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Zimbabwean banker Manyere’s battle for MyBucks Zambia takes new twist

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THE ongoing fight for the control of MyBucks Zambia, co-owned by Zimbabwean banker George Manyere through his listed companies Mybucks S.A. and Ecsponent Limited, has taken a new twist.

BERNARD MPOFU

This comes after the company made an offer to a new suitor as one of the frontrunners who was eyeing the stake failed to complete the acquisition of the 45% equity in the deposit-taking microfinance institution within the stated time frame.

Further, this is occurring as the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) got entangled in the tussle, ordering Manyere to exit from both controlling shareholding and directorship in the MyBucks Zambia after violating banking rules.

Information at hand shows that last June, MyBucks S.A. announced that it had completed, subject to approval by regulatory authorities in Zambia, a sale of 20% of Ecsponent Financial Services Limited trading as MyBucks Zambia to Xtenda Finance Limited.

At the same time, Ecsponent Limited and Barkat Ali (former CE of MyBucks Zambia) also sold their 25% and 10% shareholding in MyBucks Zambia, respectively.

These transactions remain subject to regulatory approval and MyBucks, Ecsponent Limited and Barkat Ali and Xtenda have extended the long-stop date to obtain necessary regulatory approval to 31 March 2021.

“Following the above sale, MyBucks was left with a shareholding of 45% in MyBucks Zambia, which was subject to a Call and Put Option Agreement (which had an expiry date of 31 December 2020) between MyBucks and Finsbury Investments Limited (“Finsbury”), a Zambian company whose group executive chairman is Dr. Rajan Mahtani. Dr Mahtani is an indirect shareholder of the company through his interest in Leighlinbridge Limited which is a holder of approximately 15% of shares in the capital of the company,” MyBucks announced this week.

“On 22 December 2020, Finsbury irrevocably exercised the call option for it to acquire the 45% stake in MyBucks Zambia and set a completion date of 14 January 2021, but, unfortunately, failed to complete this sale and purchase on the set date. Accordingly, MyBucks has entered into a sale and purchase agreement with Xtenda whereby MyBucks shall sell the 45% stake in MyBucks Zambia to Xtenda (subject to approval by regulatory authorities in Zambia).

“The Company has noted with disappointment recent incomplete media reporting relating to confidential correspondence with regulatory authorities in Zambia. MyBucks rebuts this incomplete coverage in the strongest possible terms. MyBucks remains committed to complete its corporate restructuring and ensure the financial health of the Company going forward.”

BoZ director of non-bank financial institutions supervision, Freda Tamba, waded into the fight, triggering what could be a protracted battle.

“The view of the bank is that the transaction was irrational and failed to satisfy the requirement that it was done in the ordinary course of business of MyBucks. These actions constitute unsafe and unsound practices as defined by section 2 of the Banking and Financial Services Act (BFSA),” said Tamba in a letter that was quoted by online publications.

MyBucks S.A. is a fintech company domiciled in Luxembourg that delivers financial services through technology. MyBucks operates four banks in Africa. Last October, MyBucks S.A. announced that it had begun its debt restructuring process as it prepares for delisting from the Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

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