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Diamond Miner Namdeb in USD65 m overdraft

13 february 2009

The Namibian Government is said to have provided a USD32, 5 million surety to Namdeb to renew its USD65 million revolving overdraft facility with local banks.
Namdeb Managing Director Inge Zaamwani-Kamwi told a local daily that the diamond miner had sought “letters of comfort” from its shareholders to maintain its overdrafts with all four commercial banks. 
Such surety is provided in the “unlikely event of Namdeb being unable to pay off the overdraft,” she said.
The Namibian Government and DeBeers each hold 50 per cent shareholding in Namdeb.
She said Namdeb was still in discussion with the banks, adding that some have already approved the renewal of the company’s overdraft.
Though Namdeb’s External Affairs and Corporate Communications Group manager, Hilifa Mbako, called it a “letter of support” without any monetary value, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Mines and Energy, Joseph Iita, said the two shareholders each provided an equal guarantee of USD32,5 million to the banks to renew Namdeb’s overdraft. 
Iita said because of the current global financial crisis local banks needed a guarantee that Namdeb could afford the more than half-a-billion overdraft.
Zaamwani-Kamwi said the Namibian Government had been prepared to stand by its 50 per cent shareholding in terms of the size of the surety provided, and that a “letter of comfort” had been issued to Namdeb to give the go-ahead in renewing its overdraft facilities. 
Mbako has since denied that the company either sought a “bailout or guarantee ranging from USD15 million to USD50 million in order to secure business cash flow”. 
Namdeb’s 2007 financial results indicate a net bank overdraft amount of USD34 million.

Veronica Novoselova, Rough&Polished African bureau editor in Namibia