BY FIDELITY MHLANGA
DUBAI-based Albwardy Investments will with effect from this Sunday take full control of Meikles Hotel operations after buying the iconic facility for US$20 million.
The deal, which has been on the radar for years, was effectively concluded after more than 70% of shareholders of Meikles Limited backed the resolution relating to the sale of the hotel to Albwardy Investments, at an extra-ordinary general meeting held last December in Harare.
The deal has also been ratified by the Competition and Tariff Commission as well as exchange control authorities in Zimbabwe.
“The directors wish to advise shareholders that the requisite terms of regularising the control of the Meikles Hotel to the buyer per the sale and purchase agreements have been met. The buyer will take effective control of Meikles Hotel on 1 March 2020,” said Meikles Limited company secretary Thabani Mpofu in a statement yesterday.
Albwardy Investments, which has presence in over 20 countries with a total workforce of 10 000 across the world is envisaged to spend US$30 million in face-lifting the 312-room hotel.
Albwardy Investments LLC is a holding company founded in 1976 by UAE national, Ali Saeed Juma Albwardy who is the chairman. It has an annual turnover in excess of US$1 billion, operates a number of businesses ranging from food retailing, food distribution, construction, engineering, and in the hospitality and hotel industry.
Meikles Limited, which started operating in Zimbabwe, then Rhodesia in 1892, has interests in the retail business through the TM
Pick n Pay supermarket chain, a tea-manufacturing entity, Tanganda Tea Company and also runs hotels — Meikles Hotel, the Victoria Falls Hotel in the resort town of Victoria Falls in a joint venture arrangement with African Sun Limited, among others.
After disposing of Meikles Hotel, Meikles Hospitality will remain with interests in the Victoria Falls Hotel, and shareholding in Mentor Africa Limited, a company which owns the Cape Grace Hotel in South Africa.
However, there is fear that the takeover of the hotel by the Dubai firm might affect the future of at least 120 contract workers, amid indications that only full-time employees are guaranteed of retaining their jobs when the takeover is completed.
Meikles employs 400 workers and 120 of them are on contract.