Lafarge acquisition a plus for local empowerment

By Owen Mandovha
LAFARGE Cement Limited has become the first major cement manufacturing company to be owned by an indigenous business consortium after the disposal of a 76 percent stake to Fossil Mines.
A local consortium has been announced as the successful bidder of the 76.45 percent stake in the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed cement producer, Lafarge, after months of speculation over the future of the company that has been operating locally for over 60 years.
In a statement released by the Acting Company Secretary, Mr Arnold Chikazhe, Associated International Cement Limited, a subsidiary of Lafarge Holcim has entered into a binding agreement with Fossil Mines, which has emerged as the winner of the bid among a list of other local and foreign suitors.
The Swiss headquartered cement conglomerate has been disposing its cement assets on the African continent, the latest being its units in Zambia and Malawi, which were bought by a Chinese business consortium.
Speculation was rife that the Zimbabwean unit was up for sale since last year, prompting a local empowerment organisation, Economic Empowerment Group to engage Government over the sale.
EEG Vice President, Mr Munyaradzi Kashambe noted that the latest development ensures that key means of production remain in local hands.
“This is good news to the nation remember that in all the countries that Lafarge was selling its companies they sold to foreign companies and here we had to lobby that a local company should be prioritised. This is welcome because it means that these key means of production are now owned by locals who will prioritise our local interests,” said Kashambe.
Fossil Mines also released a media statement, noting that it will add a massive capital injection to increase capacity and modernise the plant to reduce cement imports where the ongoing government’s infrastructure programme has witnessed a spike in demand for cement.
The latest development is good news in terms of localising the means of production to guard national interests.