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Government weighing options on Sunbird shareholding

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Tourism Minister, Salim Bagus, has said the government is still considering how best it could dilute its shareholding in hospitality chain, Sunbird.

Bagus was speaking in Salima on Tuesday when he toured the construction site of the multi-billion kwacha Waterfall Hotel which Sunbird is constructing next to Sunbird Livingstonia.

Over the years, minority shareholders of the Malawi Stock Exchange-listed firm, have been pushing for the government, which holds about 71 percent stakes in the hospitality giant, to weaken its holding in Sunbird, a move they believe would help unlock shareholders value.

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“Well that issue is still under discussion and as the government we will see what could be done. That is not a worrisome issue at the moment and we will deal with that matter,” he said.

The minister said he was impressed with Sunbirds efforts to promote tourism in the country.

Bagus said he was impressed with progress on the hotel project which, once finished, would help attract more tourists to Malawi.

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Sunbird Projects Committee Chairperson, Charlie Msusa, said the first phase of the 100-room hotel is expected to be completed by June next year and would cost about K4.8 billion.

Msusa said the first phase would see the construction of 42 rooms.

He said Sunbird expects the hotel to cost around K20 billion which would be sourced from the money market.

Sunbird Chief Executive Officer, Yusuf Olela, said business has been slow in the first half of the year but that the group expects it to pick up in the second half.

Olela said Sunbird has embarked on a number of projects to improve guest experience.

“We are constructing new state-of-the-art conferencing facilities at Sunbird Mount Soche as well as a heated swimming pool and gym at Sunbird Ku Chawe among many other projects,” Olela said.

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