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Barclays Zimbabwe managers lobby government to block bank sale

A group of Barclays Bank low-level managers have petitioned the Zimbabwe government not to approve the takeover of Barclays Bank Zimbabwe by First Merchant Bank (FMB) of Malawi, alleging that the deal violated empowerment laws.

The 63 managers have also demanded that British headquartered Barclays Plc, which hived off about 57 percent shareholding in the local unit last week, should have given a consortium led by Barclays Zimbabwe managing director, George Guvamatanga, the right to first refusal.

The managers this week withdrew a High Court application challenging the same to focus on lobbying the government.

In a letter dated June 6, addressed to Patrick Chinamasa, the Finance and Economic Development Minister, the group’s lawyers, Matsikidze and Mucheche said in terms of section 25 A of the Labour Act, the matter of change of ownership or disposal of shares or business was a matter which required the employer to consult the employees first.

The letter was copied to the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, the Ministry of Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

“In this matter, at all material times the employer rejected the employees’ request for a works council meeting in terms of section 25 A of the Labour Act (28:01) to discuss the issue of sale or disposal of its shares or business to 3rd parties. At all material times, the employer flouted the laws relating to disposal of shares and ownership, or business. Despite the existence of an application for conciliation pending before Ministry of Labour, Public Service & Social Services, the employer proceeded to dispose the sale, or change ownership of the business,” the letter reads.

“The Barclays Bank of Zimbabwe Limited has confirmed the sale to a 3rd party in its notice of opposition dated 31 May 2017 to a matter now withdrawn. Further at law, the employees have a right of pre-emption or right of first refusal, the employer has not given the same to them for the disposal of its shares or business and instead preferred foreign investors from Malawi.”

The controversy over Barclays Zimbabwe started after Barclays Plc sold the stake to the Malawi listed financial firm, which also has a presence in Zambia, Botswana and Mozambique.

The disposals were part of a continent wide exit by the British bank, to focus on the European and American markets.

Barclays Bank Plc said this week it expects regulatory approvals in the third quarter of this year. – The Source

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