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Capital Markets

Africa: Even Zimbabwe benefits from Africa-only funds

Demand for commodities and improving political and fiscal climates lead rapid growth across sub-Sahara region.

"It is interesting that for many companies, the cost of transporting their labour to the workplace, together with the cost of supplying lunch and tea, is more expensive than the wages they pay." Such is the view of Botswana-listed Imara Asset Management in a July report on its $10 million Zimbabwe-only fund. Most people might question the sanity of investing in that country, given its political and financial issues. Imara, however, which launched its Zimbabwe-only fund in March, is not the only asset management firm with exposure to the hyperinflation-afflicted economy. New York-based Terra Partners Limited has some $20 million devoted to its Zimbabwe-only fund, which it launched in January 2006. Russia’s Renaissance Capital, whose asset management arm is in the final stages of putting together a sub-Sahara ex-South Africa fund, reveals in its July 16 Africa strategy report that its regional hub for southern Africa would be Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, where the bank will maintain a small team of analysts.

Investors in Zimbabwe are to some extent holding out for an imminent change of government. But Imara’s fund, whose biggest holdings are in the manufacturing sector, actually rose by 3.6% in dollar terms in June.

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