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AMH brings billionaire investor

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Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) has brought into Zimbabwe Africa’s youngest billionaire — Ashish J Thakkar.

Senior Staff Reporter

AMH Events will present the billionaire at its inaugural Game Changer debate series in Harare tomorrow, where he will share his passion for entrepreneurship and youth mentorship, among numerous other topics.

Thakkar along with his partner former Barclays plc chief executive Bob Diamond’s Atlas Mara Co-Nvest is also set to take up a significant stake in ABC Holdings to shore up the fortunes of the pan-African banking group.

At $265 million, it is arguably the biggest foreign direct investment (FDI) in Zimbabwe since dollarisation five years ago.

AMH — publishers of the flagship NewsDay, Southern Eye, The Zimbabwe Independent and The Standard — launched the Game Changer series in March 2013 in The Zimbabwe Independent. A Game Changer, featured weekly in The Zimbabwe Independent, is an African visionary, leader, risk taker, who has climbed to the top of their field and are making a positive impact on the continent.

Thakkar’s Atlas Mara Co-Nvest has secured agreements to acquire 50,1% of the issued shares in ABC Holdings (ABCH) at a price of 82 cents, with $40 million going directly into ABCH Zimbabwe operations and another $40 million to ABC shareholders.

In an interview published by NewsDay yesterday, Thakkar said: “I wouldn’t be coming to Zimbabwe if I didn’t think that this is a very exciting place with tremendous potential. I am confident that the business environment is improving and will continue to do so.”

It emerged that the group had shown interest to invest in the region and Zimbabwe in particular with a mentorship programme for Zimbabwean youths on the cards to boost their entrepreneurial skills.

Yesterday, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said Thakkar and Diamond’s Atlas Mara group had also organised the issuance of a 150 million euro bond to rescue the country’s economy from the doldrums.

Chinamasa said the coming-in of Thakkar and Diamond’s group would ease liquidity problems in the long term.

He said the coming on board of the group in Zimbabwe was a sign of confidence and should be a signal to other investors that Zimbabwe was a safe destination.

“This is a positive development. As you were aware, I have been shouting, communicating the message that we need to get our economy out of the doldrums; we need to fix the financial servicse sector,” Chinamasa said. “The financial services sector requires assistance as a matter of priority.”

Chinamasa said the productive sectors of the economy required large volumes of funding. He cited the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

“Secondly, they have also assured me that they will abide by the indigenisation law. They are free to choose local partners to decide and negotiate a price,” he said. “Your coming here will send a signal that investors are welcome here. We are a safe destination. If there are any challenges, we sit down and talk.”

Chinamasa said the government had moved to restore the central bank lender-of-last-resort function and progress had been made towards that.

Diamond said the group would work with ABCH chief executive officer Douglas Munatsi as the bank was highly rated throughout the Sadc region.

Munatsi said the bond was almost ready.

“We were just waiting for this transaction. We are ready to go. Appetite for the bond is very strong,” he said.

The country has been facing liquidity challenges since 2009 when it dollarised as it has failed to attract any meaningful FDI.

The country’s FDI has been on the increase, but at low levels. It started off in 2009 at $65 million and in 2013 it was at $400 million.

The figure was still below other regional players whose FDI levels were above $1 billion.
and will continue to do so.”

It emerged that the group had shown interest to invest in the region and Zimbabwe in particular with a mentorship programme for Zimbabwean youths on the cards to boost their entrepreneurial skills.

Yesterday, Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa said Thakkar and Diamond’s Atlas Mara group had also organised the issuance of a €150 million bond to rescue the country’s economy from the doldrums.

Chinamasa said the coming-in of Thakkar and Diamond’s group would ease liquidity problems in the long term.

He said the coming on board of the group in Zimbabwe was a sign of confidence and should be a signal to other investors that Zimbabwe was a safe destination.

“This is a positive development. As you were aware, I have been shouting, communicating the message that we need to get our economy out of the doldrums; we need to fix the financial service sector,” Chinamasa said. “The financial services sector requires assistance as a matter of priority.”

Chinamasa said the productive sectors of the economy required large volumes of funding. He cited the agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

“Secondly, they have also assured me that they will abide by the indigenisation law. They are free to choose local partners to decide and negotiate a price,” he said. “Your coming here will send a signal that investors are welcome here. We are a safe destination. If there are any challenges, we sit down and talk.”

Chinamasa said the government had moved to restore the central bank lender-of-last-resort function and progress had been made towards that.

Diamond said the group would work with ABCH chief executive officer Douglas Munatsi as the bank was highly rated throughout the Sadc region.

Munatsi said the bond was almost ready.

“We were just waiting for this transaction. We are ready to go. Appetite for the bond is very strong,” he said.

The country has been facing liquidity challenges since 2009 when it dollarised as it has failed to attract any meaningful FDI.

The country’s FDI has been on the increase, but at low levels. It started off in 2009 at $65 million and in 2013 it was at $400 million.

The figure was still below other regional players whose FDI levels were above $1 billion.

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