Shoprite Executives Tour OK Zimbabwe Branches

Brian Weyers, marketing director for Johannesburg-based Shoprite, said the supermarket group currently has no additional comment to add to that made on Aug. 28, when contacted today by Bloomberg News. The company said last month that it would “consider” buying businesses in Zimbabwe. Calls to OK’s offices in Zimbabwe didn’t connect. OK has issued a “cautionary statement” about the talks it is in, Kingdom said.

There are “rumors that the South African giant retailer is planning to acquire a controlling stake in the supermarket chain,” Harare, Zimbabwe-based Kingdom said in an e-mailed note to clients today.

OK is Zimbabwe’s second-largest supermarket chain after TM Supermarkets, owned by Kingdom Meikles Africa Ltd., and has a market value of $241 million.

Shoprite, which posted a 27 percent jump in profit in the year through June, operates 102 stores in 16 countries outside of South Africa, including a grocer in Zimbabwe’s second-biggest city, Bulawayo. Chief Executive Officer Whitey Basson said on Aug. 25 the retailer is in talks to open 14 more stores in Nigeria and two in Angola, and is considering investing in Mauritius and Madagascar.

Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe signed a power-sharing agreement with opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in February, with the aim of drawing up a new constitution and holding elections within two years of that. Zimbabwe’s economy is expanding this year after a decade-long recession, deepened by Mugabe’s decision to seize white-owned commercial farms to give to black subsistence farmers. That program slashed the country’s exports. (