Implats cedes 51% of Zimbabwe platinum mine

Impala Platinum, the world's number two producer of platinum, has concluded a deal to sell a 51-percent stake in its Zimbabwean unit Zimplats under a government-imposed scheme to empower local blacks, it said on Friday.

The purchase price for the shares is $971 million (731 million euros).

"Implats is pleased to announce that its...subsidiary, Zimplats, has concluded a non-binding term sheet in respect of proposed indigenisation implementation plans with the government of Zimbabwe," the company announced.

"Zimplats Holdings will retain the balance of 49 percent of Zimplats," it said in a statement.

The deal to be signed later on Friday, is in compliance with a controversial indigenisation law which President Robert Mugabe signed in 2010 to force foreign-owned companies to cede 51 percent ownership to black Zimbabwean investors.

He has threatened to take over firms which do not comply.

But his partner in an uneasy powersharing government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, has criticised the law, saying it will drive away foreign investment, just as the country is recovering from a decade-long economic collapse.

Implats chief executive officer Terence Goodlace said that the agreement underlines the company's commitment to "good corporate citizenship"

It also "lays the foundation for the creation of a sustainable Zimbabwean platinum mining company capable of attracting the investment needed to deliver future benefits to our shareholders, the people of Zimbabwe, our employees and the local community," he said in a statement.

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