Implats dispute with Zim deepens

2012-03-08 11:10

A war of words between Impala Platinum (Implats) and Zimbabwe intensified today, 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 yesterday that Implats had agreed to give 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 that the stake, worth more than $300 million (about R2.3 billion), need 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 that as far he was aware no letter had been sent to Harare, but that the Implats board would meet tomorrow to discuss the issue.

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

Implats shares have fallen 3.3% since February 22 when Zimbabwe issued the miner with an ultimatum over the Zimplats stake.

Rival Anglo American Platinum has dropped 1.9% over the same period.

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