Israeli Investor Said to Withdraw Zambia Mining Stake Bid

Updated on
  • Company cancels $100 million offer after delays in talks
  • ZCCM-IH says government has again tasked it to sell a stake

Sapir Capital, an Israeli private-equity firm, has withdrawn an offer to buy a stake in Zambia’s state-owned mining holding company for more than $100 million, according to two people familiar with the situation.

Sapir canceled the offer after delays in the transaction but is still in informal talks with the government over a potential deal, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified as the information isn’t public. Sapir had been close to buying the 17.25 percent stake in state-owned ZCCM Investments Holdings in April, Bloomberg reported at the time.

ZCCM-IH, which owns minority stakes in the local units of companies including Vedanta Resources Plc, First Quantum Minerals Ltd. and Glencore Plc, said in an emailed statement Wednesday that the government requested that it start the process to sell the 17.25 percent shareholding on its behalf. Pius Kasolo, the company’s chief executive officer, declined to confirm Sapir’s withdrawal, referring queries to the finance ministry. Finance Minister Felix Mutati didn’t answer three calls or reply to a text message.

Sapir stopped the transaction because of delays caused by senior management at ZCCM-IH, one of the people said. Sapir lowered its offer, which the government then rejected, another person said. Kasolo disputed that ZCCM-IH had hindered the deal.

“How can I delay a sale when I’m not the one selling,” he said by phone from London, where he has been meeting with other potential buyers of the stake. “I just run the company.”

Government hasn’t given a time frame over the sale of part its shareholding, Kasolo said, adding that “I’d rather we sell it as quickly as possible.”

The government owns 77.5 percent of the Lusaka-based ZCCM-IH, which was formed to hold residual minority shareholdings in the mines of Africa’s second-biggest copper producer, after the state privatized the industry in the late 1990s. Anglo American Plc and the Rhodesian Selection Trust produced most of Zambia’s copper until the nationalization of the industry in the 1970s.

Zambia tried and failed to sell the 17.25 percent stake in ZCCM-IH to local investors in 2015.

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