Implats dispute deepens

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JOHANNESBURG — A war of words between South Africa’s Impala Platinum and Zimbabwe intensified yesterday, when the world’s second-biggest platinum producer denied offering to hand over a stake in its local unit to the government.

A senior Zimbabwean minister said on Wednesday Implats had agreed to cede the 29,5% stake in Zimplats under a new law to transfer majority ownership of foreign companies to local blacks.

Implats said this was not the case.
“Implats has not made an irrevocable offer to the Zimbabwe government today,” the company said in a two-sentence statement.

Implats has argued the stake, worth more than $300-million, needs not be handed over because it was promised “empowerment credits” for mining rights it returned to the Zimbabwean government in 2006.

Senior Implats executive Johan Theron said as far he was aware no letter had been sent to Harare, but the Implats board would meet today to discuss the issue.

“A range of options will be put to the board,” he said, adding Implats remained committed to finding a solution to the problem.

Implats shares have fallen 3,3% since February 22 when Zimbabwe issued the company with an ultimatum over the Zimplats stake. Rival Anglo American Platinum has dropped 1,9% over the same period.
—Reuters