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Brewer SABMiller says Zimbabwe reinstated in results

LONDON, Oct 18 – Britain-based brewer SABMiller announced on Monday that its Zimbabwe division has been reinstated into the group\’s official results after a turnaround in the troubled nation\’s economy.

"Following the stabilisation of the economy in Zimbabwe after the effective adoption of the US dollar as its currency, we have included our share of Zimbabwe\’s volumes and results for the first half of this year," SABMiller said in a statement.

The drinks giant also revealed that total lager volumes rose by just one percent in first half of its financial year, or six months to September, aided by Asia and Africa.

However, lager sales fizzed 11 percent higher in Africa, boosted by Zimbabwe unit Delta Corporation. Stripping out Zimbabwe, African sales grew by a solid 7.0 percent. Asian volumes jumped ten percent while Europe fell five percent.

SABMiller, which owns 36 percent of Delta, stopped including the division in its official results four years ago amid chronic foreign currency shortages and economic chaos.

Zimbabwe\’s economy was hit hard by hyperinflation during a decade-long freefall which impoverished the country. But prices have stabilised since the nation\’s government abandoned the worthless local currency last year.

"Managing the company over the last eight years has been the business equivalent of white water rafting," said Delta chief executive Joe Mutizwa in a separate statement.

"The challenges have been large, varied and relentless. The demands have been many … requiring perpetual vigilance and constant adaptation.

"The greatest reward, for me, has been to assist young managers to take charge of the destiny of the company in the middle of a blinding macro-economic sandstorm."

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He added: "We are now better placed to face new and different challenges going forward."

Delta is Zimbabwe\’s biggest brewer and soft drinks bottler, with key brands including Castle Lager, Eagle, Lion Lager, Carling Black Label, Golden Pilsener, Bohlinger\’s and Chibuku.

Zimbabwe\’s economy has shown signs of recovery since the formation of a power-sharing government last year by President Robert Mugabe and long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai. The economy grew by 4.7 percent last year, ending 12 years of contraction.

British insurer Old Mutual owns around 22 percent of Delta, with the rest held by local institutional investors in Zimbabwe, according to a company spokesman.

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