Barclays ‘Not Losing Sleep’ Over Zimbabwe Banking Regulations

Banks operating in Zimbabwe support the push toward ownership quotas and are not concerned that indigenization will damage the industry, said George Guvamatanga, president of the nation’s bankers’ association.

The proposal to limit bank ownership to 10 percent for individual shareholders and 25 percent for institutional ones is under discussion between lenders and government, Guvamatanga, also the managing director of Barclays Plc in Zimbabwe, told reporters in London today. “We are actually supporting those measures, maybe not in their current form. I’m very confident the outcome will be acceptable to all parties.”

President Robert Mugabe, who extended his 33-year rule at July elections, is forcing mining companies such as Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd. and Anglo American Platinum Ltd. to cede majority stakes in their local assets to black Zimbabweans or the government. Agriculture was decimated in the one-time grain exporter after the violent seizure of white-owned commercial farms began in 2000.

“There is flexibility in terms of application of the law” on indigenization, with local operations of Standard Chartered Plc and Barclays not at risk, Guvamatanga said. “I don’t lose sleep as the managing director of Barclays over indigenization.”

Growth is set to accelerate to 6.4 percent this year from 3.4 percent in 2013, fueled by mining and agriculture, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said in December. Zimbabwe holds the world’s second-largest platinum and chrome reserves.

The southern African nation needs to attract investment to boost economic growth and resuscitate manufacturing, Charles Msipa, president of Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries, said in London today. Msipa and Guvamatanga are part of a nine-member business delegation meeting with European investors this week.

“Good intentions” from the government are behind the bank ownership plan as past failures at Zimbabwean lenders stemmed from poor corporate governance, Guvamatanga said.

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