HomeLocalZim/Libya in Noczim assets dispute

Zim/Libya in Noczim assets dispute

Vincent Kahiya/Mthulisi Mathuthu

SHARP differences have emerged between Zimbabwe and Libya over the real value of National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) assets and those of its sister company Petrozim aft

er the two countries failed to agree on the results of three different valuation exercises carried out last year.

The valuations were carried out to facilitate the acquisition of Zimbabwean assets by Libya as part of the two countries’ trade agreement.

Government sources this week said the Libyan business delegation currently in the country was keen to see a quick resolution of the impasse which threatens to scuttle any fuel supply deal.

The composition of the Libyan delegation has raised eyebrows as it does not consist of technocrats who are usually a key component of such missions. Sources said there could be an attempt to solve the problem at the political level which would give the Libyans leverage. Officials from Noczim and Petrozim, industry sources said, have been resisting attempts to sell off the assets cheaply.

The transfer of the petro-chemical industry assets are key to the launch of a joint venture company, Tamoil-Zimbabwe, which the government announced had been formed last year. The company intends to trade in retail and wholesale of fuel.

Information to hand shows that last year the Libyans contracted an Italian company to carry out an asset audit on Noczim and Petrozim, while the government through the valuation department in the Ministry of Local Government and National Housing carried out its own assessment. Noczim also contracted estate agents and property valuators CB Richard Ellis to do a similar exercise.

Sources said the results from the valuation exercise were so disparate that negotiations on the transfer of assets collapsed at the end of last year, which is partly the reason Libya stopped supplying fuel to Zimbabwe.

The audit carried out by the Italian company put the replacement value of Noczim assets at US$90 million and that of Petrozim at US$62 million. Petrozim facilities which include the Mutare to Harare pipeline and storage facilities were built at a cost of US$85 million nine years ago.

Richard Ellis on the other hand put the total replacement value of Noczim assets at $21,3 billion and that of Petrozim at US$253 million.

The government valued the Noczim assets at $2,13 billion and those of Petrozim at $626 million. The government figures were lower than those from the two valuations as the state valuators used a rate of US$1 to $55 while Richard Ellis used the prevailing black market rate at the time. The Italians on the other hand did not take into account the value of the land owned by the two organisations.

The failure by the parties to agree stalled negotiations and another audit to address the Libyan concerns should have been carried out by the end of the month. This has however not been done. The execution of that audit now hangs in the balance as the Libyans are believed to be impatient and would like the deal concluded as soon as possible.

l Meanwhile, a Libyan company, Mansour Investments, is preparing to build a hotel and a shoe manufacturing company in Zimbabwe as part of government’s open door policy towards the North Africans who provide fuel.

Led by one Rajab Mansour, the Libyans are also said to be interested in setting up a shoe manufacturing company with a local company in Bulawayo’s Kelvin North industrial area.

A source told the Independent that the Libyans were originally meant to co-finance a hotel project with the Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) in Kariba but later opted for a solo project because RTG is also already involved with Libyan Arab Africa Investment Company which has acquired a 14% stake in the group.

Libyan Ambassador Mohhamed Azzabi confirmed yesterday that a delegation of Libyan investors came to Zimbabwe a fortnight ago and consulted with local business people on the investments but he declined to disclose the names of the local players.

“All I know is that they have already hired local and international companies to do feasibility studies for them. They have already started their projects but they have left for South Africa, Zambia and Malawi,” said Azzabi.

A Libyan source said Libyan Arab Africa Investment Company representatives were also expected in the country soon to explore investment opportunities in plastic manufacturing, cold storage and water bottling.

This follows last year’s reports that unspecified Libyans were eyeing the country’s biggest platinum producer, the Hartley Mine owned by Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats) as part of the oil barter deal.

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