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CBZ goes big on mortgages, loans

. . . Holtzman to unveil new board soon
. . . says bank has no plans to delist

CBZ HOLDINGS (CBZ), Zimbabwe largest financial services group by assets, plans to play a bigger role in various sectors of the economy, especially in mortgages and micro-financing The Financial Gazette can reveal.

Marc Holtzman, chairman of CBZ Holdings Limited.

Marc Holtzman, the group’s chairman, yesterday said CBZ’s new strategy will see the financial institution increasing its market share through aggressive financial inclusion.
“We have a plan to touch the lives of people in the agriculture, natural resources and consumer lending sectors. We want to unlock value in ensuring that people have access to housing. For instance, people in Zimbabwe have locked-up value in houses as the country only have 14 000 residential mortgages for a population of 14 million,” he told The Financial Gazette.
“In Rwanda, a country with almost the same population as Zimbabwe, our bank alone has 140 000 mortgages out of
300 000 mortgages in the whole country. If we can be aggressive in our micro, consumer and agriculture lending, I believe we’ll make a huge difference in Zimbabwe,” Holtzman said, adding the bank was also expected to unveil a new board soon.
The American banker also said CBZ had no plans to delist from the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and at a time speculation has been rife that the bank’s “new majority shareholders had plans of taking it private by mid-year, and offering minorities a 30 percent premium”.
With the financial group recently parting ways with several executives, multiple sources had told this paper that Blessing Mudavanhu’s bank would “transform itself into a super-bank through timely executive and product changes or diversification”.
“We recently recruited Tawanda Gumbo, who was formerly head of Deloitte in sub-Sahara Africa and has vast experience from various economies in Africa. He is an example of the type of talent we are trying to bring back into the country, something that was previously unheard of during the previous regime,” he said.
And Holtzman — a New Zealand-based banker — said his surprise appointment last year was engineered by Rwanda’s Paul Kagame.
“As you know… Kagame has a lot of respect… for President Emmerson Mnangagwa and I have been involved in the… Bank of Kigali — Rwanda’s largest bank — for the past 11 years and…Kagame urged me to look into Zimbabwe and make a positive contribution,” he said. The CBZ chair, who has over 30 years investment experience in natural resources, real estate, food, agriculture and transportation, indicated that there was a lot of American investor interest in Zimbabwe.
“This country has all the ingredients… for success. Zimbabwe has the potential not only to become the breadbasket of Africa, but a huge net exporter of food,” Holtzman, who also chairs a Khazkstan bank, said
“There is usually a lag between implementing reforms and seeing the results, and l am mindful… that patience will be rewarded..,” he said.
“I think l bring some perspective… because l saw the economic transformation of eastern Europe and Russia …their currencies were not convertible, but within three years the currencies became fully convertible and tradable. I look at the economic reforms and the things that are happening here … and am very convinced, and bullish about Zimbabwe’s future,” Holtzman added.