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Zimbabwe Minister Wants to Meet Heads of Barclays, StanChart

Feb. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Zimbabwe Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said he wants to meet with the heads of Barclays Plc and Standard Chartered Plc after the country’s lines of credit were cut by about 95 percent to $40 million a year.

“I would like to see your bosses for explanations for the climb down to say are you arranging an exit strategy so that we can ask the right questions,” Chinamasa said at a mining conference in the northern resort town of Victoria Falls today.

Chinamasa didn’t say which of the U.K. lenders had cut lending to Zimbabwe, or give details of when the credit lines were tightened except that they used to be about $800 million. Calls to the local unit of Barclays in the capital, Harare, weren’t answered, while the switchboard at Standard Chartered there said nobody was around to take a call.

Zimbabwe has been trying to get banks to help revive the nation’s economy since the government abandoned the Zimbabwe dollar in 2009 to curb inflation that had risen to as much as 500 billion percent, according to International Monetary Fund estimates. Lenders, including Barclays and Standard Chartered, agreed 13 months ago to cap their interest margins as the central bank tried to lower lending rates.

Chinamasa said South African “financiers” had offered loans at a “country premium.” “They are saying they are prepared to assist us with funding, but at an 8 percent premium, that’s expensive,” he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Godfrey Marawanyika in Harare at gmarawanyika@bloomberg.net; Brian Latham in Harare at blatham@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net

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