Botswana’s premier breweries investment company, Sechaba Holding Limited this week reported contracted profits gathered during the trading year ended 31st December 2017. The company operates the country’s main beverages company, Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) with a 60 % shareholding.
According to the company’s 2017 annual report released on Wednesday, KBL which is the company’s sole investment, experienced significant decline of 4.73 percent in total beverages sales during the 12 month period that ended December 2017. This contraction was driven by poor performance in the company’s major beverages categories being Traditional Alcoholic Beverages, which registered a decline of 7.6 percent; Non Alcoholic brands, which realized a 7.0 percent contraction; while Clear Beer category posted a decline of 2.7%.
Beer – that is both traditional and clear beer had a tough start to the year on the backdrop of a slow economic downturn and unfavorable weather worsened by Tropical Cyclone Dineo which hit Botswana and the region with floods during the months of February and March. This decline in beverage sales volume consequently shrunk KBL cash flow with the company registering a total of 12.2 % decline in Profits for the year as compared to the 12 month period ended 31 December 2016.
Sechaba Board Chairman, Thabo Matthews attributed the decline in the financial performance of the company to the current tough regulatory environment in which the company operates largely driven by the impact of the Alcohol Levy and Traditional Beer Regulations. “The regulatory environment continued to present very real challenges,” he noted. “The levy rate for alcohol content of 5% and less remained at 50%; and for alcohol content of above 5% is as it was at 55% for the year under review,” he said.
Matthews also underscored that changes made on the locally produced alcoholic beverages levy to include duty payable in terms of Customs and Excise Duty Act also impacted KBL business negatively. “This change had a significant impact to the financial results of the company as it was subjected to the industry mid trading year, without prior notification from regulatory authorities,” he said.
Zooming into KBL beverage performance per segment, signals are that the decline in Clear Beer sales of 2.7% was attributed to adverse performance of the Castle Lite 660ml as well as non-performance of convenience packs across all brands which posted results of 12.6% and 11% decreases respectively. Konrad Kaise, Sechaba Finance Director highlighted that the only positive recovery was posted by Carling Black Label brand with a positive result of 3.5% increase in sales compared to the year ended December 2016.
Under the Fruit Alcoholic Beverages category Sechaba reports that positive returns were gathered during the period under review. “This has been our fastest growing segment, consistently posting double-digit growth versus prior year and budget,” observed Johan De kok Group Managing Director.
De Kok noted that key performer brand was driven by Redds Vodka Lemon (RVL) which is gaining the position category captaincy. “This stellar performance placed KBL amongst the best in the region and for the first time within C17 strolling into pole position ahead of competitor brands. We intend and expect more from this category as we are still driving and gaining share in this segment of the market,” he said. The 7.6 % decline in the Traditional Alcoholic Beverages category registered as the most poorly performed segment during the period under review.
Sechaba reports that this subdued performance was further worsened by a much softer December which declined by 4% when compared with prior year. Sechaba MD noted that the pack performance of Traditional Beer category indicates that 1L and 2L packs were the hardest hit posting full year results of 10.1% and 6.6% decrease compared to the previous year. Non-alcoholic Beverages were also the hardest hit resulting in a full year negative outcome of 7.0% versus prior year.
The report indicates that returnable bottles, 300ml and 1250ml were rationed and delisted respectively exiting the year at 73.7% lower than prior year. “The cans had a very tough year as they battled being the least affordable offering with decreased volume of 15.3% when compared with prior year.” Reveals Sechaba
Sechaba Brewery Holdings Limited is an investment company listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange. Sechaba holds a 60% shareholding in its sole investment, Kgalagadi Breweries (Pty) Ltd (KBL), whilst AnheuserBusch InBev (AB InBev) holds 40%. AB InBev holds a further direct stake of 16.84% in Sechaba. AB InBev is the largest brewer in the world, with more than 500 beer brands sold in more than 150 countries and some 200,000 employees in over 50 countries, following a merger with SABMiller Plc in October, 2016.
AB InBev has management control over KBL, offering insight and experience with regard to management, technical, brand building and distribution expertise. KBL operates four traditional beer breweries, a clear beer brewery, a sparkling soft drinks production plant and four sales and distribution depots around the country. Botswana Development Corporation, wholly government owned investment entity owns 25.59 % stake in Sechaba Holdings Limited while Botswana’s largest Pension fund BPOPF holds a significant stake of over 20 % through its different asset managers.
LIQUOR ACT UNDER REVIEW
Meanwhile the beverages and breweries industry parliament this week received a motion that seeks to amend the liquor Act. The Bill was tabled by Minister of Investment, Trade & Industry Honorable Bogolo Kenewendo. The bills seeks to amend amongst others liquor trading hours ,which is one the many changes that were introduced by former President Lt Gen Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama.
The review of the liquor act is viewed by many as a brain child of Current President Mokgweetsi Masisi who observers note he is on a quest to undo many of Khama’s restrictive regulations. Reports from parliament indicate that the bill is receiving a significant backing from both opposition and ruling party law makers. The Alcohol Levy which companies in the beverages and liquor industry continue to report as a hindrance to business is also expected to be reviewed by parliament and cabinet with possibilities scraping it off or reducing it.
Botswana has recorded its first trade surplus for 2021 since the only one for the year in January.
The country’s exports for the month of July surpassed the value of imports, Statistics Botswana’s July International Merchandise Trade data reveals.
Released last Friday, the monthly trade digest reports a positive jump in the trade balance graph against the backdrop of a series of trade deficits in the preceding months since January this year.
According to the country’s significant data body, imports for the month were valued at P7.232 billion, reflecting a decline of 6.6 percent from the revised June 2021 value of P7.739 billion.
Total exports during the same month amounted to P7.605 billion, showing an increase of 6.1 percent over the revised June 2021 value of P7.170 billion.
A trade surplus of P373.2 million was recorded in July 2021. This follows a revised trade deficit of P568.7 million for June 2021.
For the total exports value of P7.605 billion, the Diamonds group accounted for 91.2 percent (P6.936 billion), followed by Machinery & Electrical Equipment and Salt & Soda Ash with 2.2 percent (P169.7 million) and 1.3 percent (P100.9 million) respectively.
Asia was the leading destination for Botswana exports, receiving 65.2 percent (P4.96 billion) of total exports during July 2021.
These exports mostly went to the UAE and India, having received 26.3 percent (P1. 99 billion) and 18.7 percent (P1.422 billion) of total exports, respectively. The top most exported commodity to the regional block was Diamonds.
Exports destined to the European Union amounted to P1.64 billion, accounting for 21.6 percent of total exports.
Belgium received almost all exports destined to the regional union, acquiring 21.5 percent (P1.6337 billion) of total exports during the reporting period.
The Diamonds group was the leading commodity group exported to the EU. The SACU region received exports valued at P790.7 million, representing 10.4 percent of total exports.
Diamonds and Salt & Soda Ash commodity groups accounted for 37.8 percent (P298.6 million) and 6.2 percent (P48.7 million) of total exports to the customs union.
South Africa received 9.8 percent (P745.0 million) of total exports during the month under review. The Diamonds group contributed 39.9 percent (P297.4 million) to all goods destined for the country.
In terms of imports, the SACU region contributed 62.7 percent (P4.534 billion) to total imports during July.
The topmost imported commodity groups from the SACU region were Fuel; Food, Beverages & Tobacco, and Machinery & Electrical Equipment with contributions of 33.3 percent (P1.510 billion), 17.4 percent (P789.4 million) and 12.7 percent (P576.7 million) to total imports from the region, respectively.
South Africa contributed 60.1 percent (P4.3497 billion) to total imports during July 2021.
Fuel accounted for 32.1 percent (P1.394 billion) of imports from that country. Food, Beverages & Tobacco contributed 17.7 percent (P772.0 million) to imports from South Africa.
Namibia contributed 2.0 percent (P141.1 million) to the overall imports during the period under review. Fuel was the main commodity imported from that country at 82.1 percent (P115.8 million).
During the months, imports representing 63.5 percent (P4.5904 billion) were transported into the country by Road.
Transportation of imports by Rail and Air accounted for 22.7 percent (P1.645 billion) and 13.8 percent (P996.2 million), respectively.
During the month, goods exported by Air amounted to P6, 999.2 million, accounting for 92.0 percent of total exports, while those leaving the country by Road were valued at P594.2 million (7.8 percent).
Founders from twenty companies have been accepted into the program from Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa
The 4th Cohort of the Stanford Seed Transformation Program – Southern Africa (STP), a collaboration between Stanford Graduate School of Business and De Beers Group commenced classes on 20 September 2021. According to Otsile Mabeo, Vice President Corporate Affairs, De Beers Global Sightholder Sales: “We are excited to confirm that 20 companies have been accepted into the 4th Seed Transformation Programme from Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. The STP is an important part of the De Beers Group Building Forever sustainability strategy and demonstrates our commitment to the ‘Partnering for Thriving Communities’ pillar that aims at enhancing enterprise development in countries where we operate in the Southern African region”. Jeffrey Prickett, Global Director of Stanford Seed: “Business owners and their key management team members undertake a 12-month intensive leadership program that includes sessions on strategy and finance, business ethics, and design thinking, all taught by world-renowned Stanford faculty and local business practitioners. The program is exclusively for business owners and teams of for-profit companies or for-profit social enterprises with annual company revenues of US$300,000 – US$15million.” The programme will be delivered fully virtually to comply with COVID 19 protocols. Out of the 20 companies, 6 are from Botswana, 1 Namibia, and 13 South Africa. Since the partnership’s inception, De Beers Group and Stanford Seed have supported 74 companies, 89 founders/CEOs, and approximately 750 senior-level managers to undertake the program in Southern Africa.
Minergy, the coal mining and trading company with the Masama coal mine, this week released results for the year ended 30 June 2021. The company achieved revenue of P193 million (2020: P81 million) with significant improvement in sales volumes surpassing 415 000 tonnes sold for the year.
The performance was divided into two distinct periods with very different operating environments. The first eight-month period (July 2020 – February 2021), was negatively impacted by delayed funding, COVID-19 impacts and excessive rain; and the last four-month period (March – June 2021), was a more stable production environment moving toward nameplate capacity.
According to Minergy CEO, Morné du Plessis, production and sales initially recovered in July and August 2020 with the easing of COVID-19 restrictions and recoveries were further bolstered by the successful launch of the rail siding. Delays experienced in concluding the funding contributed to contractors limiting operations to manage arrears.
“However, the heavy rains we experienced from December 2020 through February 2021 flooded the mine pit making access difficult and impacting both production and sales. Fortunately, the rain subsided in March 2021, and we entered a more stable environment, with a positive impact on operations. Good recoveries in production and sales were experienced during the last four-month period of the year, with the mine moving closer toward a breakeven position.”
“Despite these operational constraints, including the effects of COVID-19 on logistics and manning of shifts, we expect to reach consistent nameplate capacity in the 2022 financial year,” du Plessis added.
In addition to the revenue reported above, the company incurred costs of sales of P256 million (2020: P150 million) with operating costs of P23 million (2020: P31 million). This effectively resulted in an operating loss of P86 million (2020: P100 million). Finance costs of P51 million (2020: P17 million) were incurred, bringing the net loss before taxation to P136 million (2020: P117 million).
Du Plessis explains that the adverse conditions in the first eight-month period contributed to 86% of the gross loss, while the more stable four-month period alone contributed to 50% of total sales value, helping to decrease monthly gross losses, albeit below breakeven levels.
The company benefited from a strengthening in the South African Rand (“ZAR”) supporting higher back-on- mine sales prices.
“As announced, we’re pleased to have secured P125 million of additional convertible debt funding through the Minerals Development Company Botswana (Proprietary) Limited (“MDCB”). Minergy remains grateful for this support.”
He added that the first tranche of additional funding provided by the MDCB had been received in December 2020, which allowed Minergy to settle the majority of the contractor’s arrears and allowed their teams to be remobilised. The second and final tranche was paid post the financial year-end and will allow the business to reach nameplate capacity in the new financial year.”
COAL SALES AND MINE PERFORMANCE
Sales volumes increased by 110%, supported by increased sales in Botswana and internationally in South Africa and Namibia. Sales for June 2021 exceeded 56 000 tonnes, a record since the inception of the mine, with pricing increasing late in the financial year on the back of buoyant international prices and a strengthening ZAR.
Minergy also concluded a further 12-month off-take agreement to the existing off-take agreement, with a further agreement finalised post year end.
Overburden moved during the reporting period increased by 86% and extracted coal by 50%. Coal mined in June 2021 alone exceeded 100 000 tonnes. “This is a good performance considering the challenges faced such as sacrificing pre-stripping activities for a period to manage arrears, excessive rain and COVID-19,” du Plessis indicated.
“The wash plant was initially starved of coal due to the factors noted already. Despite this, overall plant throughput performance was 37% higher than 2020. Consistent output was supported by the completion of the Stage 2 rigid crushing section as well as the water saving dewatering screen with filter press contributing to a reduction in water usage of 60% per tonne of coal. A record throughput of more than 84 000 tonnes was achieved in March 2021 and this consistency has been maintained.”
According to du Plessis, the completion of Stage 4 of the Processing Plant, the rigid screening and stock handling section, remains a key optimisation step, which has associated benefits. “The completion was unfortunately delayed by a southern African wide shortage of structural steel but was commissioned post year-end.”
Minergy expects the positive momentum in international coal pricing for southern African coal to remain in place. Higher coal prices have resulted in coal being withdrawn from the inland market in favour of lucrative international markets. Du Plessis added that the regional market is currently under- supplied with sized coal, which supports higher pricing and new customer opportunities for Minergy.
“Our objective for the 2022 financial year is to achieve nameplate capacity by completing final ramp-up of operations. This will enable the company to generate sufficient cash flow to stabilise the business at breakeven or better. The bullish coal market is also providing support. COVID-19 will still be closely managed, and we look forward to the lifting of the State of Emergency, as announced, and trust that vaccination programmes will achieve herd immunity in Botswana during the next 12 months.”
Du Plessis expressed his excitement on prospects stating that, “The Eskom due diligence process is continuing, and we are hopeful of receiving feedback during the current financial year. In addition to this opportunity, Minergy is also investigating participation in the request by the Government of Botswana to provide a 300MW power station for which the company has been shortlisted.”
The approved process to issue shares for cash is showing positive leads and he concluded by saying that a listing in London is still being investigated.