Hyundai Gaborone plant for Kimberley

2000-11-08 15:09

Gaborone - A consortium of Kimberley businessmen has bought the motor assembly plant of the Motor Company of Botswana (MCB), which manufactured Hyundai vehicles, after an auction in Gaborone on Wednesday.

They paid $7.2m (R54m) for the plant estimated by liquidator Terry Brick to be valued at $26m.

The building valued at another $13m went to a local Botswana consortium for $5.5m.

The sale signals the end of motor vehicle assembly in Botswana.

The Kimberley consortium is headed by chief executive officer Mac Makume.

A spokesman for the consortium said they would relocate the plant to Kimberley as soon as possible where they already have a plot of land. The building of a factory will start early in the new year.

They had been negotiating with three motor manufacturers and expect to be producing vehicles at the rate of 24000 a year within 18 months.

The total investment in the Kimberley business venture would be about R250m.

MCB was set up to assemble Hyundai cars and light delivery vehicles from completely knocked down kits and was the biggest hope to move Botswana's economy away from its reliance on diamond revenues.

There had been a sister operation assembling from semi-knocked kits since 1993 that is also in liquidation.

Both companies were part of the South African based Wheels of Africa ultimately owned by Nissim Franco who lives in London and Zimbabwean Billy Rautenbach.

The MCB operation was put into liquidation in January with debt of P670m ($125m, R950m) from both companies.

Brick, of Deloitte and Touche, said a substantial portion of the debt is in the form of cross guarantees to Wheels of Africa which is also in liquidation.

The major remaining creditors are: the Botswana Development Corporation who are owed P120m, the international ABN Amro owed P25m and Dutch finance and development company FMO owed P60m.