land infrastructure which can be used as collateral.
"Zimbabwe is a rich country considering the assets and Government can use these to secure requisite funding.
"With that framework you can attract international partners and use Zimbabwe's own assets as collateral for the finance," said Dr Homberg.
In his presentation at the Special Economic Zones Workshop last week Dr Homberg said sovereign guarantees could be used to liquefy the central banking system which will then be able to issue bonds to attract Public Private Partnerships.
Dr Homberg said major capital intensive projects in the world use this type of financing which is raised from the country's own assets to avoid being indebted to other governments.
The problem at the moment is that issuing a direct Zimbabwean bond will not work because the banking system is not reliable.
"Getting someone from another country to issue the bonds on the Government's behalf and securing it with assets will definitely work," he said.