OLAM International Limited, a global commodity trader, plans to sell its cotton assets in Zimbabwe as part of the group's restructuring, sources familiar with the transaction have said.
The Singapore-based company, with various operations around the world, has engaged a South African research and advisory firm to identify a buyer, most preferably a private equity company.
"There is ongoing restructuring at a global level which involves the disposal of some of the assets in Africa, Zimbabwe included," said a source who spoke on condition of anonymity because the matter is private.
"That is the thinking of the management and a consultant has been engaged."
Olam International is a leading global integrated supply chain manager and processor of agricultural products and food ingredients, supplying various products across 16 platforms to over 12 300 customers worldwide.
From a direct presence in more than 65 countries with sourcing and processing in most major producing countries, Olam has built a global leadership position in many of its businesses, including cashew, spices and dehydrates, cocoa, coffee, rice, cotton and wood products.
The firm currently ranks among the top 50 largest listed companies in Singapore in terms of value.
It owns 100 percent shareholding in the local operations. Olam Cotton (Zimbabwe) managing director Mr Aranyak Sanya could neither confirm nor deny when contacted for a comment recently.
"While we would not like to comment on speculation, it is important to note that our current focus is on the 2012-13 harvest which we are buying from farmers we supported and shall be subsequently ginning the same and marketing the lint and the seed," he said in a written response to this paper.
Olam's operations in Zimbabwe began in 2005 and the company is currently running an integrated cotton ginning model that provides inputs under the contract scheme.
Currently, Olam supports about 26 000 farmers through a countrywide network of 14 depots, according to its official website.
It is the third largest cotton firm after The Cotton Company of Zimbabwe and Grafax Cotton in terms of market share, according to Cotton Ginners Association, a local grouping of cotton merchants.
Apart from Zimbabwe, Olam International has operations in South Africa, Zambia and Mozambique.