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CBZ plans VFEX listing


CBZ Holdings, the biggest bank in Zimbabwe, plans to list on the United States dollar-denominated Victoria Falls Stock Exchange (VFEX), as part of efforts to ignite foreign interest in the lender.

The firm is “actively exploring” a listing, which could address foreign investors’ concerns of having funds stuck in the country, chief executive officer Blessing Mudavanhu said in an interview Friday.

The lender is currently only listed on the Zimbabwe Stocks Exchange in Harare.

CBZ chairman Marc Holtzman, a 30-year banking veteran, who has worked at Barclays Plc and ABN Amro Bank NV, said the Victoria Falls listing would take place this year.

“If the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange does everything we believe and think it can do, there will be no need to list dually,” Holtzman said during the interview.

A listing on VFEX will also provide the lender with an avenue to explore growth opportunities, particularly within the southern African region.

“We still have a huge appetite for the local market, however we cannot rule out expansion outside Zimbabwe when the opportunity arises,” Holtzman said.

CBZ has CBZ entered into two United States-based correspondent banking relationships since the US Treasury Department cleared the lender of a US$385 million penalty for processing transactions on behalf of ZB Bank, which was then under American sanctions.

“This has improved our operations significantly,” Holtzman said.

The lender on Friday reported that full-year 2020 profit jumped more than sixfold to $6,15 billion, from $920 million in 2019.

VFEX was launched in February last year, but has only one listing so far, Seedco International, which was quoted in October.

The listing drought has shaken authorities in Zimbabwe.

Two weeks ago, Finance minister Mthuli Ncube pumped in fresh incentives to attract companies to list on the VFEX, as the hype that permeated Zimbabwean markets during the build up to its launch slowly dissipated.

But under Ncube’s plan to rally companies to scale up export diversification and growth, he specifically singled out VFEX among the most strategic targets of the scheme, promising to give firms listed on the new bourse more incentives including a range of forex retention thresholds.

“In order to encourage gold production and deliveries to Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR), gold producers who deliver gold quantities above their average monthly deliveries shall be entitled to a retention level of 80% on the incremental portion of the gold delivered to FPR,” Ncube said.

“Those companies listed on Victoria Falls Stock Exchange will be entitled to a 100% retention level of their incremental exports,” he said, noting that his sweeteners  were targeted at “encourage listing and participation of firms on the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange and Victorian Falls Offshore Financial Centre”.

— Bloomberg/Business Writer

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