South African supermarket giant to increase stake in TM Supermarkets

Cape Town – South Africa’s “Pick n Pay” will spend US$13 million to raise its stake to 49% from the current 25% in Zimbabwe’s largest grocer TM Supermarkets, media reports said here.\r\n

The transaction, due to be completed by March next year, will give South Africa’s second-largest supermarket chain a greater foothold in the African regional market.

TM has 51 stores. Pick n Pay currently has 17 stores in Namibia, 12 in Botswana, 7 in Swaziland, 1 in Lesotho and one in Zambia, which opened in July 2010.

Pick n Pay first invested in TM, part of the Harare-listed Meikles group, in 1996.

"The conversion to the US Dollar as the currency in Zimbabwe has provided a significant amount of stability and was a key factor in our decision to purchase this additional shareholding. With the additional capital available, we believe there is significant upside potential in the TM operation," Pick n Pay CEO Nick Badminton said in a statement.

TM Supermarkets CEO Mark Vickery said to refurbish his stores to get them back to "world-class" standard would cost about US$40 million.

The transaction remains conditional on the approval of the relevant Zimbabwe regulatory authorities and the South African Reserve Bank, Pick n Pay said.

Foreign investors remain wary of putting money in Zimbabwe, given the further uncertainty over proposed legislation mandating 51% indigenous ownership in any company.