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Zimbabwe brewer Delta drops hard currency payment plan

Zimbabwe-based beer and soft drink company Delta Corp. Ltd. on Jan. 3 scrapped its decision to only accept hard currency for its beverages after the government opposed the move.

The brewer, which is 40% owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev SA, announced Jan. 2 that it will no longer accept payments in electronic U.S. dollars or the quasi-currency known as bond notes beginning Jan. 4 amid the shortage of foreign currency in the country.

In a letter addressed to customers, Delta said the foreign currency allocations that it receives from banks are limited and are no longer enough to fund the company's import requirements.

"Resultantly all our foreign suppliers are unable to continue providing credit or meet new orders as some of them have not been paid for extended periods," the company said.

Delta produces sparkling beverages and beer under a number of brands, including Castle, Bohlinger's, Carling Black Label, Eagle, Golden Pilsener and Lion. The company said the cost of local materials and services have increased both in U.S. dollar and in real time gross settlement, or RTGS, which is a form of electronic payment system that lets people transfer funds between banks.

However, a day after making the announcement, Delta notified customers in a tweet that it is abandoning its previously announced plan following a meeting with Zimbabwe's vice president, Constantino Guveya Dominic Nyikadzino Chiwenga, and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

In the statement, Delta said the Reserve Bank will "endeavor to provide the foreign currency required to ensure that Delta continues to trade on the current basis."