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Cross soiled US$100m CSC deal

SEASONED opposition politician and businessman Eddie Cross wrote a damning letter to a potential investor in a US$100 million deal for the Cold Storage Commission (CSC) Boustead Beef Zimbabwe questioning the transaction, saying the company had no lease.

Cross also wrote strongly that the CSC Boustead Beef management lacked the capacity to take the meat processor out of the doldrums.

But the deal has since been signed between United States-based Ethos Asset Management (Ethos) and CSC Boustead Beef Zimbabwe.

CSC Boustead Beef Zimbabwe signed an agreement with Ethos in an arrangement that will see the American firm injecting capital into the cash-strapped firm.

Cross, who together with a group of investors wanted to muscle out Boustead Beef out of the CSC takeover, wrote an email to Ethos questioning the rationale behind investing in the meat processor.

Cross is a former CSC CEO in the 1990s.

In an email dated November 14 2022, seen by this publication, Cross wrote to Ethos Asset management claiming Boustead Beef Limited had no tenure or lease.

He further claimed, in the letter, that the beef company’s management lacked the qualities to steer the ship.

“I see from media reports that you are investing millions in CSC in Zimbabwe. I am pleased to hear that, but wonder just what has persuaded you to do so?

He went on: “I am concerned that you may not be aware of the background of this project or that the company involved has no real tenure rights, not even a secure lease. I would love to see the company revived but I cannot see that happening under the present management in any form.

“I was involved in CSC for more than 20 years and was the chief executive officer in the early 80s,” Cross wrote to Ethos.

Approached for comment, Cross confirmed penning the letter advising against the CSC deal.

“Its true, I wrote asking if they were fully aware of what they were doing in the CSC because the (Boustead Beef) company had fundamental rights of the property. I felt that they (Ethos) should be warned and look very closely at this transaction before they put their money on the table. CSC is a good for long term investment but it has to be done within the confines of proper legal with the government but at the moment that doesn’t exist,” he said.

Cross’s maneuvers come after the politician in 2021, through a consortium of local companies and industrialists, expressed interest in acquiring a 75% stake in CSC. They tabled a US$225 million investment proposal to the government.

The proposal could not proceed because the government had selected Boustead Beef to revive CSC under the Livestock Joint Farming Concession Agreement (LJFCA) signed in January 2019.

Contacted for comment, Boustead Beef Limited president and founder Nick Havercroft blamed Cross for sabotaging the deal.

“Cross has been trying to get his hands on CSC for the past four years. He keeps blowing his own trumpet and repeating that he was the CEO in the early 80s and that he raised money to modernise and build the new Bulawayo abattoir. I questioned him on this as the Bulawayo abattoir was built six years after he was removed as the CEO and was financed by the European Union (EU). Eddy was not part of this. 

“Times have changed; CSC is no longer a monopoly like it was when Cross was the CEO 40 years ago. Whatever happened to Cross’s multi-million ZimCoke/ Zisco Steel deal?” Havercroft questioned.

“The old Bulawayo abattoir was retired 40 years ago and Cross should do the same.”

Cross has been embroiled in other similar company problems, particularly in 2014 when Meikles executive chairman John Moxon wrote to Parliament complaining his conduct during an annual general meeting.

The Moxon complaint alleged that Cross had prematurely disclosed budget and finance committee findings on the Reserve Bank Debt Assumption Bill relating to Meikles Limited AGM. The parliament committee had not reported its findings.

In 2021, there were questions about Cross’ departure from the RBZ Monetary Policy Committee.

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