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BSE narrows losses

The Botswana Stock Exchange appears to be making a recovery from the previous year’s slump that resulted in major equities losing value. The Domestic Company Index (DCI), which tracks the performance of local listed companies, ended the first quarter of the year weaker but better than the corresponding quarter in 2016.

The DCI started the year with 9389.34 points but has since lost 164.12 points in the last 3 months to close the first quarter at 9225.22 points. This means the DCI has declined by 1.68 percent, however, this compares favourably with 2016’s first quarter decline which stood at 3.8 percent. The narrowed loss in the first quarter of the year points to a slow recovery for the BSE’s DCI that declined by 11.3 percent in 2016. Moreover, the improvement in the first quarter of the year has brought down losses in the past 12 months to 9.54 percent.

The downward pressures exerted by certain sectors on the DCI in the previous year have spilled over to this quarter as the same sectors continue to affect the overall performance of the local bourse. In its 2016 market performance report, the BSE said the DCI’s decline of 11.3 percent in 2016 was attributable to the negative performance of the Retail & Wholesaling and the Banking sectors as well as the Financial Services & Insurance and the Information & Communications Technology (ICT) sectors.

During the first quarter of the year, the DCI’s losses were led by three retail titans from the influential Wholesaling and Retail sector. Leading the losses was Sechaba, the local brewing giant, which lost 22.2 percent in the quarter under review. The blue chip stock ended the quarter to trade at P21, a decline of 30 percent from its all time high price of P30. This has extended the stock’s decline to 26.3 percent in the past 12 months. Further complicating the matter for the brewer is the tough trading conditions it finds itself operating under. The group has warned shareholders to expect lower profits.

Sefalana, another key player in the Wholesaling and Retail sector, closed off the first quarter 17.7 percent under to trade at P10.70. This stock price is now 23.6 percent off its 12 month high price of P14. Sefalana’s stock has been on a steady decline since late last year, bringing its total losses in the past 12 months to 20.6 percent. The embattled furniture and consumer goods retailer, Furnmart, continues to struggle on the stock market after losing 7.1 percent in year to date returns. The stock which is trading at 0.65t is 39.3 percent lower than its 12 month high price of P1.07.

The banking sector which has recently been boosted by higher earnings from all the listed banks is yet to reach peak performance in the local stock market. First National Bank Botswana, the largest bank in the country and also the biggest company by market capitalization, has continued the downward trend that started last year into the first quarter of the year, dropping 7.1 percent to trade at P2.75. At the current stock price, the bank’s stock value has declined by 24.7 percent in the last 12 months.

Standard Chartered Bank of Botswana might have shocked many after declaring higher profits in its end of year results but the bank’s stock price continues to be under pressure following negative sentiments from investors that have been fuelled by the bank’s previous financial performances which was marked by declining profits. The oldest bank in the country closed the quarter under review trading at P7.35, down by 5.2 percent. This has extended the bank’s losses in the stock market to 31.9 percent in the past 12 months.

Letshego was the only loser in the Financial Services and Insurance sector after dropping 5.7 percent to trade at P2.16, stretching its losses in the last 12 months to 13.6 percent. At the current share price of P2.16, the stock is trading at 19.1 percent lower than its 12 month high price of P2.67.

Other notable losses in the first quarter of 2017 include the leading security and cash management firm, G4S, which dropped 2 percent in stock value to trade at P4, which means the stock has also dropped 2.4 percent from its 12 month high price of P4.10. However the stock’s returns remain solid over the 12 months period with returns of 10.5 percent. The decline of the DCI in the first quarter of the year, and the subsequent narrowing of losses from 2016 was offset by strong performances from mostly the same companies that had held firm in 2016 when the DCI tumbled.

Botswana Telecommunications Corporations Limited (BTCL)’s spectacular rebound has led the rally in the local equities board, rising sharply by 31 percent in the last three months to end the quarter trading at P1.28. At that price, the stock is trading at a premium of 28 percent from its listing price of P1 in April 2016. The stock spent most of 2016 being battered; even reaching lows of P0.85 thebe but in the fourth quarter of 2016 the stock began its rebound buoyed by strong financial performance and attractive dividend payouts. BTCL forms part of the broader Wholesaling and Retail sector on the BSE.

Barclays Bank Botswana continues to buck the trend in the banking sector as far as stock market performance is concerned. In 2016 the second largest bank in the country became the only banking stock to appreciate in value. Barclays has extended its exploits to this year’s first quarter, registering share price gain of 13.1 percent to trade at P5.70. The stock is trading at its all 12 month high, bringing total gains in the last 12 months to 25.3 percent.

The property sector has also shown its resilience in the first quarter as it tapped on the previous year’s overall satisfying performance for the sector. New African Properties (NAP) is becoming the investors’ favourite when it comes to picking up property stocks. NAP advanced by 7.1 percent to trade P3.15, ending the quarter at its highest price in 12 months. This also brings NAP’s gains to 15.8 percent in the last 12 months. Other property stocks that did well during the quarter under review involve Primetime and Letlole La Rona (LRR). Primetime is up by 1.9 percent to trade at P3.16, taking its overall gains in the past 12 months to 6.8 percent. LLR’s share price increased by 1.8 percent in the first 3 months of the year.

Choppies, the leading local grocer, is trying to stage a comeback from the dismal performance on the BSE in the previous year. Choppies which has set its eyes firmly on regional expansion had to watch its stock price plunge by 40 percent in 2016 following declining profits. The grocer whose recent half year results show a 49 percent decline in profits will be pleased with the first quarterly performance on the stock exchange. Choppies stock ended the quarter trading at P2.55, up by 6.3 percent. Nonetheless the stock price is off its 12 month high of P4.2o, representing a loss of 37.8 percent in the past 12 months.

The less influential tourism sector has brought its delightful performance from the previous year to this year’s first quarter as all listed tourism and leisure companies recorded gains. Chobe Holdings Limited ended the quarter trading at a 12 month high of P8.03, up by 4.3 percent. This brings the tourism outfit’s gains to 16.7 percent in the last 12 months. Cresta Marakanelo Limited-which led the rally last year by gaining the most- has advanced slightly by 1.8 percent to trade at P1.30 by end of quarter. While the stock is 0.8 percent off its 12 month high of P1.31, its gains remain solid at 17.1 percent in the past 12 months. Wilderness Holdings Limited ended the first quarter with an increase of 0.6 percent to trade at a 12 month high of P5.20, bringing its 12 month gains to 6.1 percent.

The financial services behemoth, Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL), held steady in the first quarter as the blue chip stock advanced by 2.8 percent. At the closing price of P18.05, the stock is trading at its 12 month high. In the past 12 months the stock has gained 15.7 percent. BIHL with its sprawling portfolio remains the favourite in the Financial Services and Insurance sector.

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MD, Board in BBS battle for supremacy

12th April 2021

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.

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Mphathi promises people centred, environmentally sensitive new BCL

12th April 2021
CEO of Premium Nickel Resources Botswana: Montwedi Mphathi

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.

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Lucara extends sales deal with Belgian diamond cutter

12th April 2021
Lucara extends HB Antwerp’s contract Signum technologies

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.

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