Nqobile Tshili, Business Correspondent
THE Cold Storage Company (CSC) has shortlisted a new potential investor to assist in resuscitating the troubled firm and is awaiting Government approval to implement the deal, an official has said.
In the face of operational constraints, CSC has been reduced to slaughtering beasts for third parties, which does not generate enough business for the giant meat processor considering its debts and utility expenses.
The company’s internal audit manager, Mr Lazarus Muronzi, revealed this during a familiarisation tour of the company by Industry and Commerce Deputy Minister, Raj Modi and Bulawayo Provincial Affairs Minister, Judith Ncube on Tuesday.
Mr Muronzi said CSC was owed about $40 million while the company requires $100 million to jump start its operations. He could not immediately reveal the shortlisted investor as the two parties signed a non-disclosure agreement pending finalisation of the deal.
“We have identified a number of investors and Government has selected one who wants to take over.
“ Negotiations have been going on since June. And as far the company is concerned, we have agreed on the proposal of the investor and we have submitted to Government but we are still waiting for Government to finally approve. Otherwise without an investor the company will continue bleeding,” said Mr Muronzi.
He said delays in approving the investor have previously resulted in the company losing an interested shareholder who wanted to pour funds into the company.
“Investors have been knocking around but the approvals by the Government have been taking a long time. I will give you an example, in 2009 we had an investor who came here wanting to invest $57 million. It took two years for the approval to take place but the time approval was done the investor was disinterested,” said Mr Muronzi.
He said CSC through a High Court interdict obtained in March, had been given 12 months to start clearing debts but delays in approving the investor could cost them. Deputy Minister Modi promised to follow up on the matter saying the Government was committed towards promoting the ease of doing business mantra.
“I’m going to take it up and find out why it is taking so long. That is why I was asking, which ministry was dealing with that. This (revival of the company) is something that will bring prosperity for Bulawayo. They said they have investors hence we need to find out how far they have gone and we take it from there to speed up the process. We definitely want to see this thing working,” he said.
Deputy Minister Modi said it was saddening that CSC’s massive infrastructure has been lying idle yet it has the capacity to directly and indirectly create jobs in various sectors. Minister Ncube also said her office will play its part in ensuring that CSC was revived as it will address the jobs issue in Bulawayo. — @nqotshili