Zim firm ‘nudged’ out of oil factory deal

FRANCISTOWN: Zimbabwean company, United Refineries Limited (URL) claims it was sidestepped in a partnership to set up a P100 million cooking oil refinery factory in Francistown.

Officials at United Refineries Limited in Zimbabwe have indicated that they do not know why their partnership deal with United Refineries Botswana (URB) never materialised, even though they did technical preparatory groundwork with local investors. Last year, URL managing director Busisa Moyo said his company would be opening its doors in Botswana, through a partnership vehicle with locals called URB. However, early this month it emerged that URB, which is due to begin operations next month will be a 100 percent citizen owned company.

When contacted for comment on the latest developments Moyo sang a different tune. “We did business proposals and technical plans to be submitted to organisations such as CEDA together. I don’t know what happened after that. Maybe they chose to partner with other people. We, however, still have other technical agreements regarding the running of the business,” he said.

Mmoloki Tibe, managing director of URB, denied any knowledge of a proposed partnership with URL. “We only went there (to URL) on a benchmarking exercise,” he said.  In November last year, Moyo told BusinessWeek that URL was an equity partnership with a local consortium.  According to Moyo, the company was to only manufacture cooking oil under the brand name ‘HoneyGold’. URB will manufacture products under the ‘SunGold’ brand.

URB, which is a P100 million venture, will be manufacturing cooking oil, olive oil, margarine and mayonnaise among other products.

The business is anticipated to create jobs for almost 500 Batswana. The company will produce 70 tonnes of oil per day with 2,500 – 3,000 tonnes produced monthly. The oil will be sold in Botswana and exported to other African countries.

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