RBZ to guarantee Delta dividends to foreign shareholder

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TINASHE MAKICHI

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will issue a guarantee for about $31 million to Delta Beverages’ majority shareholder, Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI), to cover for dividends owed to the Belgium based beer maker, Business Times can report.

Companies with foreign shareholders are currently facing challenges in repatriating dividends resulting in a backlog which is estimated at around $180 million although this is a moving figure.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, which has a 40 percent stake in Delta was owed about $91 million in dividend arrears, but to date about $60 million has been repatriated.

“Our shareholder (AnheuserBusch InBev) has been supportive of efforts to keep the market supplied and in some instances we have had credit from ABI,” Delta Beverages’ finance executive, Matts Valela told Business Times.

“The RBZ has also been supportive. They have undertaken that we can pay them (RBZ) and then they issue bonds to ABI which become a guarantee so that they are assuring the external suppliers that they will be no change in currency from the 1:1 situation.

Delta Beverages company secretary, Alex Makamure added that: “As of now we have paid our shareholder $60 million. We still owe $31 million including from the last interim.”

He also added that Delta also held $28 million worth of RBZ savings bonds for ABZ as at September 30, 2018.”

Delta Beverages chief executive officer, Pearson Gowero, said his company was not sourcing foreign currency in the black market but has always relied on the banking system and the RBZ.

In its financials for the half year to September 30 2018, released last week, Delta posted revenue growth of 37 percent to $341 million compared with $250 million in the comparable period last year.

Its EBITDA during the period under review increased by 54 percent to $81,8 million while operating margins were up 17,2 percent to 22,7 percent.

Attributable income for the period increased 79 percent to $58 million while profit for the year was up at $18,6 million from $10,6 million. Earnings per share increased 75 percent to US4,63c during the period.

On volumes, lager beer volumes grew 54 percent, soft drinks grew three percent and in the last quarter there has been a decline in volumes for the soft drinks segment.

On the Zambian market, Valela told analysts that the market has been doing well mainly on recovery. He said Chibuku Super capacity is now fully extended but experiencing supply bottlenecks in Zambia.

“Zambia is doing well on recovery, volumes have been increasing and we are changing from low margin pack (shake shake) to Chibuku Super,” Valela said.

Going forward as a group, Gowero said they are considering exploring critical investment and regional growth opportunities. The group also had plans to invest close to $40 million towards capacity expansion but the subdued availability of foreign currency remains an issue.