Standard Chartered in Talks With Zimbabwe on Black Ownership

Standard Chartered Plc, the U.K.’s second-largest bank by market value, said it’s in talks with Zimbabwe’s government on plans to increase black ownership of its business in the southern African nation.

“We remain in discussion with the government of Zimbabwe on this,” Vicki Robinson, a spokeswoman for the London-based bank, said today in an e-mailed response to questions. “Standard Chartered has taken the conscious decision to continue to maintain our long-standing commitment to doing business in Zimbabwe.”

Under the country’s law, foreign-owned companies must sell or cede 51 percent of their operations to black Zimbabweans or the state-owned National Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Board. The head of the board, Wilson Gwatiringa, said Standard Chartered may lose its license if the bank doesn’t comply with the law, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported today.

That came after Harare-based Newsday yesterday reported that Zimbabwe Central Bank Governor Gideon Gono said there were no plans to force Standard Chartered to close. Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Anglo American Platinum Ltd., the world’s biggest platinum producers, have agreed to cede 51 percent of their Zimbabwe operations to black ownership, while Barclays Plc and Standard Bank Group Ltd. have also submitted plans.

Standard Chartered, which operates in 16 African countries, said earlier this year that income from Africa rose 15 percent to $1.59 billion last year.

Standard Chartered shares dropped 1.5 percent to 1,630 pence at the close in London.

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