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First Capital Bank devours Bank of India

First Capital Bank Botswana is moving to sweep out the footprints of Bank of India Botswana, by taking over its local business, following the Indian banker last year decision to shut down its local subsidiary. 

Bank of India Botswana was said to be among culprits contributing to the Indian born financial institution being dogged by “a sharp rise in non-performing assets (NPAs)” for almost two years since the last quarter of December 2017.  The operations in India, positive and negative, directly affect Bank of India’s subsidiaries including the one in Botswana. As if being marred by failure to compete financially and having ballooning NPAs due to worsening asset quality, the Reserve Bank of India (Indian central bank) has currently raised a red flag on Bank of India and other 10 private bankers by placing stern restrictions on them “not to issue any fresh loans and should hire new personnel.”

According to reports from the Asian country, the Indian central bank is imposing sanctions “as restrictions on couple to enforce certain restrictions on couple of more public sector lenders under the Prompt Corrective Action mechanism due to worsening asset quality and Bank of India has been failing to put down the red flag placed against it. 
 Last year’s reports said Bank of India will close three subsidiaries in Botswana, Uganda and New Zealand in a desperate move to salvage capital.

 According to reports Bank of India is selling its operations so that it can raise P500 million in capital which it can then use to shore up its domestic capital. Since setting its footprints in Botswana six years ago, Bank of India has managed to plough only on e branch cum head office in Botswana. Regarded as one of the top five banks in India is 113 years old and it was once state-owned entity before becoming nationalized in 1969.

First Capital Bank, the entity acquiring, has been ongoing a process of rebranding and seeks to grow according to its Botswana management.  Formerly Capital Bank, First Capital Bank has banking and finance operations in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It has four branches in Botswana and it will be clenching its claws on the two operations which are run by Bank of India.

First Capital Bank has so far proposed acquisition of 100 percent issued and paid up ordinary shares of Bank of India Botswana to Competition Authority of Botswana. The antitrust body is currently assessing to see if there arises any anti-competition practice in this acquisition.
“According to section 57(3), of the Competition Act, “any person, including a third party not a party to the proposed merger, may voluntarily submit to the inspector or the Authority any document, affidavit, statement or other relevant information in respect of a proposed merger”.

The Competition Authority therefore seeks any stakeholder views for or against the proposed merger, which may be sent within 10 days from date of this publication (12 February 2019),” said the Competition Authority. While investigating the acquisition, the Competition Authority has found that First Capital Bank is a company incorporated in accordance with the Laws of Botswana but controlled by First Capital Bank Plc Malawi; Everglades Holdings (Pty) Ltd, Botswana; Premier Capital Ltd, Mauritius; Prime Bank Ltd, Kenya; and members of the Anadkat Family.

“First Capital Bank Plc is a commercial bank registered in Malawi and listed on the Malawi Stock Exchange, with no other business interests in Botswana. Everglades Holdings (Pty) Ltd is an investment holding company wholly owned by Hemantkumar Kantilal Patel, a British citizen with other diverse business interests in Botswana, not within the banking sector. Prime Bank Ltd is a commercial bank registered in Kenya, with no other business interests in Botswana.

Premier Capital Mauritius Ltd is wholly owned by Hitesh Natwarial Anadkat (the non-executive Chairman of First Capital Bank plc Malawi) with no other business interests in Botswana. The Anadkat family being Hitesh N. Andakat’s wife and children holds British passports with no other business interests in Botswana,” says the local antitrust body. Competition Authority further states that First Capital Bank is a commercial bank, providing deposits, loans to corporates, individuals and Small Medium Micro Enterprises [SMMEs].

First Capital Bank operates a total of four branches and five loan centres across Botswana, specifically in Francistown, Gaborone, Kanye, Mochudi, Mogoditshane and Palapye, according to the antitrust body.  It further states that First Capital Bank has two subsidiaries: Diron Ridge (Pty) Ltd and Jetwig Enterprises (Pty) Ltd; both of which are not in operation.The Directors of FCBL are Hitesh N. Anadkat; Hemantkumar K. Patel; Stephen D. Pezarro (all British); Daniel Swabi, Judy N. Tsonope and Boitumelo K. Tibone (all Batswana), says Competition Authority.

The Directors of Bank of India Botswana, the entity targeted for acquisition by First Capital Bank, are Atanu K. Das; Uddalok Bhattacharya (both Indians); Naseem B. Lahri; Tlhopane N. Motsepe; Felicia B. January and Pauline Oreeditse Motswagae (all Batswana).

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Gambling Authority tender dangles as a jittery lottery quandary

30th November 2020
SEFALANA MD: CHANDRA CHAUHAN

Lucrative and highly anticipated national lottery tender that saw several Batswana businessmen partnering to form a gambling consortium to pit against their South African counterparts, culminates into a big power gamble.

WeekendPost has had a chance to watch lottery showcase even before the anticipated and impending national lottery set-up launches. A lot has been a big gamble from the bidding process which is now set for the courts next year January following a marathon legal brawl involving the interest of the gambling fraternity in Botswana and South Africa.

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The uncertainty of getting the next meal in Botswana

30th November 2020
uncertainty of getting the next meal

Households representing more than half of Botswana’s population-mostly residing in rural areas- do not know where their next meal will come from, but neither do they take into consideration the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume.

This is according to the latest Prevalence of Food Insecurity in Botswana report which was done for the 2018/19 period and represents the state of food insecurity data even to this time.
The Prevalence of Food Insecurity was released by Statistics Botswana and it released results with findings that the results show that at national level 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity in 2018/19, while 22.2 percent of the population was affected by severe food insecurity only.

According to the report, this translates to 27 percent of the population being food secure that is to say having adequate access to food in both quality and quantity. According to Statistician General, Burton Mguni, when explaining how the food data was compiled, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is custodian of the “Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU)” and “Prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES)” SDG indicators, for leading FIES data analysis and the resultant capacity building.

“The FIES measures the extent of food insecurity at the household or individual level. The indicator provides internationally comparable estimates of the proportion of the population facing moderate to severe difficulties in accessing food. The FIES consists of eight brief questions regarding access to adequate food, and the questions are answered directly with a yes/no response. It (FIES) complements the existing food and nutrition security indicators such as Prevalence of Undernourishment.

According to the FIES, with increasing severity, the quantity of food consumed decreases as portion sizes are reduced and meals are skipped. At its most severe level, people are forced to go without eating for a day or more. The scale further reveals that the household’s experience of food insecurity may be characterized by uncertainty and anxiety regarding food access and compromising the quality of the diet and having a less balanced and more monotonous diet,” says Mguni.

The 50.8 percent of the population in Botswana which was affected by moderate to severe food insecurity are characterized as people experiencing moderate food insecurity and face uncertainties about their ability to obtain food. These people have been forced to compromise on the quality and/or quantity of the food they consume according to the report on food insecurity.

Those who experience severe food insecurity, the 22.2 percent of the population, are people who have typically run out of food and, at worst, gone a day (or days) without eating. According to the statistics, rural area population experienced moderate to severe food insecurity at 65 percent while urban villages were at 46.60 percent and cities/town were at 31.70 percent. Those experiencing the most extreme and severe insecurity were at rural areas making 33.10 percent while urban villages and towns were at 11.90 percent and 17.50 respectively.

According to a paper compiled by Sirak Bahta, Francis Wanyoike, Hikuepi Katjiuongua and Davis Marumo and published in December 2017, titled ‘Characterization of food security and consumption patterns among smallholder livestock farmers in Botswana,’ over 70 percent of Botswana’s population reside in rural areas, and majority (70%) relies on traditional/subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods.

The study set out to characterize the food security situation and food consumption patterns among livestock keepers in Botswana. “Despite the policy change, challenges still remain in ensuring that all persons and households have access to food at all times. For example, during an analysis of the impacts of rising international food prices for Botswana, BIDPA reported that food prices tended to be highest in the rural areas already disadvantaged by relatively low levels of income and high rates of unemployment,” said the study.

According to the paper, about 9 percent of households were found to be food insecure and this category of households included 6 percent of households that ranked poorly and 3 percent that were on the borderline according to the World Food Programme’s (WFP) definition of food security.

Media reports state that the World Bank has warned that disruption to production and supply chains could ‘spark a food security crisis’ in Africa, forecasting a fall in farm production of up to 7 percent, if there are restrictions to trade, and a 25 percent decline in food imports.

Food security in Botswana or food production was also attacked by the locust pandemic which swept out this country’s vegetation and plants. The locust is said to have contributed to 25 percent loss in production.

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Solid demand for diamonds towards the ‘gift’ season

30th November 2020
Diamonds

Global lockdown have been a thorn in diamonds having shiny sales, but a lot of optimism shows with the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, the precious stones will be bought with high volumes towards festive season. The diamond market is however warned of the resurgence of Covid-19 in key markets presents ongoing risks amid the presence and optimist about the new Covid-29 vaccines.

The latest findings published as De Beers Group’s latest Diamond Insight ‘Flash’ Report, which looks at the impact of the pandemic on relationships and engagements, has revealed that in the US that more couples than ever are buying diamond engagement rings. Bridal sales is mostly the primary source of diamond jewellery demand in recent months, De Beers said.

According to De Beers, interviews with independent jewellers around the US revealed that the rate of couples getting engaged has increased compared with the period when Covid-19 first had an impact in the US in the spring.

“In addition, despite challenging economic times, consumers were spending more than ever on diamond engagement rings – often upgrading in colour, cut and clarity, rather than size. Several jewellers speculated that with consumers spending less on elaborate weddings and/or honeymoons in the current environment, they had more to spend on choosing the perfect ring,” said De Beers.

According to De Beers, a national survey of 360 US women in serious relationships, undertaken in late October in collaboration with engagement and wedding website, The Knot. This survey is said to have found that the majority of respondents (54%) were thinking more about their engagement ring than the wedding itself (32%) or the honeymoon (15%), supporting jewellers’ hypothesis that engagement ring sales were benefiting from reduced wedding and travel budgets in light of Covid-19 restrictions.

When it came to researching engagement rings, online was by far the predominant channel for gaining ideas/inspiration at 86% of consumers surveyed, with 85% saying they had saved examples of styles they liked, according to De Beers. According to the survey, only a uarter of respondents said they had looked in-store at a physical location for design inspiration.

“For many couples, the pandemic has brought them even closer together, in some instances speeding up the path to engagement after forming a deeper connection while experiencing lockdown and its associated ups and downs as a partnership. Engagement rings are taking on even greater symbolism in this environment, with retailers reporting couples are prepared to invest more than usual, particularly due to budget reductions in other areas,” De Beers CEO Cleaver said.

According to De Beers Group, its Diamond Insight Flash Report series is focused on understanding the US consumer perspective in light of Covid-19 and monitoring how it evolves as the crisis evolves. Also, the company said, it is augmenting its existing research programme with additional consumer, retailer and supply chain touch-basis to understand the pain points and the opportunities for stakeholders across the diamond pipeline.

Demand for diamonds is as hard and resilient as the precious stone itself. De Beers pocketed US$ 450 million in its recently held ninth rough diamond sales cycle, and the company says it is more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the ninth sales cycle of 2020, with the Sight event extended beyond its normal week-long duration.

“Steady demand for De Beers Group’s rough diamonds continued in the ninth sales cycle of the year, reflecting stable consumer demand for diamond jewellery at the retail level in the US and China, and expectations for reasonable demand to continue throughout the holiday season. However, the resurgence of Covid-19 infections in several consumer markets presents ongoing risks,” said De Beers CEO Bruce Cleaver recently.

High expectations are on diamonds being a sentimental gift for holiday season or as the most fetished gift. However the ninth cycle was lower than the eighth which registered US$ 467 million. For the last year period which corresponds with the current one, De Beers managed to raise US$ 400.

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