Shingai Mutasa or Shingi Mutasa owns TA Holdings and is the big brains behind the Joina Centre (one of the modern office buildings in Harare metropolitan area). TA Holdings is a diversified group listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange with a current net value of over US$100 million. “My vision is like a rock, it’s unshakable. But today, the challenges we have are of a country lacking a vision,” he said.
A graduate of the University College London with a BSc (Econs) Hons degree in 1980, Mutasa returned to Zimbabwe after completing his studies and commenced upon a career in commodity trading and marketing through a family-owned company. He co-founded Venture Finance, an investment vehicle that bought into TA Holdings with the objective of turning it into a continental investment group.
Joina City, Harare
“I started working with my father from 1980-1992 and that’s when I learnt the power to empower.
“He gave me the opportunity to make mistakes. We were traders, but we later became a continental trading company. “But my father told me to do things I am passionate with. I then later realised that I had no future in trading. After trying and failing, we managed to take control of TA Holdings in 1997.
“We had acquired a group that was riddled with debt. Between 2001 and 2005, we managed to clean up TA’s balance sheet.” Mutasa also spoke about the Joina Centre, which he refers to as the Joina City.
He said the building was born out of his conversation with one renowned architect, the now late Mr Vernon Mwamuka, while they were in New York.
“Joina City was not driven by money, but a vision and passion for the country,” he said. The multi-million 23-story building will be the largest, though not tallest high rise in Harare when finished. (The tallest is the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe building). The Joina Centre’s 23 floors include three levels of parking, four levels of retail section and 16 levels of office space. The construction of the levels of parking and retail sections are complete. The construction of the outside of the levels of office sections is complete with the contractor now working on the electrical and mechanical aspects of the building.
Shingi Mutasa and son on a game drive in Botswana
The building has remained unfinished for 12 years owing to escalating costs of construction materials. However, a wealthy Saudi prince has invested in the project. Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Alsaud, quietly sneaked into the country in 2005 and toured the Joina Centre, whose construction started in 1997. The visit by the Saudi Arabian billionaire, brightened prospects for the completion of the state-of-the-art centre. Commenting on the Prince’s visit, Mutasa said it was significant for Zimbabwe in that the Saudi, who at one point was the second richest man after Microsoft chairman Bill Gates, had already promised to invest more funds in Africa.
“He wants to put a billion (United States) dollars into Africa and Zimbabwe is one of the countries he has invested in. The fact that he put more money into Joina Centre signifies his commitment to Zimbabwe and I believe it is up to us as Zimbabweans to decide whether men like that can be excited to invest in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Joina Center Harare Zimbabwe
The TA chairman said the long period taken to complete the project should be viewed in the context of the tough environment the construction industry was operating under.
“We need to appreciate the environment. It is not easy to build when inflation and the exchange rate have moved the way they have done.
“We were working with an exchange rate of eight to one against the United States dollar when we started. There is no doubt that the exchange rate and inflation have dealt us a heavy blow.
Mutasa remains a humble man.
Shingi Mutasa is a very humble and he is a family man. Shingi lives in Harare but was born and grew up in the eastern boarder town of Mutare (Manicaland).
What advice can Mutasa give to business people?
“My success hinges on four words, name, value, integrity and vision.” And his advice to other business people in the country is that a company should be ethical in all its dealings.
“Equip company boards with the right people. If you get a good board you will win and board members do not cost you much,” he said.
Shingi Mutasa buys BP Assets
One of Zimbabwe’s richest business tycoons Shingai Mutasa won a bid to acquire BP & Shell Marketing Services (BPSMS)’s refined oil marketing assets in Zimbabwe, including depots and service stations, through FMI Zimbabwe, a wholly owned subsidiary of his London-listed investment company, Masawara plc.
The Shell Petroleum Company trades under the BP franchise in Zimbabwe.
Collectively, BPSM local assets include 73 retail sites, six country depots, four town depots and a lubricants plant, now dormant, among others.
The facilities are currently being rented by a number of indigenous oil dealers such as Redan Petroleum, Sakunda Energy and Comoil, which were also vying for the same assets in a counter-bid to South Africa-based Engen Petroleum and KenoilKobil, which lost the deal on indigenisation grounds.
BP Southern Africa CEO Sipho Maseko on Monday revealed the global energy company had in principle agreed to sell its assets to FMI Zimbabwe.
“With their experience and existing businesses in Zimbabwe, we believe that FMI Zimbabwe will be able to build on BPSMS’s good assets and grow the business further in line with their plans,” Maseko said.
Masawara in which Mutasa owns 63,4%, also confirmed the deal through a spokesperson.
“As a Zimbabwean company we look forward to growing this business and meeting the needs of all Zimbabweans,” the spokesperson said.
The deal is expected to easily pass the indigenisation test given that both Masawara and FMI Zimbabwe are locally-owned.
Registered in Jersey, Masawara sold 29,9% to London-based Invesco plc in August and subsequently listed on AIM, raising approximately $25 million to finance strategic acquisitions in the country.
In spite of the dilution, Mutasa is confident to grow his empire by leaps and bounds through Masawara, where he sits as a non-executive director.
He is also the executive chairman of TA Holdings, a rapidly expanding investment company in which Masawara owns 30%.
Masawara also owns 40% of Joina City, the largest retail and commercial property in Harare.