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Windfall for British American Tobacco Workers

American Tobacco Workers
LOCAL cigarette manufacturer British American Tobacco Zimbabwe Limited is the latest foreign-owned company to comply with the Empowerment Regulations, after concluding negotiations for almost 10 percent workers’ ownership of the company.

The details of the share option scheme were not immediately available, with management insisting that negotiations were continuing. But most of the sticking issues appear to have been resolved, informed sources said.

The company’s managing director, Mr Lovemore Manatsa, said in a statement yesterday the Ministry of Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment had endorsed the company’s provisional plan.

“We are pleased that the discussions with the ministry are progressing well and that a major part of the proposed plan that will benefit our employees has been approved in principle,” he said.

“We are confident that we will successfully conclude the consultation and implementation of the indigenisation plan in the near future.”

What remains for the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed firm is to gain shareholder approval from BAT International Holdings (UK) Limited, which holds a 57 percent stake in the company.

Under the country’s Indigenisation Regulations, all foreign-owned firms are required to have the majority shareholding in the hands of locals.

The other significant shareholder in British American Tobacco Zimbabwe is Old Mutual with a 19 percent stake. An assortment of local investors own varying amounts of shares.

Mr Manatsa said his company respects and obeys the country’s laws as well as the customs and traditions of the land.

Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour Kasukuwere said he expected to see major board changes reflecting the new ownership structure at BAT that has been in the country for more than 100 years.

“We would like to congratulate the workers at BAT for gaining 10 percent ownership of the company,” he said. “It is the Government’s expectation that such a spirit will cascade across all sectors to ensure that workers rightfully gain ownership of companies that they have toiled for for years.

“Naturally, we anxiously await changes from board level, operations, and indeed across the board to reflect the new ownership. This is how it should be.”

It was expected that the details of the empowerment deal would be announced once all the approvals have been obtained.

Other foreign-owned companies that have come up with share ownership schemes for their employees including Old Mutual, Schweppes Zimbabwe, Meikles, PPC, Zimplats, Mimosa and Unki.

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