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New acquisitions boost Chobe profits

Publishing Date : 10 June, 2019

Author : ALFRED MASOKOLA

Chobe Holdings Limited, Botswana’s domestic tourism and hospitality group posted positive results for their financial year ended February 2019 after making several new acquisitions as well as renovations in their existing camps and lodges during the prior year.


According to financial results released by the Botswana Stock Exchange listed group, during the period under review occupancy increased by 5 percent due to growth in available beds following renovations at Chobe Game Lodge and the addition of Dinaka to the Group’s portfolio.


During the financial year, the Group spent, from internally generated cash flows, P82.4 million on the purchase of game drive vehicles, boats, a Cessna caravan significantly improving existing buildings and equipment.  Chobe further reports that the acquisition of Dinaka Safari Lodge and the three property owning companies 1st September 2017 by Ker and Downey Botswana, a wholly subsidiary of Chobe, forming the Dinaka Conservancy, gave rise to P26.6 million goodwill.


The lodge was subsequently rebranded and reopened as a Ker & Downey property n 1st March 2018. Furthermore Chobe says during the financial year under review the company commenced the induction and boarding of agents through Dinaka on educational tours to familiarize themselves with the concept of conservancy tourism, a pioneering and otherwise non-traditional Botswana.
According to Chobe Executive management height end conservancy tourism is relatively new to Botswana, with currently no existing entities to benchmark with. “We have therefore used currently available booking data and cash flows from existing camps as models, modifying them to estimate future cash flows from cash flows for Dinaka, to assess the goodwill for impairment in accordance with IFRS” explained J M Gibson, Chobe CEO and Deputy Chairman. The assessment according to Gibson indicated that there was need to write down the goodwill by P7.4 million.
On the revenue front, figures went up by13 percent after a boost from increased bed night’s old, marginal increase in achieved bed night rates in US Dollar terms and depreciation of the Pula against the US Dollar. When gauged against the financial year ended February 2018 Chobe also attributes increased occupancy figures to enhanced marketing efforts.
Group Profit after tax closed the year at 15 percent increase when gauged against the previous year end. Yearend operating cost figures grew by 14 percent, which considered satisfactory in light of increased volumes of business and current inflation levels.
During the year under review Chobe distributed P1.5 million to phantom share scheme, a window opened in February 2013 which allows employees participation in the dividend distribution of the Group. The scheme allows all qualifying staff to share equally in a bonus which is calculated to be equal to the value of dividends attaching to three million shares in the Company.
Post February 2019 Chobe through its wholly owned subsidiary Ker & Downey Botswana acquired the entire issued stated capital of Nelle Investments ,a property owning holding leases for two game farms in the Hainaveld area for a cash consideration of P15.4 million financed using the Group ‘s internal cash resources . Chobe says the two properties will be utilised to increase the extent of the land holdings currently held by Dinaka Conservancy.
Going forward Chobe says it continues to invest considerable resources to improve its marketing strategies, product offerings and cost controls. “The Group’s strong cash position provides us with the opportunities that may arise.” Said Gibson. Tourism in Botswana is earmarked to provide much needed economic diversification away from mining. This diversification drive, according to the World Tourism Organization needs however, to be cautiously applied to avoid “over tourism”, a relatively new buzzword for tourism congestion, management and carrying capacity. “Over tourism” identifies that the true challenge is not so much the number of visitors, but the capacity to manage them. All this whilst preserving the environment.
Chobe says the continued underperformance of Air Botswana hinders growth in the sector. “For the tourism industry to grow to its full potential there is need to have other airlines with relatively reliable performance to be introduced to the Botswana skies both domestically and internationally” said Chobe Boss in the financial statement.
Chobe Holdings Limited owns and operates, through its wholly owned subsidiaries, eleven eco-tourism lodges and camps on leased land in Northern Botswana and the Caprivi Strip in Namibia with a combined capacity of 314 beds under the brands Desert & Delta Safaris and Ker & Downey Botswana.
 Safari Air, a wholly owned air charter operator, provides air transport services to the group's camps and lodges. Desert and Delta Safaris (SA) (Pty) Ltd, another wholly owned subsidiary operating in South Africa, provides reservation services to the group. The company got incorporated in Botswana in 1983 and listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange in September 29th 1999.

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