|Locals to acquire DHL franchise|
|Sunday, 10 February 2013 00:00|
Locals are set to take over DHL Zimbabwe’s local business through a franchising deal, it has been learnt. DHL’s acting country manager Mr Joe Nyamutumbu confirmed that the company was now in the hands of a local investor, but he would not be drawn into revealing the identity of the new suitor.
“DHL can confirm it has transferred its shares to local investors in line with the country’s indigenisation laws pending finalisation with the relevant authorities,” said Mr Nyamutumbu.
However, sources said listed transport and logistics firm Pioneer Corporation Africa is the one that is set to acquire the franchise.
It is understood that negotiations between the two have been completed and the parties were now waiting for regulatory approvals to seal the deal.
“The company will now operate as an agent of DHL International but will no longer be owned by the multinational company. This means it will be wholly owned by Zimbabweans.
“The company is currently in the process of downsizing.
“Pioneer will soon be issuing a cautionary statement with regards to the transaction once discussions and regulatory approvals have been completed and the necessary announcements will be made soon,” said the source.
Efforts to get a comment from Pioneer Africa Corporation group chief executive officer Mr Albert Ushe proved fruitless by the time of going to print.
Sources privy to the goings-on say the decision by DHL International to turn the Zimbabwe office into a franchise came after the local office was investigated by the Ministry of Finance through the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate for tax evasion.
The company was alleged to have paid some of its senior managers through offshore accounts without remitting tax and also stands accused of other economic misdemeanours.
DHL was accused by the tax authorities of not remitting requisite taxes on the amounts paid, resulting in the company facing penalties of up to US$2 million.
The probe also led to the departure of DHL country general manager Mr Asteway Zemedagegnehu.
Initially, businessman Mr Fred Mtandah was tipped to take over the logistics company but the negotiations collapsed since it was felt that the proposed deal would have prejudiced DHL employees who, according to empowerment legislation, are also supposed to benefit from any share transfer.
It emerged that management had been allotted more than the regulated 5 percent shares, while the employee share scheme was allotted less than the regulated 28 percent.
Under the country’s indigenisation and empowerment laws, 51 percent ownership of all companies operating in Zimbabwe must be in the hands of indigenous shareholders.