This might surprise some out there but we do not just keep track of prices of basic goods in Zimbabwe, we keep track of a lot of financial variables too. This includes keeping a pulse on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange even though we do not write much about it. Recent developments on the Stock Exchange front however piqued our interest. First, CBZ bank issued a cautionary statement to its potential and current shareholders announcing that it was in negotiations with another big Zimbabwean financial operator with a merger on the table. A few days later ZB issued a similar statement. A lot of people have put the two and two together and come to the same conclusion:

CBZ and ZB Holdings seem like they are considering a merger. Below are the two statements from both banks.

CBZ HOLDINGS STATEMENT

Shareholders are advised that CBZ Holdings Limited, “the Company”) in negotiations for a potential acquisition which if successfully concluded may have a material effect on the price of the Company’s securities, the full impact of which is currently being determined.

Accordingly, Shareholders are advised to exercise caution when dealing in the Company’s securities until a full announcement is made.

ZB HOLDINGS LIMITED’S STATEMENT

ZB Holdings Limited advises its shareholders that one of its company’s shareholders is engaged in negotiations for a potential acquisition of a control block of securities, which if concluded successfully, may have a material effect on the companies’ securities price.

The statements of both financial institutions

It could be something else entirely

Negotiations of this nature tend to be confidential so it is hard to know the exact details of what is happening behind the scenes. The purpose of cautionary statements is to make sure that current and potential shareholders know that there is something big going on behind the scenes without jeopardising the confidentiality of what is going on. Another thing to note is that at this point this is all speculation. We do not have concrete proof that this is going on although we could not entirely ignore the timing of both statements.

The thing though is that this could all be about something else entirely. The first time we saw the CBZ statement we thought they might be eyeing the StanChart empire. The parent holding company of StanChart is leaving Zimbabwe and has made it clear they are looking for a buyer for their beloved historical bank. It could well be that both CBZ and ZB Holdings are eyeing the bank and are engaged in negotiations that both feel they are about to win. After all, ZB Holdings recently rebranded, would they rebrand only to be folded into CBZ?

Anything is possible at this point so if you are a shareholder you would do well to hold on to those shares or if you are a potential investor you should do well to proceed with caution. No secret can withstand the future and we will know soon enough.

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