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Furnmart chickens out of BSE

It has emerged that top furniture retailer Furnmart has decided to bow out of the local bourse fearing that it might not meet the new Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) Listing Requirements which comes into effect on 1 January 2019.

According to reasons advanced by Furnmart in a recent statement, the grave concern is that, “the company will not meet the revised minimum free float after the permitted transition period and as aresult will not meet the conditions for remaining listed.” In simple terms, Furnmart fears that it will not meet the 30 percent minimum free float requirements of the new BSE listing. The furniture retailer finds the new listing regulation a little bit too strict and argues that it will not have the required time to meet the mandatory requirements. 

Among other things, the new regulations will see the local bourse transforming from a blanket approach which caters all asset classes to those specific to each type of security. The new requirements will see 75 percent of shares owned by the promoter locked in for two years for the main board. Another significant change for the main board is that three-year profit forecast is required if profit track record is inadequate. In these new regulations listed companies are compelled to have 30 percent of listed equity to be held by the public.

The other qualm is that theFurnmart shares has been decreasing since 2015 and has ranged between P0.53 and P0.55since October 2017. From P0.85 in the last quarter of 2016 to P0.70 last year, the share price continues to plummet. In the first quarter of 2017, the share price was P0.65 to P0.60 then P0.55. The share price remains at P0.55 pending delisting.

“In addition, the share has proved to be illiquid with only 3.04 percent of allshares trading in the 6 financial years and 0.02 percent from the start of the current financial year to theLast Practicable Date. The poor share performance and lack of liquidity are arguably compounded by the negative sentiment investors have shown towards the furniture industry in recent years following the poor performance of furniture companies listed in South Africa such as Steinhoff (owners of the JD Group) and the Lewis Group,” said Furniture in a recent statement.

Experts believes the company also suffers severe illiquidity, in the 12 months to 5 October 2018 only 0.18 percent of the issued share capital traded, with an aggregate value of only P591,831.Also, another reason for delisting is that the sector is not widely supported by many investors which further lessen any benefits of being listed, according to the furniture retailer.

Furnmart said, the changing investment, economic and regulatory environments that the furniture shop is exposed to create significant volatility in performance and requires more flexible and less governance driven management style to remain relevant and seize opportunities, with potentially more speculative decisions. This is less achievable as a listed company and is not necessarily suited to all current investors, according to Furnmart.

After looking at all the uncertainties of listing on the local bourse, Furnmart directors took a resolution that the shares be de-listed. SG Kleinwort Hambros Trust Company (CI) Limited as Trustee of The Marula Trust holds 221 229 300 shares representing 36.48 percent of the issued shares of the Company and ScotstrailInc holding 214 499 640shares representing 35.37 percent have each indicated it will vote in support of a resolution for delisting.

The two major shareholders who have a combined shareholding of 71.85 percent have each indicated that it will not disinvest from the company, and if an offer for the shares held by it is made to these entities, they will decline such offer. Furnmart chairman John  Mynhardt holds 4.31 percent while deputy chairman and John’s son TobiusMynhardt 4.31 percent of shares. Other directors, Fact Lebala have .17 percent while SubbaraoVenkataramani has only 0.02 percent of shares.

 

The Offer Price

An offer of premium market price of P0.65 has been put on table for “qualifying shareholders who elect to sell their Shares” and this will be a top agenda at the Extraordinary General Meeting slated for 11 December.  The P0.65 Offer is therefore being made to the minority shareholders as majority shareholders would not participate on the offer.

In an expert advice Imara Corporate Finance said the offer price of is not fair because it falls below, and represents a discount to, Imara’s fair-valuation range for Furnmart. Imara also says Furnmart has lost 76 percent of its peak market value from 27 August 2014 to 15 October 2018, thesecond largest loss for a domestic company on the BSE over the period. Over the same periodEBITDA, profit after tax, dividends and shareholder’s equity increased, enhancing Furnmart’srelative value compared to regional and BSE peers, says Imara. 

But the Offer is also reasonable because Furnmart’s price drop since September 2014 occurred amidst low trading activity, implying significant sell-pressure. According to Imara, the total number of Furnmart shares traded on the BSE over the last 12 months to 15 October 2018 was 1,090,931 which represents 0.18 percent of the total issued share capital and is an indication of the severe illiquidity of the Furnmart share price. The Offer allows minority shareholders the opportunity to sell their Furnmart shares in an otherwise illiquid stock.

“In the absence of a competing offer, and in the likelihood that the Delisting resolution will

be passed, the Offer provides Minority Shareholders with the opportunity to realise their

Investment in Furnmart at a premium to the current share price. The alternative to Minority

Shareholders is to remain in an unlisted company. The offer price of BWP 0.65 is at a 18% premium to the current share price and the 1-year high share price and at a 20% premium to both the 90-day and 1-year volume weighted average price. All Minority Shareholders are treated equally and without discrimination. No minority Shareholders are being forced to sell their Furnmart shares and can elect to remain as a shareholder in an unlisted company.  No Minority Shareholder has enjoyed any unfair advantage in terms of the Offer,” said Imara in a statement. 

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Business

BITC assisted companies rake in P2.96 billion in export earnings

21st June 2022
BITC-CEO-Keletsositse-Olebile

Despite Covid-19 interrupting trade worldwide, exporting companies in Botswana which benefited from the Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) services realised P2.96 billion in export earnings during the period from April 2020 to March 2021.

In the preceding financial year, the sale of locally manufactured products in foreign markets had registered export revenue of P2, 427 billion against a target of P3, 211 billion BITC, which celebrates 10 years since establishment, continues to carry out several initiatives targeted towards expanding the Botswana export base in line with Botswana’s desire to be an export led economy, underpinned by a robust export promotion programme in line with the National Export Strategy.

The main products exported were swamp cruiser boats, pvc tanks and pvc pipes, ignition wiring sets, semi-precious stones, veterinary medicines, hair braids, coal, textiles (towels and t-shirts) and automobile batteries. These goods were destined mainly for South Africa, Zimbabwe, Austria, Germany, and Namibia.

With Covid-19 still a problem, BITC continues to roll out targeted virtual trade promotion missions across the SADC region with a view to seeking long-lasting market opportunities for locally manufactured products.

Recently, the Centre facilitated participation for Botswana companies at the Eastern Cape Development Council (ECDC) Virtual Export Symposium, the Botswana-Zimbabwe Virtual Trade Mission, the Botswana-Zambia Virtual Trade Mission, Botswana-South Africa Virtual Buyer/Seller Mission as well as the Botswana-Namibia Virtual Trade Mission.

BITC has introduced an e-Exporting programme aimed at assisting Botswana exporters to conduct business on several recommended e-commerce platforms. Due to the advent of COVID-19, BITC is currently promoting e-trade among companies through the establishment of e-commerce platforms and is assisting local companies to embrace digitisation by adopting e-commerce platforms to reach export markets as well as assisting local e-commerce platform developers to scale up their online marketplaces.

During the 2019/2020 financial year, BITC embarked on several initiatives targeted at growing exports in the country; facilitation of participation of local companies in international trade platforms in order to enhance export sales of local products and services into external markets.

BITC also helped in capacity development of local companies to compete in global markets and the nurturing of export awareness and culture among local manufacturers in order to enhance their skills and knowledge of export processes; and in development and implementation of trade facilitation tools that look to improve the overall ease of doing business in Botswana.

As part of building export capacity in 2019/20, six (6) companies were selected to initiate a process to be Organic and Fair Trade Certified. These companies are; Blue Pride (Pty) Ltd, Motlopi Beverages, Moringa Technology Industries (Pty) Ltd, Sleek Foods, Maungo Craft and Divine Morula.

In 2019 seven companies which were enrolled in the Botswana Exporter Development Programme were capacitated with attaining BOBS ISO 9001: 2015 certification. Three (3) companies successfully attained BOBS ISO 9001:2015 certification. These were Lithoflex (Pty) Ltd, General Packaging Industries and Power Engineering.

BITC’s annual flagship exhibition, Global Expo Botswana (GEB) to create opportunities for trade and strategic synergies between local and international companies. The Global Expo Botswana) is a premier business to business exposition that attracts FDI, expansion of domestic investment, promotion of exports of locally produced goods and services and promotion of trade between Botswana and other countries.

Another tool used for export development by BITC is the Botswana Trade Portal, which has experienced some growth in terms of user acceptance and utilisation globally. The portal provides among others a catalogue of information on international, regional and bilateral trade agreements to which Botswana is a party, including the applicable Rules, Regulations and Requirements and the Opportunities for Botswana Businesses on a product by product basis.

The portal also provides information on; measures, legal documents, and forms and procedures needed by Botswana companies that intend on doing business abroad. BITC continues to assist both potential and existing local manufacturing and service entities to realise their export ambitions. This assistance is pursued through the ambit of the Botswana Exporter Development Programme (BEDP) and the Trade Promotion Programme.

BEDP was revised in 2020 in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) with a vision to developing a diversified export-based economy. The programme focuses mostly on capacitating companies to reach export readiness status.

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Business

Inflation up 2.3 percent in May

21st June 2022
Inflation

Prices for goods and services in this country continue to increase, with the latest figures from Statistics Botswana showing that in May 2022, inflation rate rose to 11.9 percent from 9.6 percent recorded in April 2022.

According to Statistics Botswana update released this week, the largest upward contributions to the annual inflation rate in May 2022 came from increase in the cost of transport (7.2 percent), housing, water, electricity, gas & other Fuels (1.4 percent), food & non-alcoholic beverages (1.1 percent) and miscellaneous goods & services (0.8 percent).

With regard to regional inflation rates between April and May 2022, the Rural Villages inflation rate went up by 2.5 percentage points, from 9.6 percent in April to 12.1 percent in May 2022, according to the government owned statistics entity.

In the monthly update the entity stated that the Urban Villages inflation rate stood at 11.8 percent in May 2022, a rise of 2.4 percentage points from the April rate of 9.4 percent, whereas the Cities & Towns inflation rate recorded an increase of 1.9 percentage points, from 9.9 percent in April to 11.8 percent in May.

Commenting on the national Consumer Price Index, the entity stated that it went up by 2.6 percent, from 120.1 in April to 123.2 in May 2022. Statisticians from the entity noted that the transport group index registered an increase of 7.3 percent, from 134.5 in April to 144.2 in May, mainly due to the rise in retail pump prices for petrol and diesel by P1.54 and P2.74 per litre respectively, which effected on the 13th of May 2022.

The food & non-alcoholic beverages group index rose by 2.6 percent, from 118.6 in April 2022 to 121.6 in May 2022 and this came as a result of increase in prices of oils & fats, vegetables, bread & cereal, mineral waters, soft drinks, fruits & vegetables juices, fish (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen) and meat (Fresh, Chilled & Frozen), according to the Statisticians.

The Statisticians said the furnishing, household equipment & routine maintenance group index rose by 1.0 percent, from 111.6 in April 2022 to 112.7 in May 2022 and this was attributed to a general increase in prices of household appliances, glassware, tableware & household utensils and goods & services for household maintenance.

The prices for clothing & footwear group index moved from 109.4 to 110.4, registering a rise of 0.9 percent during the period under review. Bank of Botswana has projected higher inflation in the short term, associated with the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices and added that the possible increase in public service salaries could add also upward pressure to inflation in this country.

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Global high inflation, slow growth bad news for Botswana

21st June 2022
World Bank President: David Malpass

In the latest June 2022 global economic prospects, released last week the World Bank has warned that low global economic growth and economic activity in global commodity markets such as China and Europe could negatively affect export revenues for Botswana and other Sub Saharan countries.

Recent data from Statistics Botswana show that Botswana’s exports destined to the global markets such as Asia and the European Union (EU) on monthly basis accounts for around 60.1 percent and 20.1 percent respectively.

The World Bank last week lowered its 2022 projections of global economic growth and indicated that the new forecasts could be bad news for countries like Botswana who are dependent on export mineral revenues. The Bank noted that just over two years after COVID-19 caused the deepest global recession since World War II, the world economy is again in danger and stated that this time it is facing high inflation and slow growth at the same time.

In the recent June projections, the bank lowered its forecast of global economic growth from the January 4.1 percent to 2.1 percent. “Our June forecasts reflect a sizable downgrade to the outlook: global growth is expected to slow sharply from 5.7 percent in 2021 to 2.9 percent this year. This also reflects a nearly one-third cut to our January 2022 forecast for this year of 4.1 percent,” a team of World Bank economists noted in the June 2022 Global Economic Prospects.

The World Bank indicated that exports from Botswana and other Sub Saharan countries could suffer from a substantial deceleration of activity in China and Europe. The Bank noted that exporters of industrial metals, crude oil, and ores such as Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, South Africa, and Zambia could suffer from a substantial deceleration of activity in China.

On the other hand a sharp contraction of growth in the euro area could hurt exporters of agricultural products such as beef, coffee, tea, tobacco, cotton, and textiles from Botswana, Ethiopia, Madagascar and Malawi. “The faster-than-expected deceleration of the global economy and increased volatility of commodity prices could hurt many SSA commodity exporters,” said World Bank President David Malpass.

Malpass indicated that subdued growth in the global markets for Botswana and other Sub Saharan exports will likely persist throughout the decade because of weak investment in most of the world.

He noted that with inflation now running at multi-decade highs in many countries and supply expected to grow slowly, inflation could remain higher for longer than currently anticipated. “Even if a global recession is averted, the pain of stagflation could persist for several years— unless major supply increases are set in motion. Amid the war in Ukraine, surging inflation, and rising interest rates, global economic growth is expected to slump in 2022. Several years of above-average inflation and below-average growth are now likely,” said Malpass.

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