Shareholders of Anglo-American-owned Hippo Valley Estates must be pretty daft. Or is it that the Zimbabwean operation is too insignificant for the parent company to worry about?
The Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed company says it is not publishing its interim results for the six months to June because “in view of the seasonal nature of (its) operations, interim financial statements are considered meaningless and could be misleading to shareholders”.
In a statement to shareholders the company says it remains exempted by the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange from the requirement of publishing interim financial statements.
The company says the milling season started three weeks earlier than planned to avert a shortage of sugar on the local market. But since the cane was harvested before reaching its optimal age, yields were below expectation.
Overall recovery at the mills was, however, slightly above that of last year. The recovery was 85.79 percent compared to 84.27 percent.
Despite its efforts to avert shortages on the local market, sugar is not available on the supermarket shelves largely because of the skewed pricing system.
Hippo says the monitored (state-controlled) price of sugar on the domestic market is grossly unviable and uncompetitive compared to the regional market.
Sugar sells for only $14 500 a two-kg pack which is about R4 at the official exchange rate or R2 at the black market rate.
Hippo says the low domestic price has resulted in “intense speculative activities” which in turn have perpetuated shortages on the local market.
An assistant manager at one of Bulawayo’s leading supermarket chains said his shop, for example, sold two tonnes of sugar on a Saturday morning alone, netting $150 million, which obviously showed that the sugar was not for personal consumption.
Hippo also said it was investigating the sale of 6 858 tonnes of sugar to the European union under Zimbabwe’s ACP quota with false certificates of origin.
Though it is one of the country’s largest sugar producers, competing with Tongaat -Hullett owned, Triangle, Hippo Valley is listed for compulsory acquisition.