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Cresta profits decline by 30 percent

Traditional hospitality giant Cresta Marakanelo Group which operates hotels and lodges in Botswana & Zambia continues to be negatively affected by the increasing hospitality industry competition.

 As signaled by the Group at half year ended June 2017 results presentation, the chain hotel outfit collectively registered shrunk profits for the complete 2017 trading year ended December last year. According to the annual report released last week the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) listed hotels Group performance was subdued, with depressed overall financial performance compared to the prior year.

The prior year also recorded lapses in governance processes within the Group, which resulted in a restructuring of the leadership and a complete review of the internal control system, which was completed in 2017. Cresta Marakanelo Limited Chairman of Board of Directors Moatlhodi Lekaukau explains that the overall decline in profitability was by in large attributed to increased competition in the markets the Group operates in, coupled with significant reduction in Government spending.

Cresta has been predominantly a household name in the hospitality and related industries such as conferencing for several years; however of recent the Botswana market which is Cresta’s main operating space has been receiving new entrants who bring to the game exciting and diversified products, amongst other elite’s hospitality outfits internationally reputable market nectarines.

This has in turn taken the competition to Crestar’s door step. The Group also takes blows from reduced government spending from time to time. Government business especially civil servant’s official trips hospitality contributes significantly to Cresta’s bed occupancy. During the year under review the company recorded an overall profit before tax of P26.2 million mirroring a 29 percent decline from the result recorded for the previous year.

 The Group recorded a marginal 1 percent increase in revenue to P 337 million. Total overheads decreased marginally, despite the inclusion of the costs related to the new hotel in Maun for the second half of the year.  Lekaukau notes that the reduction was as a result of cost rationalization measures across the Group.

Despite shrunk profits as compared to the previous year, Cresta’s total assets for the year under review climbed by 2 percent, while equity increased by 4 percent compared to the same period last year.  According to Lekaukau the Group continued to be cash generative despite downward trajectory on profitability, a total 6% increase in net cash generated from operating activities compared to the year ended December 2016.

Net cash generated from operating activities was P65.3 million compared to P61.8 million in 2016.  “The Group has a robust and stable base, with cash resources of P65.3 million more that the P61.8 million in 2016, this is satisfactory going forward, the cash will be utilized to fund the payment of dividends to shareholders, refurbishments and expansion activities,”  explained Lekaukau.

The group’s operating profit decline of 26 percent comes about from P33 million raked in during the 2017 trading year compared to P44.9 million in 2016. Earnings per share also registered a decline of 29 percent from 20.32 thebe in 2016 to 14.47 thebe in 2017, while the total dividend of 14 thebe per share for the 2017 financial year represents an 8 percent growth on the prior year.

The dividend yield for 2017 of 13 percent compares favourably to the average dividend yield of approximately 5.5% for counters listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange. At year end, the Group had negligible debt amounting to P8.4 million, a significant reduction from the over 12 million debt registered at the end of 2016.

Cresta Marakanelo Managing Director Mokwena Morulane notes that his company‘s declined performance is attributable to sluggish economy and contracted expansion opportunities due competition brought about by new entrant in the market. He however submits that Cresta Marakanelo Group is able to generate cash flows from operations of approximately P65 million per year.

 “The Group is adequately positioned for ongoing operations and macro-economic shocks that may occur, we have debt carrying capacity and we are also able to take advantage of significant expansion opportunities,” he said. Amongst the two operation markets for Cresta, Botswana operations were significantly affected by the increased competition. According to the report Botswana’s overall occupancy declined from 63 percent in 2016 to 57 percent in 2017, also weighed down by the low occupancies of the new Cresta Maun Hotel, which opened in May 2017.

Three of the 11 Cresta hotels in Botswana incurred losses for the year as a result of flat revenue growth in a competitive environment. However on the Zambian Market the group performed satisfactorily with the division raking in operating profit of P987 million for the year, compared to a loss of P57 million in the previous year.  “This was achieved in spite of the subdued business environment in Lusaka during the first half of 2017” observes Morulane.

 The Cresta MD notes that cost optimization for the Zambian operations beard fruits as division’s revenue increased by 2 percent in Kwacha compared to the prior year, with the overall increase in profitability. To emerge from the declined profitability and remain the leading hotel Group predominantly in Botswana Cresta Marakanelo commenced the implementation of its new strategic plan aimed at repositioning the group and revamping its performance.

The strategic plan will run for the five year period from 2018 to 2022. The five main pillars of the Strategic Plan covers the broad areas of human resources and capacity building; growth; information communication and technology; marketing; and cost optimization. “We are working on initiatives to drive down costs without compromising the quality of product offering at the hotels, while also improving the value proposition,” explained the Group MD. 

The Group has embarked on significant refurbishment projects of properties in 2018 with over P40 million earmarked to be spent on three properties this year.  “This drive for product refreshing and improvement will continue into 2019, and we expect improved occupancies across all our properties,” observed Group Chairman. Lekaukau also notes that Cresta Marakanelo continues to explore regional growth opportunities in order to diversify its portfolio and further unlock shareholder value.

Managing Director Mokwena Morulane says the growth prospects of the Global Travel and Tourism industry as well as possible policy review by different stakeholders on the part of local industry sparks growth forecasts for the sector and ultimately profitability for the Cresta Grou.  “The renewal and turnaround at Cresta Hotels will be premised on a solid platform of enhanced customer experience and strong commercial delivery. We are therefore on track to transform the Group into a stronger commercial and financially sustainable company whose central focus is the guest,” he said.

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The  Bulb World CEO selected for Africa’s prestigious award

22nd July 2021

The Bulb World Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and entrepreneur, Ketshephaone Jacob has been selected as a 2021 Top 50 Africa’s Business Hero.

Jacob was chosen from a pool of 12,000 applicants – many of whom are highly-skilled and accomplished entrepreneurs.

Africa’s Business Hero, sponsored by technology entrepreneur, Jack Ma, aims to identify, support and inspire the next generation of African entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their local communities, working to solve the most pressing problems, and building a more sustainable and inclusive economy for the future.

The initiative is as inclusive as possible and applications were open in English and French to entrepreneurs from all African countries, all sectors, and all ages who operate businesses formally registered and headquartered in an African country, and that have a 3 year-track record.

Every year, finalists are selected to compete in the ABH finale pitch competition and participate in a TV Show that will be broadcast online and across the continent.

The finalists will compete for a share of US $1.5 million in grant money.

The Bulb World, is home grown LED light manufacturing company, which was partly funded by Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) at the tune of P4 million, to manufacture LED lighting bulbs for both commercial and residential use in 2017.

The Bulb World operate from the Special Economic Zone of Selibe Phikwe. Early this year, The BulB World announced its expansion to South Africa, setting in motion its ambitious Africa expansion plan.

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Mining production down 12 % IN Q1 2021

14th July 2021

During the first quarter of 2021, production in Botswana’s economic nucleus- the mining sector contracted by 12 percent. This is according to Mining Production Index released by Statistics Botswana this week.

The country’s central data body revealed that Index of Mining production stood at 74.4 during the first quarter of 2021, showing a negative year on-year growth of 12.0 percent, from 84.6 registered during the first quarter of 2020.

The main contributor to the decline in mining production came from the Diamonds sector, which contributed negative 11.7 percentage points. Soda Ash was the only positive contributor in the mining production, contributing 0.1 of a percentage point. However Soda Ash’s contribution was insignificant to offset the negative contribution made by Diamonds.

The quarter-on-quarter analysis by Statistics Botswana experts shows an increase of 16.3 percent from the index of 64.0 during the fourth quarter of 2020 to 74.4 observed during the period under review.

Diamond production decreased by 12.1 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year. The decrease was as a result of planned strategy to align production with weaker trading conditions mostly linked to Covid-19 protocols restrictions.

Botswana’s diamond sector is underpinned by Debswana, the country’s flagship rough producer- a 50-50 joint venture between government and global mining giant De Beers Group. The other producer is Canadian based Lucara Diamond Corp through its wholly owned Karowe Mine which is a relatively small but significant production that has made a name for itself worldwide with rare diamond recoveries of unprecedented carat size.

On the other hand, quarter-on quarter analysis shows that production has improved, registering a positive growth of 17.5 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the preceding quarter – 2020 Q4.

Though production was significantly lower in the first quarter, the two producers ended Q2 with rare diamond recoveries. Debswana early last month found the world’s third largest gem diamond – weighing 1098 carat at Jwaneng Mine, its flagship gem quality diamonds producer, also regarded the world’s richest diamond mine.

A week later Lucara  announced its second biggest recovery, the 1174 carat clivage near-gem dug from its Karowe Mine. The diamond is the world third in carat size after the plus-3000 carat Cullinan found in South Africa back in 1905 and the 1758 carat Sewelo unearthed at its Karowe mine in 2019. Debswana and Lucara are investing billions of pulas in underground mining projects to extend the life of its mines, Jwaneng & Karowe respectively.

In terms of Gold which is produced at Mupani mine near Botswana’s second city of Francistown output decreased by 17.9 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year.

Similarly, quarter-on-quarter analysis reflects that production decreased by 21.4 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the preceding quarter. The decrease was as a result of the deteriorating lifespan of the mine as well as the impact of COVID-19 which slowed down the mining activities.

Soda Ash production increased by 11.1 percent during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter of the previous year. In terms of quarter-on-quarter Soda Ash production also showed an increase, picking up by 2.1 percent during the period under review. The increase in production is attributable to the effectiveness of the plant following refurbishment which occurred in the third quarter of 2020.

Salt production decreased by 34.0 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same quarter of the previous year. Similarly, the quarter-on-quarter analysis shows that salt production registered a decrease of 32.9 percent during the period under review. Both salt and Sodash are produced by partly government owned Botswana Ash (BotsAsh) operating from Sowa town near Makgadikgadi pans.

Coal production decreased by 11.2 percent during the first quarter of 2021, compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year. The decrease was attributed to the reduced demand from Morupule B Power Station following the remedial works being undertaken, as one boiler was in operation during the period under review.

Although production fell, Statistics Botswana says there was no shortfall in supply of coal due to stockpiling. On the other hand, the quarter-on-quarter comparison shows that coal production increased by 20.4 percent compared to the preceding quarter.

Botswana’s flagship coal producer is Morupule Coal Mine; a wholly state owned mining company located in Palapye producing primarily for Botswana Power Corporation (BPC)’s power generation plants Morupule A & B.

The other coal producer is Botswana Stock Exchange listed Minergy which operates a 390 MT Coal Resource mine in Masama near Media in the southwestern edge of the Mmamabula Coalfields.

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Gov’t awards mining licence for Gantsi Copper Mine

14th July 2021
Moagi

Department of Mines in the Ministry of Mineral Resources, Green Technology & Energy Security has awarded mining licence to Tshukudu Metals-a subsidiary of Aussie firm Sandfire Resources ,giving the company a green light to start piecing the ground at its Motheo Copper Project near Gantsi.

Lefoko Moagi, minister in charge of mineral resources in Botswana confirmed to weekendpost on Tuesday. Minister Moagi revealed that “the licence has been approved , but Sandfire Resources as a listed company will report to its shareholders and investors then make an official public statement” he said.

Based on a forecast copper price of US$3.16/lb (reflecting current long-term consensus pricing) the Base Case 3.2Mtpa – Ghantsi copper project is forecast to generate US$664 million (over P7 billion) in pre-tax free cash-flow and US$987 million (over P10 billion) in EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation), at a forecast all-in sustaining cost of US$1.76/lb over its first 10 years of operations.

In December 2020, the Board of Sandfire Resources approved the commercial development of the Motheo Copper Mine located in the Kalahari Copper Belt in Botswana, marking a key step in its transformation into a global, diversified, and sustainable mining company.

Tshukudu Metals Botswana (Pty) Limited (Tshukudu) a 100% owned subsidiary will be the owner and operator of the Motheo Copper Mine which is scheduled to produce up to 30,000 tonnes per annum of copper in concentrate over a 12 year mine life.TMB is targeting development of its Motheo Copper Mine in 2021 and 2022, with its first production in 2023.

GOVERNMENT NOT TAKING UP 15 % STAKE ON OFFER

Beginning of this year presentations were made to the Department of Mines as part of the Mining Licence approval process and to the Ghanzi Regional Council, additional information was requested by Department of Mines in April and was duly supplied by the company.

As part of the Mining Licence approval process, the Government of Botswana has a right to acquire up to a 15% fully contributing interest in all mining projects locally. Quizzed on whether government through Mineral Development Corporation Botswana (MDCB) would be taking up stake in the project Minister Moagi said, “No consideration is being made on that regard”.

“Government is not considering taking up a stake in the Ghantsi Copper Mine project, every opportunity is assessed on all risks, but Government makes money all the while from leases, taxes and royalties, remember if you take stake you are liable for liabilities of the project as well,” Moagi said.

MINING CONTRACT

Last month Sandfire announced that it has awarded over P5 billion worth mining contract to African Mining Services (AMS), a subsidiary of Perenti, to deliver the open cast operation.

The contract, which has an estimated value of US$496 million (over 5 billion), is the largest single operational contract for the new Motheo Project covering a period of 7 years and 3 months, with provision for a one-year extension.

The contract according to Sandfire Resources was awarded following a competitive 3-stage tender process which saw a number of key factors taken into consideration when selecting the preferred contractor.

These included Citizen Economic Empowerment, safety culture, equipment suitability and availability, commercial terms and identified improvement opportunities. Under the terms of the contract, AMS has agreed to form a 70:30 Joint Venture with a suitable local Botswana partner or partners.

The JV is expected to be finalized ahead of commencement of mining in early 2022. African Mining Services has been operating in Africa for over 30 years. AMS’ parent company, ASX listed diversified mining services group Perenti, already has a presence in Botswana through Barminco, their underground mining division, at the large-scale Khoemacau Copper Mine located 200km north-east of Motheo.

Last month Sandfire executives said the award of the open pit mining contract represents another key milestone in advancing the Motheo Project towards production, with all components of the contract in line with the key parameters outlined in the December 2020 Definitive Feasibility Study (DFS).

The company said full-scale construction of the US$279 million (over P 3 billion ) mine development is expected to commence immediately upon receipt of the Mining Licence, with mining scheduled to commence in early 2022 ahead of first production in early 2023. This week Sandfire Resources advertised over 10 positions in calling on applications from geologists, mining engineers and geotechnical engineers.

The Motheo mine has an initial mine life of 12.5 years based on production from the T3 pit. The initial development is expected to generate approximately 1,000 jobs during the construction phase and 600 direct full-time jobs during operations, with at least 95% of the total mine workforce expected to be made of up of Botswana citizens.

Later in the week Sandfire Resources announced in the company website that it has received the licence. Sandfire’s Managing Director and CEO, Mr Karl Simich, said the award of the Mining Licence represented a major milestone that would see a significant increase in construction and development activities on site.

“We are absolutely delighted to now be in a position to move to full-scale construction at Motheo, with our construction crews expected to mobilise to site over the next few days. I would like to thank the Government of Botswana for their support throughout the approvals process, which will see Motheo come on-stream in 2023 as one of very few new copper mines commencing production globally.”

Simich said the project is expected to generate approximately 1,000 jobs during construction and 600 full-time jobs during operations, and represents the foundation for Sandfire’s long-term growth plans in Botswana.

“Our vision is that Motheo will form the centre of a new, long-life copper production hub in in the central portion of the world-class Kalahari Copper Belt, where we hold an extensive ground-holding spanning Botswana and Namibia,” he said.

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