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Gaetsaloe’s zigzag exit from BDC

Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) this week announced they have parted ways with their Managing Director Bashi Gaetsaloe. BDC Head of Strategy & Corporate Affairs, Boitshwarelo Lebang issued a brief statement confirming Gaetsaloe has left the organisation to pursue other opportunities.

 “BDC confirms the departure of Bashi Gaetsaloe from the employ of BDC as Managing Director to pursue other opportunities with immediate effect, the Corporation wishes to thank Bashi for his contribution to BDC and wish him well in his future endeavours,” reads a statement from Ms Lebang. Gaetsaloe who was appointed to the helm of the Government investment arm in April 2014, then a cash strapped organization with a stake in liquidating companies and failed national investment projects.

Gaetsaloe developed a 5 year strategy to return the wholly state owned government entity to profitability. Just half way through into the strategy, the former KPMG boss announced an over P200 million profit as of June 2016, making 100% growth in profits compared to over P100 million registered in 2015. However fast forward towards the completion of his strategy the BDC shareholder, Botswana Government is of the view that in a nutshell Bashi’s leadership failed to support the national course of industrialization and generation of new jobs.

Weekend post has established that Bashi Gaetsaloe was asked to resign, terminating his stay at BDC just two months before his contracts ends in March this year. “It’s what you call constructive dismissal. They asked him to resign otherwise they were going to fire him,” shared a highly placed source this Thursday.  This publication has established that contrary to public perception that the wholly owned government arm was making skyrocketing profits and satisfying its shareholder with dividend pay-out since Gaetsaloe’s takeover, Government is not convinced.

“His main undoing was that he had not made any money for BDC. He was just selling off what he termed non-performing assets and divesting from some minor industries then declaring revenue generated from these transactions as profits,” said a source close to the BDC Board.

DID HE RESIGN OR WAS HE PUSHED?

Gaetsaloe resigned from BDC on 14 January 2019 but was later slapped with a dismissal letter on 15 January 2019. He had written a resignation letter dated 14 January 2019 to Minister of Investment Trade and Industry, Bogolo Kenewendo but was asked to wait on the resignation.

In his letter Gaetsaloe indicated that, “I am proud of the work I have accomplished at BDC over the past 5 years.   I have led my team to claw this business back from imminent collapse to the successful enterprise we are today.  The business I inherited in 2014 had been losing about P100M a year for 5 years, was cashflow insolvent, with a heavily contaminated loan book, and had a reputation in tatters.

In 5 short years, I have built a strong, ethical and profitable business with cumulative profits of P784 Million, a fully funded pipeline, and over 1200 new jobs created.  While there is still much to accomplish, I am proud of what has been accomplished to date and believe these successes belong to all of BDC’s stakeholders.”

He had wanted to serve a three (3) months’ notice period working closely with the Board to ensure a smooth transition and handover period. “I believe very much in the role that BDC can and should play in the future growth and success of this country.  I am honored for the opportunity to lead this company and stand ready to assist in any way that I can to ensure its continued growth,” he said.

WHERE TO FOR GAETSALOE?

Bashi Gaetsaloe who couldn’t not be reached for comment is said to be heading for Barclays Bank top post, one of the country‘s leading money spinning corporate organisation. Though no statement released yet from the bank, Gaetsaloe is rumoured to be joining Barclays as Managing Director replacing Reinette Van Der Merwe whose contract is coming to an end.

Commercial banks have been under pressure from their regulator Bank of Botswana to localise their executive managerial positions, particularly CEO/MD positions. Observers submit that with Van de Merwe, a South African, leaving there is no way Barclays would replace her with another expatriate so they are under pressure to appoint a local.

“He didn’t make money for BDC, that’s why Public Accounts Committee rejected his P1 billion cash injection capital proposal, just disposing off some assets and declaring that as profits does not spark confidence, so government couldn’t risk that, Luckily for him he had already started negotiations with Barclays, of which we are yet to witness closing a deal,” said another source close to the echelons of power.

IN COMES LEKAUKAU?

Reports further suggest that the likely candidate to replace Gaetsaloe is former Standard Chartered Chief Executive Officer Moathodi Lekaukau. He joined BDC last year as Chief Investment Officer. A,t BDC‘s financial results presentation late last year Moathodi Lekaukau who is one Botswana‘s highly qualified and experienced corporate executives shared that the investment House has already closed in on 1 international deal, which entails acquiring a significant stake in a telecommunications company in Nigeria.

"This is a consumer based mobile operator business in a much bigger economy, the company is one of the top five in Nigeria, so we are looking at impressive returns here," shared Lekaukau. The former Standard Chartered Bank Chief Executive continued to reveal that his investment drive landed him in Ghana where BDC is closing in on another lucrative deal with a leading company in Ghana’s energy sector " the deal is almost 80 % complete, these are high revenue companies in bigger markets with vibrant economic activity, so we have no doubt we will get satisfactory return on investment".

He further shared that the state owned enterprise is also currently conducting some due diligence in Uganda with a view to invest in the country's emerging oil industry "we are in talks with a Businessman in Uganda who is looking at setting up an oil refinery plant" highlighted Lekaukau.

The former captain and Stanchart house resigned from Botswana’s oldest bank in 2017, he is viewed by commentators and observers as the most likely to take up the driving seat at Fairscape Precinct. Recent financial results for the year ended June 2018 indicate that BDC Group registered a 39 % increase in Profit before Tax after raking in P187 million compared to P135 million realised in 2017. The Group’s asset base grew by 5 % to P4.1 billion from P3.9 billion last year. At company level BDC gathered P244 million in Profit before Tax compared to P206 million recorded in 2017, mirroring 18 % increase.

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