The Indigenous Petroleum Group of Zimbabwe (IPGZ) has challenged BP & Shell Marketing Services (BPSMS)’s deal to sell its local refined oils assets to business tycoon Shingai Mutasa’s Masawara plc.
Early this month, BPSMS announced it had agreed a deal to sell the assets that include depots and service stations to FMI Zimbabwe, a wholly owned subsidiary of London-listed Masawara plc.
The Shell Petroleum Company trades under the BP franchise in Zimbabwe.
Collectively, BPSM local assets include 73 retail sites, six country depots, four town depots and a lubricants plant, now dormant, among others.
The facilities are currently being rented by a number of indigenous refined oils dealers, among them Redan Petroleum, Sakunda Energy and Comoil, which were also vying for the same assets.
In a letter to David Chapfika, the chairperson of the National Indiginisation and Economic Empowerment Board (NIEEB), IPGZ secretary-general Crosby Mashiri questioned why incumbent leases were not accorded the right of first refusal in the deal.
Mashiri further contended the affected dealers sustained the industry during the country’s gravest fuel crisis in 2007/2008 when foreign operators stopped trading.
“We write to express our displeasure with the above transaction.
We feel the process was flawed and was targeted to benefit specific interests,” said Mashiri.
“Our view is that the invested funds are the seller’s funds.
We believe in the empowerment of the majority and not continued enrichment of one against broadbased economic empowerment”.
Mashiri urged a forensic audit of Masawara plc.
“Is this not warehousing by BP which will then try to get back into Zimbabwe when sustainable volumes are reached?” he said.
BP Southern Africa CEO Sipho Maseko a fortnight ago revealed the global energy company had in principle agreed to sell its assets to FMI Zimbabwe.
“With their experience and existing businesses in Zimbabwe, we believe that FMI Zimbabwe will be able to build on BPSMS’s good assets and grow the business further in line with their plans,” Maseko said.
Masawara, in which Mutasa owns 63,4%, also confirmed the deal through a spokesperson.
The investment fund got the deal in the second round of a privately tendered expression of interest after government rejected bids by South Africa-based Engen Petroleum and KenoilKobil on indigenisation grounds.
Registered in Jersey, US, Masawara listed on AIM in August and raised approximately $25 million to finance strategic acquisitions in the country.
The company owns 30% of TA Holdings, a locally-listed investment company, and 40% of Joina City, the largest retail and commercial property in Harare.