HARARE-Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed financial services giant, First Capital Bank (FCB) said Monday it had placed on hold a plan to unbundle and separately list its non-core assets on the domestic bourse, in a shock move that came only two months after its board had given its blessings to the transaction.

In her tease statement announcing the shift, FCB company secretary, Violet Mutandwa did not disclose why the deal had been stopped.

FCB is the successor commercial bank of the former Barclays, which was snapped by Mauritius headquartered First Merchant Bank (FMB) in 2016.

In the aftermath of the transaction, a name change came in, subsequent to which the September 2018 restructuring proposal was made.

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Under the FMB deal announced in May 2016 following regulatory approvals by a string of Zimbabwean agencies including the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, Barclays Plc disposed of an effective 42,7 percent shareholding in Barclays Bank Zimbabwe, retaining only 10 percent in one of Zimbabwe’s oldest banks.

Last year, FCB said in a shareholder update it would unbundle its 50 percent interest in property holding company, Makasa Sun (Private) Limited.

But subsequent to the September cautionary, the bank had noted in December that its board of directors had approved, subject to regulatory and other approvals, the proposal to restructure.

But on Monday, the bank withdrew the cautionary.

“Further to the cautionary statement issued by the board on 14 September 2018 which was last renewed on 31 December 2018, the board advises shareholders and members of the public that the proposed unbundling of the company’s non-core banking properties into a separate entity to be listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange has been placed on hold,” Mutandwa said in a cautionary.

“Accordingly, shareholders and the investing public are advised to take note of the withdrawal of the cautionary statement,” she said.

Drama in the deal

The Barclays Plc/FMB transaction deal clearly left Barclays management stunned at the time, as they had hoped to thwart the bid, after they had rushed to court to force Barclays Plc to consider their own offer.

The consummation of the transaction, which appeared to have been going towards a protracted battle at the time, indicated Barclays Plc’s resolve to quickly dispose of the asset.

Workers were caught up in the middle, and had been divided right through the middle amid indications that political factions in the ruling ZANU-PF party were involved.

About 63 low-level managerial workers filed an urgent application at the High Court seeking a court order against the planned sale to FMB, or to any other investor, saying they should get the right of first refusal.

They added that the sale needed to comply with the country’s tough indigenisation laws that have since been reviewed.

The workers had asked the court to interdict Barclays Bank Zimbabwe “from disposing its shares or business to the Malawi investors or any other investors without, firstly, consulting the applicants (workers), as required in terms of the Labour Act,” the workers said in their court application.