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Tagwirei completes US$30m Lafarge takeover, fortifies construction empire

Tycoon Kudakwashe Tagwirei’s Fossil Contracting company run by Obey Chimuka has completed the takeover of Lafarge Cement, in a deal that reportedly involved over 61 million shares at a negotiated price of US$29.7 million.

With the deal being sealed under controversial circumstances that allegedly involved disregard of the Competitive and Tariffs Commission regulations, Tagwirei now manages the largest cement company that will supply a cocktail of his companies.

In June this year, Holcim, Lafarge’s holding company, announced that, as part of its exit from the Zimbabwean economy, it had picked Fossil as the potential inheritor of the company.

Lafarge announced the latest development in a cautionary statement this week.

“The company wishes to advise shareholders and members of the investing public on the withdrawal of the cautionary announcement dated 18 November 2022, as the Sale and Purchase Agreement for the sale of 76.45% stake in the Company has been finalised.

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“The sale is thus soon to be concluded upon the transfer of the Company shares owned by Associated International Cement Limited to Fossil Mines (Private) Limited stake in exchange for the consideration agreed by the parties,” Lafarge said in a notice.

Fossil beat other bidders, among them Chinese cement giant Huaxin, because it went in with the backing of local banks and pension funds.

Tagwirei made his fortune in the construction and fuel industry a few years before the 2017 military coup that ousted former President Robert Mugabe, installing his ally, then Mugabe’s deputy, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

By 2018 his infant companies began to get several tenders through dubious processes now documented by international media and observer organisations.

Through the influence of Mnangagwa, Tagwirei’s Sakunda Holdings company was allegedly “corruptly” awarded a tender for the supply of services to the controversial Command Agriculture scheme involving billions of dollars financed by taxpayers.

It later emerged that more than US$3 billion was siphoned by a few companies including the Sakunda Command Agriculture scheme.

He continues to receive more government contracts, forming new companies and creating an empire that is scattered all over the government’s major economic market, especially construction.

With massive reports of corruption and aiding the Zanu-PF regime, Tagwirei’s company, Sakunda was slapped with sanctions by the US and UK governments. But he continued to do business by relocating his network to Mauritius and Dubai.