Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rabobank-managed Zanaco to list in Lusaka

USAKA, Oct 1 (Reuters) - Zambia National Commercial Bank (Zanaco), part-owned and managed by Rabobank of the Netherlands, said on Wednesday it would float on the Lusaka Stock Exchange on Nov 17, and hopes to raise 119 billion kwacha ($25.78 million).

Mark Wiessing, managing director of Zanaco, told journalists the funds raised through the initial public offer (IPO) would increase the bank's capital base and also go towards restructuring, expansion and growth of what is the country's largest retail bank by branch network.

Zanaco is majority-owned by the Zambian government, 49 percent is held by Rabobank [RABN.UL] with management control and 0.2 percent is held by minority shareholders.

After the IPO, Rabobank will keep its stake and management control. The Zambian government will reduce its interest to 25 percent and the Zambian public will own a 26 percent stake.

"We have now arrived in the second and final stage of the privatisation of Zanaco," Wiessing said.

"The stage consists of selling a further 25.8 percent of the bank to the Zambian public, in line with the mandate of the Zambian Privatisation Trust to empower the people."

Wiessing said 10 percent of the 25.8 percent of shares would be offered to Zanaco employees, while the Zambian public, foreign investors and pension funds would purchase the rest.

Rabobank would also reduce its stake by offering shares to farmers. The bank is in talks with the Zambia National Farmers Union on a possible sale of 4.0 percent of its stake.

Wiessing said Zanaco had received $25 million from the FMO lending institution of the Netherlands to provide credit facilities to the Zambia private sector.

He added that Zanaco was in talks with Africa Development Bank, the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank's private sector lending arm and the United States Agency for International Development to agree similar credit facilities.

Wiessing said Zambia financial markets have been growing strong at between 20-30 percent in assets and revenues, which provided an opportunity for people to use banking services.

Zanaco has already introduced mobile telephone banking in Zambia and plans to introduce internet banking and other products to improve service delivery to the customers.

Zanaco's 2007 profit before tax rose 4.8 percent to 42 billion kwacha, the bank said. Zanaco has 55 branches in Zambia.

Zanaco's intended privatisation has since the 1990s been held up by public, opposition party and civic group resistance. They have argued that selling the bank to foreigners would rob ordinary Zambians of its flexible lending terms.

The government of the southern African country then offered a minority stake to Rabobank but retained the controlling stake.

Zanaco would be the third lisiting on the Lusaka bourse this year after those of Zambia's largest mobile telepone operator, Celtel Zambia Plc CELZ.LZ and Copperbelt Energy Company (CEC), CEC.LZ, the main power distributor to copper mines. (Editing by Hans Peters) (Reporting by Shapi Shacinda +260 977 843 609/260 9557 79523))

($1=4615 Kwacha)