by Rudo Saungweme
Government has identified a potential investor to revive the Cold Storage Company (CSC)’s operations. A London-based company, Bonstead Holdings is set to inject over US$130 million in fresh capital into the beef processing company. Bonstead Holdings is owned by Nick Havercroft, who offered the deal in direct response to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s ongoing Zimbabwe is open for business investment drive.
The investment package is expected to clear outstanding utility bills and salary arrears accrued by CSC over the years. The company owes US$4 million to its 370 employees. The other outstanding debts stand at US$26 million. Under the deal, Bonstead Holdings will acquire holding rights and operate for twenty five years, before handing the company back to Government. Government will receive US$100 000 per year as rights fees in the first 5 years, after which it will get 8 percent of annual turnover from the operations for the remaining 20 years.
CSC was established in 1937 and it used to be a leading player in the processing and distribution of Zimbabwe’s beef, employing one thousand five hundred workers by 1999, but these were reduced to 370 employees by the time it ceased operations save for abattoir services.
The company last exported beef in 2007 following a reported outbreak of foot and mouth disease which led the European Union (EU) to ban the importation of beef from Zimbabwe. This marked the demise of CSC. Alleged mismanagement and corruption at the parastatal also contributed to its poor performance.
However, this recent development will see CSC re-opening and employing a large number of people apart from clearing its outstanding debts.