Meikles recoveres £11.7 million from Moxon

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    The previous board alleged that US$17,8 million had been taken out of the country, through companies and investment vehicles linked to Mr Moxon.

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    But the current board has included US$11,7 million in its financial results to March 31 2011 published yesterday.

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    The group indicated that the funds were earmarked for regional investments. “The previous figures simply do not conform to reality. The correct figure, which is substantive, has been reinstated in the current financials,” said Meikles financial director Mr Onias Makamba.

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    “The funds were remitted with full approvals to promote our regional ambitions such as the acquisition of the Cape Grace Hotel, the Mvelapanda and the Mentor, Meikles investments in South Africa. During the period under review, Meikles revenue stood at US$330,4 million and profit amounted to US$6,1 mil-lion.

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    The group’s TM Supermarkets achieved earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and armotisation of US$3,9 million compared to a US$5,9 million loss made in the previous period.

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    Some non-performing branches were closed during the period and new branches were opened in “sustainable” areas. Three sites have also been identified where new stores would be opened. The Pick n’ Pay deal now awaits approval and this is delaying the recapitalisation of TM Supermarkets.

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    Pick n’ Pay, with 25 percent in TM Supermarkets, wants to raise equity to 49 percent. “Pick n’ Pay Clothing will be introduced to TM in the coming months which will enhance the range and valued offered,” said the group.

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    EBITDA from hotels rose to US$3,2 million ahead of US$2,3 million made during the previous period. Cape Grace contributed US$1,7 million and the remainder came from local hotels. Occupancies in local hotels are showing strong recovery, said the group.

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    “Occupancy levels in 2011 were 43 percent, 45 percent and 66 percent for Meikles Hotel, Victoria Falls Hotel and Cape Grace Hotel.” On refurbishment of hotels, the phase one of Meikles will begin around August.
    Negotiations are also underway for the completion of Victoria Falls Hotel.

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    The group says it is further exploiting opportunities within the region through Mentor, to invest in the hotel and hospitality business. The group’s agro-processing subsidiary, Tanganda recorded reduced output and this was affected by reduced winter rains and late summer rains. At 8 602 tonnes, the bulk tea output was, however, slightly higher than 8 498 tonnes achieved in the previous year.

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    EBITDA was US$500 000 lower than US$1,6 million in the prior year. The group anticipates tea production to remain under pressure as a result on high labour costs and high electricity costs. Tanganda is set to commission its mineral water plant that was financed by PTA Bank.

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    Meikles said it is looking forward to introduce new investors in Tanganda “which will facilitate substantial growth in this important entity”.

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    In terms of recapitalisation, the group has identified financiers willing to advance medium- to long-term debt “at lesser cost” than market rates.

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    Negotiations to sell part of its equity to investors at subsidiary level are underway, but the group will maintain controlling interests in all units.

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    Liquidation of Cotton Printers, its textile subsidiary, has been completed and all approved creditors were paid off. However, plant and equipment remain unsold and still available to willing buyers.