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Buoyant MVAF joins big guns in property market

Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (MVAF) finally got approval to purchase shares in a company that owns the lucrative Airport Junction Mall-one of the Fund’s biggest investment this year, after months of waiting,

MVAF acquired 24.85 percent shareholding in Feune Pty Ltd from Exrod Pty Ltd. Feune owns Airport Junction Mall meaning the Fund now owns the plush mall which is adjacent to; the A1 road which goes to the north and the Airport road heading to Sir Seretse Khama International Airport. The MVAF-Exrod merger which was under the keen perusal of the Competition Authority finally got approved by the antitrust body last week.

The antitrust body said it has determined through the analysis of the facts of the merger that, “the proposed transaction is not likely to result in the prevention or substantial lessening of competition, or endanger the continuity of the services offered in the markets under consideration. The market structure in the relevant market will not be altered, and as such this transaction does not raise any competition concerns. In addition, there are no public interest concerns that could arise as a result of the proposed transaction.”

MVAF provides universal compensation to people affected by road accidents, hence does not sell any products or services for a fee.  In its latest financial statement released last week, MVAF recorded that total assets increased from P3.82 billion in 2016 to P3.83 billion in 2017.
On the back of increases in non-current assets from P3.0 billion to P3.1 billion while current assets reduced from P808.7 million to P727.2 million. Also, according to the Fund financial results, the reserves reduced from P2.7 billion in 2016 to P2.6 billion in 2017 while non-current liabilities increased from P794.6 million in 2016 to P999.9 million in 2017.

Current liabilities on the other hand reduced from P313.0 million in 2016 to P247.2 million in 2017 according to the fund’s financials. The revenue streams of the Fund are the fuel levy, third party cover, investment income and Government subvention.  The fuel levy rate is 5 thebe per litre of petroleum product sold. The Fuel levy revenue comprises fuel levy charged to fuel importers into Botswana. This levy income is accounted for on an accrual basis and its rate is 5 thebe per litre.

 According to the latest financial results, the net fuel levy income increased by 3.6% from P50.1million in 2016 to P52.0 million in 2017. In its bid to increase its revenues, MVAF has perpetually advocated for the increase of the fuel levy rate for years. According to MVAF CEO Micheal Tlhagwane in the Fund’s latest financial results, the accident compensation fund is planning  “engagement with government for the restoration of fuel levy to its previous rate of 9.5 thebe per litre are ongoing as the Fund now heavily relies investment income to meet the costs of claims and operating costs, which poses serious financial risks.”

 
Tlhagwane said the Fund will also initiate a limited legislative review to ensure that both the MVA Fund Act of 2007 and the MVA Fund Regulations of 2008 are relevant to the current operating environment geared towards improving administration of claims. The other revenue source, Third Party cover, comprises of premiums charged on foreign registered vehicles which enter the country.  The Third Party Cover decreased by P2 million from P10 million in 2016 to P8 million in 2017.  

The investment income comprises of the of the following: (a)Interest income which is recognized on a time proportion basis, taking account of the principal outstanding and the effective rate over the period to maturity, when it is determined that such income will accrue to the Fund. (b)Dividends are recognised when the right to receive payment is established. These relate to investments in local and offshore investments.

Lastly, the other part of investment income is (c) rental income revenue includes gross rental income, service charges and management charges from properties and income from property trading. Rental income is accrued on a straight-line basis over the contractual periods as and when the Fund becomes entitled to the income.  Even though the investment income has decreased by P78 million from being P94 million in 2016 to P16 million in the current year, the Airport Junction Mall will directly falls in this portfolio.

The latest MVAF investment venture, Airport Junction mall, will be buoyed by currently undergoing extension where there will be 30 shops and 488 parking area according to information reaching this publication.  There are currently 74 tenants, 51 145m² of two retail floors, 104 stores and 2378 parking bays. Since its inception Airport Junction has always been a money spinning venture according to property experts and investors with a space of 41 445m².

Property expert Sethebe Manake said for anyone investing in property; whether an individual or a company, it will depend on how deep the pocket is because currently there are lots of risks involved in the property venture. She said she hopes anyone in the property venture knows what they are doing given the fact that household utility or the cost of living is currently higher-cushion needs to be exercised.

With a huge decline in investment income, MVAF hopes that buying Airport Junction mall will boosts its investment in property.  According to the MVAF the Fund’s Investment Portfolio was valued at P3.73 billion as at 31st December 2017, recording a marginal increase of P10.0 million from P3.72 billion reported as at 31st December 2016. According to MVAF CEO, the year 2017 was another challenging year in the history of MVA Fund, as for a second successive year, the Fund recorded a high total comprehensive loss owing to depressed primary sources of income like the fuel levy, high unrealized offshore foreign exchange losses and high claims provisions.

However on a positive, the Fund received 2 934 claims during 2017, representing a decline of 3% when compared to 3 019 claims received in 2016 and the decline was attributable to reduction in serious injuries. But the Fund failed to settle claims well as the settled claims were 2 340 in 2017 unlike 2 568 claims settled in 2016.According to MVAF chairman Abraham Botes, the Fund was affected negatively by unrealized foreign exchange losses on offshore investments as the Botswana Pula continued to strengthen against the United States Dollar.

The Airport Junction Mall will join others in MVAF property portfolio which consists of the MVA Fund Head Office building, residential property investments in Gaborone and Francistown as well as retail partnership properties in Palapye, Francistown and Maun.  According to MVAF, the portfolio was valued at P155.5 million as at 31st December 2017, recording an increase of P22.0 million from P133.5 million recorded in 31st December 2016. “The overall impact of the negative performance by the local equities as well as the decrease in money market instruments affected the asset growth despite the strong run by the offshore investments,” said the MVAF financial statement.

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Business

BTC profits rise to P832million

14th September 2021
BTC MD Masunga

This week, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL), the country’s only listed telecoms company, released its annual report for the financial year ended 31st March 2021.

The company, listed on the local bourse in a historic IPO in 2016, has been grappling with the uphill task of transforming from a wholly state-owned organisation to a fully commercial publicly listed entity. This excise has seen some financial years registering a decline in both revenue and profits.

On Tuesday, BTCL reported a significant rise in profits, attributable to a slight pick-up in revenue and serious cost containment measures. The beginning of the fiscal year saw the implementation of the company’s new three-year strategy, which is focused on strengthening the core business, optimising efficiencies and return on assets, and pursuing growth opportunities.

The start of the financial year coincided with the implementation of the national measures to contain the COVID-19 virus, leading to national lockdowns, which placed pressure on the BTCL performance for the first half of the year. “However, we have since seen a decent recovery in our financial performance year-on-year,” said BTCL Managing Director Anthony Masunga

BTCL Group, which comprises among other business segments: mobile, fixed and broadband, has reported revenue of P1.43 billion, which is a 1% increase over the prior year. According to BTCL directors, this increase in revenue was driven by the monetisation of significant investments in fixed and mobile broadband infrastructure in support of high-speed internet service at homes and offices across most parts of the country.

“We delivered a strong double-digit growth in profit after tax of 16% when compared with the prior year, driven by the slight increase in revenue and robust cost reduction strategies that improved EBITDA to P463 million, leading to an increase in cash,” Masunga explained. Cash and cash equivalents significantly increased by 20.4%, from P120 million in the prior year to P364 million at the end of March 2021.

The increase was driven by a positive cash conversion ratio of 52% and favourable working capital resulting from debt collection measures during the year. Masunga explained that the healthy cash balance enabled the BTCL to finance further expansion of its mobile data network and replace traditional copper connections with fibre to better support the needs of its customers.

“The uptake of our data products has been growing steadily, with the improving quality of service leading to increased revenues even as voice revenues declined,” he said. The cost of services and goods sold reduced by 3% from P612 million to P594 million when compared to the previous year, leading to an increase in gross profit for the year by 3%, an increase of P27 million to P832 million, translating to an improvement in gross profit margin from 57% to 58%.

Despite the increase in the top line, which would have led to a rise in the cost base, the Group Continued with its robust cost containment measures, leading to a slight increase in all other operating costs by P3 million. The control of costs led to an overall increase in the earnings before interest, depreciation, taxation and amortisation (EBIDTA) by P55 million, with a margin expansion of 370 basis points compared to the previous year.

The operating margin increased by 2% to 13%, coming from the earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to P186 million, a P24 million increase compared to the prior-year figure of P163 million.
Net interest increased significantly, driven by the new accounting treatment of the IRU liability. All the above led to an overall increase in the profit before tax of P27 million, which increased to reportable gain to P166 million.

The Group ended the year with a P135 million profit after tax compared to P117 million for the same period last year with a tax expense of P31 million in the current year, which is higher when compared to the P22 million reported in 2020. Therefore, the Group delivered an impressive 16% increase year-on-year with a 9% net profit margin, compared to 8% in the prior year.

BTCL continues to dominate the fixed-line business despite a continued reduction in the demand for fixed lines globally and locally. Trends continue to show an increased shift of consumer preference to mobile communications, a direction according to Anthony Masunga is due to his company’s “increased flexibility, convenience, and innovation.’

BTCL’s mobile phone market also continued to grow during the year, with many consumers owning multiple SIM cards from the three mobile network operators. Smega, BTC’s Mobile Money Services, saw significant growth in subscriptions during the year, and we expect to attract more customers as the Group continues the Visa card rollout.

Masunga boasted that Smega could interact with traditional banking systems, offering more convenience to BTCL customers. “The platform supports greater financial inclusion for the country’s sizeable unbanked population,” he said. BTC Board Chair Lorato Ntakhwana said that in the future, the 51 percent government-owned telecom giant will bank on its new 3-year strategy for growth paths.

She revealed that the new strategy would build on the great foundation set by its predecessor, enabling BTC to reap the full benefits of its digital infrastructure investment to drive the growth of the business.

Ntakhwana explained that the digital transformation of the business underpins the strategy to realise enhanced efficiencies and continue to maximise the utilisation of its technologies. “We remain committed to transforming BTC into a digital services company, leading the Fourth Industrial Revolution to create maximum shareholder value. We see technology and digitisation as a vehicle to the provision of solutions to the nation’s challenges,” she said.

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Business

FNBB’s profit after tax down 2%

14th September 2021
FNBB CEO - Steven Bogatsu

First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) has released its audited summarised consolidated financial statement for the year ended 30 June 2021. According to the statement, the balance sheet reduced by 6% year-on-year primarily due to declining gross advances to customers. Credit risk remained heightened amid the prevalent economic uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The bank said it continued to apply a prudent approach to lending to ensure responsible and manageable consumer exposure, which resulted in a decline in gross customer advances by 7% while gross market advances increased by 4%.

Retail advances experienced a sharp decline of 7%, while the Botswana retail market increased by 9%. According to the bank’s financial statement, the decline was driven by competitive pressures, with the market extending loan tenures, resulting in increased market debt. However, the bank maintained its existing affordability criteria and a selective approach to retail exposure.

The corporate segment experienced remarkable growth of 19% year on year. In comparison, the commercial advances portfolio reduced 19% because of a cautious lending risk appetite, a reduction in the Non-Performing Loans (NPL) and the overall lack of growth in the market.

The combined result of FNBB’s commercial and corporate advances was a decline of 7% against the overall comparable decrease of 3% in the market. While actively looking for the opportunities arising out of the anticipated recovery pattern, the bank said it would continue to be cautious in maintaining the quality of its credit book.

NPLs, according to FNBB financial declined by 11% year-on-year from P1.2 billion to P1.09 billion, resulting in a NPL/gross advances ratio of 7.3% as of 30 June 2021. FNBB stressed that reduction in NPL was primarily due to a recoverability assessment of long-outstanding NPL loans resulting in the write-off of irrecoverable loans. The closing provision levels remain appropriate.

The June 2020 deposit portfolio experienced significant growth following the reduced spending commensurate with the lockdown restrictions and deferred capital expenditure cycles by corporates. In the June 2021 results, deposits declined from P23.2bn to P21.4bn (8% decline), driven by an increase in activity following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and the normalisation of the market liquidity.

Investment securities declined by 17% year-on-year following the normalisation of market liquidity to pre COVID-19 levels. The decline was driven by the drop in short term assets at the back of the decrease in demand deposits.

FNBB indicated that it had demonstrated a resilient performance amid COVID-19 uncertainty shown by maintaining the profit before tax despite the significant reduction in the Bank Rate. This was underpinned by the normalisation of credit losses and a resilient non-interest revenue (NIR) base. Return on equity of 18.2% (2020: 20.1%) has declined due to the conservative level of capital held over the financial year, as well as the 2% reduction in profit after tax.

The past year has presented itself as a real and severe economic test, and FNBB has shown that its income streams are resilient while a critical focus has been on strengthening the balance sheet. A decrease of 15% in interest income was driven by the reduction in the Bank Rate, the decline in the advances book, and a change in the advances portfolio mix.

This was further driven by the fall in the cash and investment portfolio interest income due to the reduction in risk-free rates and lower yields across investment securities for a portion of the year. Interest expense decreased 22% following an 8% decrease in deposits and the Bank Rate reduction. The deposit mix shifted from overnight deposits to term deposits as clients sought higher yields.

Impairments declined by 43% year-on-year, driven by a 49% reduction in both Stage 1 and 2 impairments, as well as a 40% reduction in Stage 3 impairments. The stage 1 and 2 impairment decline followed a reduction in the gross advances exposure and the normalisation of impairments in June 2021.

The Stage 3 impairments decline, is attributed to a reduction in defaults over the period, with the bank has partnered with clients to help their businesses through the pandemic. The P180m reduction in impairments decreases the credit loss ratio to 1.6% (2020: 2.6%).

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Business

De Beers rough sales up

14th September 2021
rough diamonds

De Beers Group on Wednesday announced the value of rough diamond sales (Global Sightholder Sales and Auctions) for the seventh sales cycle of 2021.

Figures show continued growth in rough sales, bolstered by solid demand for polished goods in the key markets of the United States of America and China. The 2021 cycle seven rough sales clocked a provisional figure of $514 million, a slight increase from $513 million recorded in the previous cycle. The jump, however, is a significant increase when mirrored against the 2020 cycle 7 figure of $334 million.

Owing to the restrictions on the movement of people and products in various jurisdictions around the globe, De Beers Group continued to implement a more flexible approach to rough diamond sales during the seventh sales cycle of 2021, with the Sight event extended beyond its typical week-long duration.

As a result, the provisional rough diamond sales figure quoted for Cycle 7 represents the expected sales value for 23 August to 7 September. It remains subject to adjustment based on final completed sales. Commenting on the sales results Bruce Cleaver, Chief Executive Officer of De Beers Group, said sentiment in the diamond industry’s midstream continues to be positive, as reflected in the company’s sales for Sight 7.

Cleaver explained that demand for rough diamonds results from robust demand for polished diamonds in De Beers’sBeers’s key markets of the US and China. He highlighted that the midstream’s optimism for the remainder of the year was also evident at the recent JCK Las Vegas trade show, which was a success despite being held under challenging circumstances.

“As we now head towards a traditionally slower period for rough diamond sales, we remain cognisant of the risks to economic recovery from the global pandemic,” he said. De Beers impressive rough sales run is against the backdrop of performance come back in the first half of the year.

The revenue for the first six (6) months of 2021 demonstrated resilience and an impressive comeback following a devastating 2020. The more significant part of 2020, in particular, the first half of the year, was characterized by low demand across the entire diamond value chain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Countries put measures to curb the spread of the virus that broke out of China in late 2019; this came with travel restrictions that curtailed the movement of goods and people, reducing trade to record low levels. However, this year as crucial markets continue to reopen and exhibit signs of pre-covid demand levels, De Beers total revenue for the first half of 2021 increased significantly to $2.9 billion (Over P32 billion) from $1.2 billion (P13 billion), mirroring a jump of over 141%.

The growth in revenue for the first half of the year was bolstered by continued recovery in global consumer demand for diamonds, as the industry dusts itself from the impact of Covid-19, supported by fiscal stimulus in the US and the roll-out of Covid-19 vaccines. Restrictions on international travel and entertainment over the pandemic resulted in higher discretionary spending on luxury goods, including diamond jewellery.

In the first six months of 2021, the cutting centres achieved strong sales of polished diamonds in response to the ongoing recovery of consumer demand. However, the severe Covid-19 wave in India during April and May reduced capacity to cut and polish operations within the critical Indian midstream sector, further exacerbated by polished diamond grading backlogs in critical markets.

The relative shortage of polished supply contributed to a positive, polished price trend in the first half of 2021. The recovery of demand in all parts of the pipeline enabled rough diamond producers to destock at the start of 2021. This robust demand, combined with supply constraints arising from production challenges, created a favourable dynamic in the first half of 2021 that supported higher rough diamond prices.

At half-year, De Beers rough diamond sales had risen to $2.6 billion from $1.0 billion in the half-year 2020, and this was driven by robust rough diamond demand as the midstream pulled through stocks in response to the recovery in consumer demand, with rough diamond sales volumes significantly higher at 19.2 million carats from 8.5 million carats in the first six (6) months of 2020.

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