Major construction firm blames indigenisation for collapse


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One of the country’s major construction firms, Searlcom, has blamed the government’s local ownership law for its slide into liquidation, saying it had been overlooked for contracts in favour of black-owned rivals.

The directors of Produitte Investments, which trades as Searlcom, applied for voluntary liquidation last December, citing viability problems.

Searlcom, which employed about 750 people according to the company website, has operated in the country for over 40 years, undertaking significant civil and mining projects locally and in the region over the years.

The firm was contracted by Zimplats to construct its Turf Village in a deal worth millions of dollars, as well the Selous power substation and the Ngezi concentrator.

It also won tenders for the Unki Mine housing construction project, and the Mutare and Rusape toll plazas.

Produitte, along with two other companies, Clamship Investments and Any Home Investments, is part of the SBS Group.

While Produitte was engaged in traditional and modular building works, Clamship is an earthmoving, civil contracting and road construction firm.

Any Home was the manufacturing arm of the group, licensed to manufacture the panel cast system, trusses, window and door frames, container conversions, precast and gutter manufacturing.

Two SBS directors, Anthony Richard Gibbs and John Stuart Roberts told a creditor’s meeting at the Harare High Court that the construction sector experienced a significant downturn since 2011.

“The group’s position was further worsened by the indigenisation legislation. As non-indigenous companies, Produitte and Clamship found it increasingly difficult to successfully tender for contracts, at times losing to companies with no established track records,” the directors said in a presentation.

Liquidator Theresa Grimmel of TriVade postponed interrogation of debt claims from creditors following the directors’ presentation.

Among other creditors, SBS owes NMB Bank $950 000; ZB Bank $79 000; NEC Construction $54 613 and Copier King $15 784.

The Master of High Court postponed the meeting of creditors to November 17 and also called the full board, including non-executive directors, to be present on the day.-The Source

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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