Mauritius registration proves lifeline for Zimbabwe’s Lifestyle
Prior to the demerger of TN Bank, Lifestyle Holdings Ltd had a unique business model where it used furniture and other products as a conduit through which to acquire banking customers (Source: http://www.retail-digital.com/reports/tn-bank)
Lifestyle Holdings’ Mauritius registration may give the Zimbabwe-based industrial conglomerate a new lease on life. The company’s 2012 decision to place all its shares into a Mauritian special purpose vehicle, TN Harlequin International (TNHI), is finally reaping rich dividends in the export market.
Export firms are now showing keen interest in the group’s local manufacturing unit, TN Harlequin, a company official said on September 27. It may be noted that Lifestyle Holdings was formerly known as TN Holdings Ltd and underwent a name change in mid-2012 following the demerger of TN Bank Limited (its largest subsidiary) and its separate listing on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange. The company is now focusing on lifestyle products, with special emphasis on furniture manufacturing and retailing.
Lifestyle shareholders recently approved a resolution that gave TNHI the green signal to acquire the group’s shares to manage political risk and attract capital into the group.
Lifestyle CEO Tawanda Nyambirai said the group had been struggling to secure regional contracts due to the perceived political risk in Zimbabwe, but things were picking up following the Mauritian registration.
He said TN Harlequin had so far secured a $340,000-a-month supply contract with one of South Africa’s largest retailers, OK South Africa.
Despite perceptions that South Africa was friendly to Zimbabwe, the CEO noted that his company spent two years trying to penetrate that country in a meaningful way. The South Africans cited Zimbabwe’s high political risk as a barrier to entry, he said.
Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe recently threatened foreign-owned companies with nationalization, dampening investor interest in the southern African emerging economy. He has vowed to press ahead with black ownership of foreign-owned companies, over what he says is the West’s interference in the politics of the country he has led since 1980.
Nyambirai said it was the strategic move to register Lifestyle in Mauritius that had eventually opened doors in South Africa, adding the company was now in the process of concluding other contract negotiations with top retailers in the neighbouring country.
Nyambirai said TN Harlequin products were expected to be competitive in the South African market because of their durability and quality at a time the neighbouring country is flooded with Chinese imports which have stifled its local furniture industry.
Lifestyle Holdings Ltd
Established in 2001 as a corporate finance service, the company developed into asset management before acquiring a Finance House in 2006, which was renamed TN Bank. In 2009 TNFH, the holding company of TN Bank successfully completed a reverse merger with Tedco, a Zimbabwean furniture company, to form TN Holdings.
The Zimbabwe-based group’s business was modelled around TN Bank Limited so the demerger of TN Bank Limited and its separate listing on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in July 2012 required the group to redefine its focus and identity. In this process, the company renamed itself Lifestyle Holdings Ltd and shifted its focus from banking to lifestyle products and services.
TN Harlequin Luxaire Limited, formerly Springmaster Corporation Limited, the largest furniture manufacturer and retailer in Zimbabwe, remains the group’s largest business on the back of which it has launched TN Mart, a FMCG business, and TN Grill, a quick service restaurant business (QSR). Both TN Mart and TN Grill have leveraged not only on TN Harlequin Luxaire Limited’s financial resources but also on its expansive distribution network that has high traffic. Once both TN Mart and TN Grill have gained critical mass, they shall each be demerged leaving the furniture business separated from the FMCG and QSR businesses.
At the group’s Strategy Seminar for 2013, the group identified its most important investment as the TN Livestock Trust (Private) Limited (TNLT). This is a livestock banking company that has started receiving livestock deposits and is expected to officially launch later this year. The group’s furniture business will get leather for lounge suites from TNLT, while both the FMCG and QSR businesses will get meat and related products from the TNLT. Therefore, the furniture, FMCG and QSR businesses all have strong synergies on which the businesses can leverage.
The group also has strong businesses lines in TN Medical Benefit Funds (Private) Limited, TN Healthcare (Private) Limited and TN Asset Management (Private) Limited.
Source: Company Website