Universal Industries (Malawi) Limited is engaged in talks that may see the company changing hands to be jointly owned by a local businessperson and a South Africa investor.
The firm’s general manager, Govindaraj Datchanamoorthy, confirmed in an interview last week that talks on the disposal of the biscuits, confectionery and beverages manufacturer have been ongoing.
He, however, could not divulge more information on the deal, saying such talks are sensitive.
Datchanamoorthy said for the firm, being a big player in the private sector, media publicity of such a transaction could have an impact on the company and potential investors.
But a potential investor, local businessperson Mike Chilewe Jnr of Mike’s Trading Limited, in an interview, confirmed he initially wanted a stake in the company, but said there are indications that he and a South African investor he declined to name, would buy the company in its entirety.
“Universal owners decided to sell the company to me and I am a partner to a South African-based company. Negotiations started last year in October,” he said.
“I can only confirm that the process is underway and a press release will be issued in April [this month] once everything has been finalised.”
Chilewe refused to indicate how much they are offering, saying that will be known at a later stage.
He, however, assured that once they have full ownership of Universal Industries, they do not intend to change anything in the company.
“I can assure you that no current employees will be made redundant, rather it is our plan to bring more life to the company,” he said.
Currently, the company, which was established in Malawi in 1957, employs more than 100 people and is one of the manufacturers of biscuits, confectionery, savoury snacks, beverages and nutritious foods in Malawi.
In transactions such as this one, the Competition and Fair Trading Commission (CFTC) is normally involved to determine if there are anti-competitive practices.
But CFTC director of consumer welfare and education Lewis Kulisewa on Tuesday said they are not aware of the transaction.
Universal Industries has contributed to value addition of locally-grown commodities by, among others, producing breakfast cereals with local rice and maize, entailing supply chain organisation, technical backstopping, machinery procurement and job creation. n