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ZimAlloys Investor Said to Consider Offers for Majority Holding

Benscore Investments is considering selling a majority stake in Zimbabwe Alloys Chrome Ltd. to one of three investors in a bid to rescue the ferrochrome producer, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

Afro-Chine Smelting, a unit of Tsingshan Holding Group, is one of the companies to conduct due diligence at ZimAlloys and may submit an offer by the end of this month, said the person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

ArcelorMittal, the world’s largest steelmaker, is another of the potential bidders, the state-owned Herald newspaper reported on June 11, citing an unidentified official. A London-based spokeswoman for ArcelorMittal declined to comment. Three calls by Bloomberg News to Tsingshan’s office in Shanghai went unanswered.

ZimAlloys, which controls almost 40 percent of the southern African country’s chrome reserves, was placed under judicial management of audit firm Grant Thornton Camelsa almost two years ago after being hurt by a government ban on exporting unprocessed chrome ore and falling prices of ferrochrome. For Benscore to sell control of the company to an overseas investor, by cutting its 85 percent stake to a minority holding, would require special dispensation to skirt a Zimbabwe law that caps foreign ownership at 49 percent, the person said.

Benscore plans to retain control of ZimAlloys’ mineral rights, according to the person. Zimbabwe holds the biggest chrome reserves after neighboring South Africa.

The chrome producer, which was controlled by Anglo American Plc until 2005, has struggled to raise $40 million to rebuild three obsolete chrome smelting furnaces that were shut down in 2008. Ferrochrome, made by processing chrome ore in a smelter, is used in the production of stainless steel.

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