Shoprite Said to Offer Buyback of Zambian Shares to End Dispute

Shoprite Holdings Ltd. (SHP), Africa’s biggest grocer, offered to repurchase shares trading on the Lusaka Stock Exchange from Zambian investors to settle a dispute, two people familiar with the matter said.

Shoprite offered to buy the securities at a 25 percent discount to the price on the Zambian bourse, where the Cape Town-based company has a secondary listing, one of the people, who asked not to be identified because talks are private, said. The proposal was rejected because it was too low, the person said today by phone from Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. Sarita Van Wyk, a Cape Town-based spokeswoman for Shoprite, said she wasn’t immediately able to comment.

The retailer is suing some shareholders of its Zambian unit in a bid to reverse the purchase of shares now worth more than 302 million rand ($31 million). Shoprite, in court papers filed in the Lusaka High Court in July, said its representative in Africa’s largest copper-producing nation illegally sold the shares at a discount to the local pension funds of companies including Standard Chartered Plc (STAN), Standard Bank Group Ltd. (SBK), Sandvik AB (SAND), and SABMiller Plc. (SAB)

Shoprite shares closed trade at 63 kwacha ($11.78) in Lusaka today, a 36 percent discount to the 180.80 rand they closed at in Johannesburg.

The case was adjourned until Oct. 28 to allow Shoprite, which trades its shares mainly in Johannesburg, and the investors to start talks that “may result in the resolution of the dispute,” Judge Flavia Chishimba wrote in court papers dated Sept. 18.

The case is Shoprite Holdings Ltd. and Shoprite Checkers Ltd. v Saturnia Regna Pension Trust Scheme Ltd. and 24 other defendants.

To contact the reporter on this story: Matthew Hill in Lusaka at mhill58@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net

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