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CBZ of Zimbabwe to Sell $200 Million Bonds This Year

Aug. 18 (Bloomberg) -- CBZ Holdings Ltd., Zimbabwe’s biggest bank, will sell $200 million of bonds backed by Africa Export Import Bank, CBZ Chief Executive Officer Never Nyemudzo said.

Afreximbank will underwrite the debt, which will pay a coupon of 7 percent, Nyemudzo said in an interview in Zimbabwe’s capital Harare on Aug. 14.

“We’re going to conclude that bond definitely this year,” he said. “We have a number of projects in the pipeline from infrastructure to mining and food processing.”

CBZ, also Zimbabwe’s biggest locally controlled lender, acted as the government’s banker after the country’s economy spun into economic recession and hyperinflation during the last decade. That responsibility has now returned to the central bank, Nyemudzo said.

“The move didn’t cause any material negative impact,” Nyemudzo said. “The government gave us ample time in order to plan moving their exchequer account back to the central bank, so when it happened we were well prepared.”

CBZ, which saw first half profit dip to $12.8 million through June, partly weighed down by non-performing loans, says the number of bad loans is manageable.

“It’s 6 percent of our book, well within our 8 percent mark and nothing to worry about given our level of capital as well,” Nyemudzo said.

The Harare-based lender said non-performing loans grew to $67 million on June 30 from $45 million in December, spurred by Zimbabwe’s liquidity crisis.

“Banking is a river, something in, something out,” he said. “That’s the process and we’re now in the collection process because all these loans are secured.”

Treasury Bills

The bank bought most of the Treasury bills offered by Zimbabwe this year, the state-controlled Herald newspaper reported on April 8. The debt was most probably issued to pay civil service wage bills, analyst Charles Laurie at Bath, U.K.- based Maplecroft said on Aug. 1.

“We’re comfortable with the portion of Treasury bills that we’re holding either as a result of legacy issues or direct participation in any tenders that have come from government,” Nyemudzo said. “It’s a good asset. No, no, no, we’re not forced to buy them. When you’re holding sufficient liquidity, you always look to place it where it’ll earn extra income.”

Shares in CBZ were unchanged at $0.12 in Harare, according to an e-mailed price list from the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. No shares in the company changed hands during the session, it said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Latham in Harare at blatham@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net Mark Bentley, Cindy Roberts

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