Foreigners Grab Chance to Exit Zimbabwe’s Stock Market

HARARE (Bloomberg) — Foreign investors who had been stuck with their holdings in Zimbabwe stocks because of hard-currency shortages have latched onto dollar auctions to exit the market and repatriate funds.

The government allowed stock trading to resume on Aug. 3 after a more than five-week halt, with the central bank also freeing up hard currency at weekly auctions to allow for dividend payments and divestments. Foreigners have since sold Z$4.2 billion ($52 million) worth of stocks, with buying amounting to just Z$120 million, according to data provided Wednesday by the exchange.

“There has been pent-up demand from investors stuck here for a long time,” Zimbabwe Stock Exchange Chief Executive Officer Justin Bgoni said by phone.

The central bank started the auctions in June when a currency peg of 25:1 to the U.S. dollar was abandoned and has so far allocated more than $14 million for use by investors as dividend payments or to divest.

“Foreigners are still net sellers and definitely responding positively to liquidity in the auction,” said Lloyd Mlotshwa, the head of equities at Harare-based IH Securities. “Repatriations are indeed taking place, so we should expect foreigners to remain sellers, as long as funds are flowing out.”

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