Botswana Insurance Holding Limited (BIHL), an investment group with interests in leading insurance and finance business across Africa continues to increases its market share and retain profitability amid increasing competition from new entrants and evolving regulatory and trading environments.
When delivering a review on the lapsing 5 year strategy which commenced in 2013 BIHL Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Catherine Lesetedi-Letegele noted that the strategy delivered sustainability and continued profitability for the group with increasing market share. Letegele shared these at the BIHL 2018 interim results announcement in Gaborone this Tuesday.
The BIHL chief explained that since the commencement of the “The Tomagano” five-year strategy the company has been able to protect its leading status and position in all its businesses, penetrated new markets as well as introduced new segments. “When growing our businesses we did so closely monitoring profitability and risks in new investments, we did not just aim at increasing our market share without protecting profitability and sustainability,” she said.
She highlighted that in the past five years the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed BIHL acquired 25 percent stake in Nico Holdings based in Malawi, 50 percent stake in Botswana Insurance Company as well as increased share stake in Pan African outfits Letshego Holdings and Funeral Services Group. She also noted that BIHL disposed some assets that were no longer serving the interests of BIHL‘s strategic expansion targets.
Stakeholders were informed that BIHL increased efficiencies in group operations through establishment of a program office, group business development office, HR and IT administration and monitoring bases. “These business suits have delivered and continue to deliver efficiencies within the group, we also introduced new technologies across the group to harness synergies in ensuring that we run a well managed business and create a pull of individuals that are not just specialists but also generalists,” she said
Letegele also echoed that BIHL has within the five year strategy entered into collaborations with strategic corporate entities in the interest of the company and its workforce. “We have signed agreements with the likes of Baisago University, sent our people to Gordon Institutes of Business Science, collaborated with Sanlam and Stellenbosch University amongst others, all of this has been done under clear management processes. We recognized that BIHL does not exist in a vacuum as a corporate citizen, we believe we have executed well on the strategy,” explained Letegele.
She revealed that a new strategy will be launched in March next year. Since 2008 Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited has realized a growth in embedded , raking in 5 billion in profits before tax since to date , paid 2.7 billion pula dividends and paid just under 800 million pula tax to Botswana government. Speaking to the half year results for the six month period ended June 2018, BIHL CEO explained that the Group continues to lead profitable operations amid trading challenges.
“In our view as management we believe we gathered resilient set of results supported by growth in revenue, growth in value of new businesses, growth in operating profits, growth in group embedded value amongst others,” she said. Letegele explained that overall expenses have been well maintained to output flat growth. “This is our dedication to ensure that we are managing cost by spending money on areas that we believe are investment geared rather than on consumption operations,” she stated.
Letegele contend that BIHL raked in an impressive 54 percent increase in premium income, because of new products, strategic partnerships, and schemes adding that the group administration system implemented during the half year under review also contributed to Group’s impressive overall performance. Letegele explained that return on group embedded value grew from 8.3 percent to 17.6 percent attributable to increased value of new business which expanded by 14 percent as well as the fact that the company didn’t incur any impairment.
On segment and subsidiary performance, Letegele revealed that the Life insurance business which is headlined by BIHL largest subsidiary, Botswana Life gathered and increase in Net Premium Income for the first half of 2018 with increase from P1.1 billion in six month ended June 2017 to P1.15 billion during period under review. Still under Life Insurance Business total New Business written grew by 7 percent underpinned by strong single premium income performance.
Recurring premium income grew by an impressive 9 percent from P605 million in June 2017 to P659 million in June 2018. “This line represents a sustainable source of profits in the long term at group level,” she said. The value of new business, which represents the present value of future profits from new business premiums written during the period, increased by 14 percent from prior year on the back of impressive new business volumes from the group lines and term assurance policies.
Operating profit grew 15 percent on prior year mainly because of good new business volumes from the group line, low new business strain and cost savings from the streamlining exercise carried out second half of last year. Operating profit increased from P142 million in June 2017 to P164 million in June 2018.
Under the Botswana Insurance Fund Management (BFIM) Letegele shared that despite the challenges of mixed economic performance reflecting both international economic uncertainty as well as domestic challenges BIHL’s asset management outfit managed to retain mandates and existing clients. However BIFM group’s overall operating profit in the 2018 first half showed a decline of 8 percent year on year.
BIHL explained that this is due to direct result of Zambia operations not performing as expected because of unrealized activities that were anticipated to take place in the year 2018. “Despite the current difficult trading conditions, where we have witnessed several new entrants into the market and pension funds adopting new strategies of splitting mandates, BIFM has continued to show resilience and continued to gain market confidence and maintain its position as a leading Asset Management Company,” explained Letegele.
Total Assets under management including Zambia’s P4.7 billion stands at P26 billion. Regarding the Short term insurance business, Letegele explained that the segment continued to face pressure on the top line resulting in an 8 percent decline in income compared to prior year. Despite the top line pressures, Legal Guard has achieved an operating profit of P1.8 million to June 2018 up from a P0.9 million loss for the same period last year.
“With the introduction of a new core operating system last year, the business has been able to provide an enhanced platform for claims administration which has resulted in turn in a decline in claims costs,” she said. Botswana Insurance Holding Limited Board Chairperson, Dambe Groth said BIHL Group remains well positioned in terms of capital management and solvency.
She explained that the board has confidence in the Group’s ability to maintain dividends at this level while ensuring that its capital position remains solid and aligned with future capital requirements across the Group, at sustained levels of Return on Group Equity Value. The Group’s embedded value increased to P4.37 billion as compared to the P4.31 billion in the half year ended June 2017. The embedded value allows for P288 million dividends paid during the period
Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) moved swiftly this week to suspend BBS Limited from trading its securities following a brawl between Board of Directors and Managing Director, Pius Molefe, which led to corporate governance crisis at the organisation.
In an interesting series of events that unfolded this week, incumbent board Chairperson, Pelani Siwawa-Ndai moved to expel Molefe together with board Secretary, Sipho Showa, who also doubles up as Head of Marketing and Communications. It is reported that Siwawa-Ndai in her capacity as the board Chairperson wrote letters of dismissals to Molefe and Showa.
Following receipt of letters, the duo sought and was furnished with legal opinion from Armstrong Attorneys advising them that their dismissals were unlawful hence they were told to continue to report to work and carry out their duties.
Documents seen by BusinessPost articulate that in the meeting which was held on the 1st of April, the five outgoing board members, unlawfully took resolutions to extend their contracts by a further 90 days after April 30 2021 as they face tough competition from five other candidates who had expressed interest to run for the elections.
Moreover, at the said meeting, management explained that neither management nor the board have the authority to decline nominations submitted by shareholders or the interested parties which is in line with Companies Act and also BBS Limited constitution.
Molefe also revealed that as management they cautioned the board that it was conflicted and it would be improper for it to influence the election process as it seems they intended to do so. “Nonetheless, in a totally unprecedented move in the history of BBSL, the board then collectively passed the unlawful resolutions below. Leading to the illegitimate decisions, the board had brazenly directed that its discussions on the Board elections should not be recorded totally violating sound corporate governance,” reads the statement released by management this week.
When giving their legal advice, Armstrong Attorneys noted that notice for the AGM should state individuals proposed to be elected to the board and directors have no legal authority to prevent the process.
Armstrong Attorneys also noted that, “due process” cited by board members are simply to ensure that the five retiring Directors avoid competition from interested candidates to be appointed to the BBS Limited board. The law firm further opined that the resolution of the 90 day extension of term of the five directors pending re-election or election was unlawful.
Molefe expressed with regret that BBS has been suspended from trading by BSE until the current matter has been resolved. “I am concerned by this development and other potentially harmful actions on the business. As management, we are engaging with stakeholders to mitigate any negative impact on BBS Limited,” expressed a distressed Molefe.
He assured shareholders and the rest of Management that they are working very hard to ensure that the issues are being dealt with in a mature manner. BBS which hopes to become the first indigenous commercial bank has seen its shares halted barely four months after BSE lifted the trading suspension of shares for BBS following submission of their published 2019 audited financial statements.
According to Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the local bourse, Thapelo Tsheole said the halting of shares of BBSL is to maintain fair, efficient and orderly securities trading environment. “The securities have been suspended to allow BBS to provide clarity to the market concerning the recent allegations which have been brought to the attention of the BSE relating to the company’s Board of Directors and senior management,” said Tsheole.
Meanwhile in their audited financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2020, BBS recorded a loss of P14.6 million as at 31 December 2020 compared to the loss of P35.7 million for the comparative year ended 31 December 2019. According to Molefe the year under review was the most challenging for the bank, its shareholders and customers endured the difficult economic environment and the negative impact of the coronavirus.
He revealed that as the bank, they were forced to put in place several measures to ensure that the business withstands the impact of coronavirus and also to cushion mortgage customers from the effects of the pandemic. “Since April 2020 up to the end of December 2020, BBS assisted 555 mortgage customers with a payment holiday,’’ he said.
This is the bank whose total balance sheet declined by 12 percent from P4, 626 billion for the year ended. 31 December 2019 to P4, 088 billion as at 31 December 2020. As if things were not bad enough, total savings and deposits at the bank declined by 14 percent from a balance of P2, 885 billion as at 31 December 2019 to P2, 494 billion as at 31 December 2020.
On a much brighter side, BBSL mortgage loans and advances improved from P3, 401 billion to P3.408 billion with impairment allowance significantly improving to P78, 648 million from P102, 532 million for the year under review, representing a positive variance of 23 percent. BBS maintained a strong capital base with capital adequacy ratios of 26.32% for the year ended 31 December 2020.
Molefe was optimistic and anticipated a positive outcome during the implementation of the new BBS corporate strategy, whose main drive is commercialization of operations, which is in full force. “It will be spurred on by the positive results we have achieved for the year ended 31 December 2020, and our planned submission of our banking license application to Bank of Botswana which we anticipate to operate as a commercial bank in the third quarter of 2021,” he alluded.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Premium Nickel Resources Botswana (PNRB), Montwedi Mphathi, has said his company will resuscitate the formerly owned BCL assets and deliver a new, sustainable and cutting edge mining operation.
The new mine which will leverage on modern and next generation technology, will be environmentally sensitive and cognisant of the needs of its people and that of the communities around the area of influence.
In a statement last week, Premium Nickel Resources Botswana and its parent company, the Canadian headquartered Premium Nickel Resources announced that they have now completed the Exclusivity Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Liquidator.
The MOU will govern a six-month exclusivity period to complete its due diligence and related purchase agreements on the Botswana nickel-copper-cobalt (Ni-Cu-Co) assets formerly operated by BCL Limited (BCL), that are currently in liquidation.
On February 10, 2021, Lefoko Moagi, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security of Botswana, affirmed in Parliament a press release by the Liquidator for the BCL Group of Companies, stating that PNR was selected as the preferred bidder to acquire assets formerly owned by BCL.
“This is encouraging for the company and for Botswana. Our ambition in this new project dubbed “Tsholofelo” is to redevelop the former BCL assets into a modern, environmentally sensitive, efficient NI-Cu-Co-water producer where sustainability and the people are at the forefront of the decisions we make,” said Mphathi in a statement last Thursday.
“We also understand that no matter how successful we are at building the “New BCL” , our success will only be measured at our ability to create local wealth , skills and support the continued transition of local economy to a longer term sustainable base.”
The next step during the exclusivity period will be the completion of the definitive agreement. Simultaneous to this the PNRB will be conducting additional investigative work on site to further its understanding of the potential of these assets.
Specifically the company will complete an environmental assessment, a metallurgical study, a review of legal and social responsibilities, a review of the mine closure and rehabilitation plans and an on-site inspection of the legacy mining infrastructure and equipment that has been under care and maintenance.
Mphathi said they continue to monitor the global Covid-19 developments noting that they are committed to working with health and safety authorities as a priority and in full respect of all government and local Covid-19 protocol requirements. PNRB has developed Covid-19 travel, living and working protocols in anticipation of moving forward to on site due diligence.
“We will integrate these protocols with the currently applicable protocols of Ministry of Health & Wellness as well as District Health Management Team ( DHMT) and surrounding communities,” reads a statement released by the Gaborone based Premium Nickel Resources team.
PNRB is looking to become a catalyst in participating and building a strong economy for Botswana, with a purpose where respect and trust are core to every single step that will be taken. “Our success will mean following international best-in-class practices for the protection of Botswana’s environment and the focus on its people, building partnerships and earning respect, through cooperation and collaboration,” explains PNRB on its website.
“We are committed to Governance through transparent accountability and open communication within our team and with all our stakeholders.” Mphathi, a former BCL Executive, is widely celebrated for achieving unprecedented profitability at the mine during his tenure as General Manager.
The Serowe-born mining guru obtained a Diploma in Mining Technology from Haileybury School of Mines in Canada. He later obtained a B.Eng. Mining degree from the Technical University of Nova Scotia. Mphathi went on to City University in London, UK and obtained a M.Sc. in Industrial and Administrative Sciences.
Before ascending to the top country managerial role of Premium Nickel Resources. Mphathi was General Manager of Botswana Ash (Botash), Southern Africa’s leading salt and soda ash producer. He was at some point linked to Debswana top post, which is still to date not substantively filled following the death of Managing Director, Albert Milton, in August 2019.
With Mphathi out of the race and now leading the rebuilding of his former employer, the top post at De Beers- Botswana joint venture is likely to be filled by current acting Managing Director Lynette Armstrong, a seasoned finance executive with unparalleled experience in the extractive industry.
“We are happy to hear that former General Manager of BCL, Mr Montwedi Mphathi, has a relationship with the new Company that intends to resuscitate the mine, he is an experienced Mining Executive who knows BCL better, we want the mine to be brought back to life so that our people can be employed ” said Dithapelo Keorapetse Member of Parliament for Selibe Phikwe West recently in Parliament.
BCL was liquidated in October 2016 following a series of losses and government bailout occasioned by low Copper prices and allegedly poor Investment decisions and maladministration. Recently PNR CEO, Keith Morrison said his team of seasoned experts both from Canada and Botswana are committed to resuscitate the BCL assets and deliver a high performance mining operation.
“The World, Botswana and the mining industry have changed dramatically since mining first started at the former BCL assets in the early 1970s. The nickel-copper-cobalt resources remaining at these mines are now critical metals, required for the continued development of a decarbonized and electrified global economy,” he said.
Morrison added: “As we move forward, it is our goal to demonstrate the potential economics of re-developing a combination of the former BCL assets to produce Ni-Cu-Co and water in a manner that is inclusive of modern environmental, social and corporate governance responsibilities.”
He explained that to attain this, extensive upgrades to infrastructure will be required with an emphasis on safety, sustainability and the application of new technologies to minimize the environmental impact and total carbon footprint for the new operations.
“Our team remains committed to working with the local communities and all of the stakeholders throughout this period and we encourage anyone with questions or feedback to reach out to us directly,” he noted.
Lucara Diamond Corporation, the Canadian 100% owners of iconic Karowe mine, this week announced the extension of its supply deal with Belgian diamond midstream giant HB Antwerp.
The definitive supply agreement is in respect of all diamonds produced in excess. of 10.8 carats in size from its rare gem producing Karowe diamond mine located in the Boteti district of Botswana. Large, high value diamonds in excess of 10.8 carats in size account for approximately 70% of Lucara’s annual revenue.
Though the Karowe mine has remained fully operational throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Lucara made a deliberate decision not to tender any of its +10.8 carat inventory after early March 2020 amidst the uncertainty caused by the global crisis.
Under the terms of this novel supply agreement with HB, extended to December 2022, the purchase price paid for each +10.8 carat rough diamond is based on the estimated polished outcome, determined through state of the art scanning and planning technology, with a true up paid on actual achieved polished sales thereafter, less a fee and the cost of manufacturing.
“Lucara is beginning to see the benefits of this strategy in accessing a broader marketplace and delivering regular cash flow based on final polished sales,” said Lucara CEO, Eira Thomas on Wednesday.
“We believe these early results warrant an extension of the arrangement for at least 24 months to determine if superior pricing and market stability for our large, high-value diamonds can be sustained longer term.”
The Canadian junior miner initiated a supply agreement with HB for large stones from its Botswana Karowe mine in July 2020, after pausing its tenders shortly after the Covid-19 pandemic began. The deal enables Lucara to sell the rough diamonds to HB at a price based on an estimate of the polished outcome, which the companies determine using diamond scanning and planning technology. Once HB sells the goods, it adjusts the price that Lucara receives based on the actual selling price of the polished, minus a fee and manufacturing costs.
The extended supply deal will follow the same payment terms as the initial agreement, and will be in effect through to December 2022. Lucara said in a statement this week that the agreement also provides increased tax revenue and beneficiation opportunities for the government of Botswana, and creates a streamlined supply chain for Karowe’s rough.
“More than a supply agreement, this collaboration structurally embeds a new transparent and sustainable way of working in the diamond-value chain,” said HB CEO, Oded Mansori. “For the first time, different partners of the value chain are fully aligned, sharing data and information throughout the process from mine to consumer.”
Mansori added: “We are truly proud with this innovative and straightforward collaboration that has proven itself through the volatile and uncertain reality of 2020. We are confident to achieve even better results during the term of this new contract and demonstrate the power of a true partnership.”
Lucara, which early this year secured extension of Karowe mining license to 2040, announced over P2.4 billion funding for Karowe underground mining expansion project a fortnight ago. The Vancouver headquartered top large diamond producer says this supply agreement deal extension with HB will bring about regular cash flow for Lucara using polished pricing mechanism. Furthermore, the company says the deal has potential revenue upside, particularly suited for Lucara’s large, exceptional diamonds.
In the main, Botswana will benefit increased tax revenue and additional beneficiation opportunities for the Government and communities around Karowe mine. A streamlined supply chain that achieves alignment between Lucara and HB to maximize the value of each +10.8 carat diamond produced at Karowe.