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Stan Chart CEO in shock resignation

The Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank Botswana, Mr. Moatlhodi Lekaukau, on Wednesday resigned from the troubled bank, leaving more questions than answer.


The resignation of Mr. Lekaukau comes amid allegations of improper behaviour by the bank in handling one of their client’s accounts, possible investigation by the regulator and falling profits. However the board chairman, Prof. Bojosi Botlhogile, and Mr. Lekaukau have denied insinuations that the CEO was pushed out in the face of the emerging scandal. Instead they offered that Mr. Lekaukau, a chartered accountant and former partner at PriceWater House Coopers, will be pursuing other interests.


Mr. Lekaukau’s departure marks five years since he walked through the banking corridors in early 2012 at the time when the economy was recovering following a slump in diamond production caused by subdued global demand. The bank that year recorded a 0.9% decline in profit despite strong set of results that showed slight increase in net interest income and a reduction in bad debt impairment charge. Also contained in the 2012 final year results is a small clue that offers a rare view in what has come to haunt the bank, its obsession with strengthening the balance sheet and its affinity for the risky yet lucrative mining sector.


Standard Chartered Bank Botswana under Mr. Moatlhodi continued with its plans and risky appetite to be the choice financier for the mining industry.  It seemed to have been working out for them as the bank’s corporate segment recorded an impressive growth of about 21%. Furthermore, during that period the bank opened two branches (Gaborone and Francistown) and also introduced the first of its kind in the local banking industry, a 24-hour full service call centre. Despite the 0.9% decline in profit that year, the bank paid P200 million in dividends.


The year 2013 was definitely a good one for the Bank and its CEO. In that period, for the first time ever, the bank exceeded the P1 billion revenue mark. And not only that, the bank was hitting good numbers: profit before tax increased by 28%, total impairment decreased by 57%, and of course the bank emphasised that the balance sheet continues to strengthen with loans to customers increasing by 26% and deposits from non-bank customers increasing  by 8%. For that period, the bank paid P192.9 million in dividends.


The momentum slowed in 2014 when Standard Chartered Botswana recorded profit after tax of P319.184, a decline of o.74% from the previous period. However the bank was satisfied with growth in total income that was 7% above that of 2013, with the balance sheet growing by 28% on the back of advances to customers that grew by 29%. The bank also managed to reduce impairment by 94%. The bank was once more generous with the dividend payout that amounted to P213 million.


Now this is where things started going downhill for the bank. In 2015 delivered its worst set of results in terms of bottom line. The bank’s profit after tax declined from P319.1 million to P47.3 million. The group’s performance in 2015 was impacted by the challenging trading environment characterised by subdued macroeconomic conditions, low interest rates and significant decline in market liquidity. Operating income was down by 18% from 2014 reflecting the challenging market conditions.

 

In 2014, Bank of Botswana had imposed a two year moratorium on banking fees and charges, effectively starving off banks from increasing their revenues through hiking charges and fees. In what shocked shareholders and investors, the oldest bank in the country announced that the shocking decline in profit should not be much of concern. In fact, the bank said part of the reason operating income went down was because they took a strategic management decisions to strengthen the balance sheet at the expense of short term performance. And for all those efforts the balance sheet only grew by 3%.


While the shocking drop in profit was downplayed, the pressure in the bank was becoming more palpable. Other banks were posting declining profits but not as steep as Standard Chartered Bank Botswana. Then details started to emerge, painting a picture of a bank caught off guard by the commodity slump in 2015. The commodity slump in 2015 was a result of waning global demand that resulted in lower productions and lower prices.

 

The bank which has set out to be a financier of choice in the mining industry found itself in a vulnerable position. The bank was later to admit that part of the fall in profit was a result of one of their top corporate client that was having a difficult time financing its loan following the slump in diamond production and sales. As a sign of pressure mounted for the bank, they announced that to maintain capital resilience of the bank and to manage growth expectations in the near future, the Board will consider a dividend declaration in 2016.


In the last know financial performance, the bank’s interim profit for the half year ended June 2016 dropped by 5% from the corresponding period, sparking fresh fears that the bank’s 2016 year end results might be as dismal as the previous year if not worse. The results were once more impacted by a 42% surge on net impairments losses  that resulted in the bank posting profit before tax of P80.1 million, while the profit after tax fell to P63 million.


Despite the fall in profit, the bank remained bullish: they had grown the balance sheet by 3% and they were bolstered by a significant earnings recovery in the first half of the year culminating in first half earnings exceeding total earnings for 2015. However, the optimism was now tampered with caution. The bank announced that it has further strengthened its capital position, tightened risk tolerance and established more robust controls as it continues to focus on driving initiatives to realise long term sustainable gains. During the period, P90 million dividends were declared and paid.


With recovery in sight, the bank had the rug pulled under their feet when the government announced that BCL Group will be put under provisional liquidation. The announcement created a flurry of chatter and confusion, with no doubt that this liquidation is going to have a serious impact on the economy. As it is normally the case, the financial services industry soon found itself affected by the contagion.

 

When the noise settled and calm returned, Standard Charted Bank Botswana dropped a bombshell: they had significant exposure to the BCL group and it was likely to impact their financial performance for 2016. With the hopes of a quick recovery up in smoke, the company’s stock took a drubbing at the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE).


The shareholders who were used to large and consistent payouts were rattled and they acted. When 2015 came to an end, Standard Chartered Bank Botswana’s stock plunged by 11%. The selloff extended to 2016 as the stock became one of the worst performers, plummeting by as much as 30%. The stock is now trading at P7.60 after losing 1.92% in the past two months.


Mr. Lekaukau’s exit could not have come at a worse time, prompting analyst to ask questions if he was pushed out over dismal results or the man is simply pursuing greener pastures. Those who contend he is pushed out point to the bank’s past performances and the falling stock price while those who are convinced he is jumping shipping are saying he actually took longer than expected given the frustrations of the job. Industry insiders and those familiar with the matter say the banking industry in Botswana is controlled from outside by parent companies (Botswana has no indigenous commercial bank).


While banking heavyweights like First National Bank Botswana and Barclays Bank Botswana also answer to superiors outside the country, Mr. Lekaukau was in different circumstances altogether. FNBB and Barclays Botswana are owned by parent companies that are based in South Africa hence understand the African business dynamics and can respond quickly to opportunities and threats.

 

As for Standard Chartered Bank Botswana, despite being the oldest bank in Botswana, the shots came from Kenya to Dubai, Singapore and London. Standard Chartered Bank Plc, the global banking group, has most of the time treated its Botswana operations as an extension of the Kenya operations. This has made it difficult for the Botswana operations to be innovative and responsive.


But for now, Mr. Lekaukau’s resignation will be the least of the bank’s worries after the bank found itself embroiled in a scandal that is expected to unveil the shadowy operations of the banking sector. The bank is being accused by Mr. Majakathata Pheko of Oseg Group for playing fast and loose with his businesses accounts. Mr. Pheko has made damning allegations that the bank was negligent and gave unauthorised overdrafts.

 

Furthermore, the businessman says the bank’s handling of the issue bordered on clear violations of the bank’s own internal controls and runs afoul of the regulations set by the regulatory body. Still on that, Mr. Pheko has written to the central bank to intervene while in the meantime he has lodged a lawsuit against the bank.

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Business

New study reveals why youth entrepreneurs are failing

21st July 2022
Youth

The recent study on youth entrepreneurship in Botswana has identified difficult access to funding, land, machinery, lack of entrepreneurial mindset and proper training as serious challenges that continue to hamper youth entrepreneurship development in this country.

The study conducted by Alliance for African Partnership (AAP) in collaboration with University of Botswana has confirmed that despite the government and private sector multi-billion pula entrepreneurship development initiatives, many young people in Botswana continue to fail to grow their businesses into sustainable and successful companies that can help reduce unemployment.

University of Botswana researchers Gaofetege Ganamotse and Rudolph Boy who compiled findings in the 2022 study report for Botswana stated that as part of the study interviews were conducted with successful youth entrepreneurs to understand their critical success factors.

According to the researchers other participants were community leaders, business mentors, Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture, financial institutions, higher education institutions, non-governmental institutions, policymakers, private organizations, and support structures such as legal and technical experts and accountants who were interviewed to understand how they facilitate successful youth entrepreneurship.

The researchers said they found that although Botswana government is perceived as the most supportive to businesses when compared to other governments in sub-Saharan Africa, youth entrepreneurs still face challenges when accessing government funding. “Several finance-related challenges were identified by youth entrepreneurs. Some respondents lamented the lack of access to start-up finance, whereas others mentioned lack of access to infrastructure.”

The researchers stated that in Botswana entrepreneurship is not yet perceived as a field or career of choice by many youth “Participants in the study emphasized that the many youth are more of necessity entrepreneurs, seeing business venturing as a “fall back. Other facilitators mentioned that some youth do not display creativity, mind-blowing innovative solutions, and business management skills. Some youth entrepreneurs like to take shortcuts like selling sweets or muffins.”

According to the researchers, some of the youth do not display perseverance when they are faced with adversity in business. “Young people lack of an entrepreneurial mindset is a common challenge among youth in business. Some have a mindset focused on free services, handouts, and rapid gains. They want overnight success. As such, they give up easily when faced with challenges. On the other hand, some participants argue that they may opt for quick wins because they do not have access to any land, machinery, offices, and vehicles.”

The researchers stated that most youth involved in business ventures do not have the necessary training or skills to maintain a business. “Poor financial management has also been cited as one of the challenges for youth entrepreneurs, such as using profit for personal reasons rather than investing in the business. Also some are not being able to separate their livelihood from their businesses.

Lastly, youth entrepreneurs reported a lack of experience as one of the challenges. For example, the experience of running a business with projections, sticking to the projections, having an accounting system, maintaining a clean and clear billing system, and sound administration system.”

According to the researchers, the participants in the study emphasized that there is fragmentation within the entrepreneurial ecosystem, whereby there is replication of business activities without any differentiation. “There is no integration of the ecosystem players. As such, they end up with duplicate programs targeting the same objectives. The financial sector recommended that there is a need for an intermediary body that will bring all the ecosystem actors together and serve as a “one-stop shop” for entrepreneurs and build mentorship programs that accommodate the business lifecycle from inception to growth.”

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Business

BHC yearend financial results impressive

18th July 2022
BHC

Botswana Housing Corporation (BHC) is said to have recorded an operating surplus of P61 Million, an improvement compared to the previous year. The housing, office and other building needs giant met with stakeholders recently to share how the business has been.

The P61 million is a significant increase against the P6 million operating loss realized in the prior year. Profit before income tax also increased significantly from P2 million in the prior year to P72 million which resulted in an overall increase in surplus after tax from P1 million prior year to P64 million for the year under review.

Chief of Finance Officer, Diratsagae Kgamanyane disclosed; “This growth in surplus was driven mainly by rental revenue that increased by 15% from P209 million to P240 million and reduction in expenditure from P272 million to P214 million on the back of cost containment.”
He further stated that sales of high margin investment properties also contributed significantly to the growth in surplus as well as impairment reversals on receivables amounting to P25 million.

It is said that the Corporation recorded a total revenue of P702 million, an 8% decrease when compared to the P760 million recorded in the prior year. “Sales revenue which is one of the major revenue streams returned impressive margins, contributing to the overall growth in the gross margin,” added Kgamanyane.

He further stated professional fees revenue line declined significantly by 64% to P5 million from P14 million in the prior year which attributed to suspension of planned projects by their clients due to Covid-19 pandemic. “Facilities Management revenue decreased by P 24 million from P69 million recorded in prior year to P45 million due to reduction in projects,” Kgamanyane said.

The Corporation’s strength is on its investment properties portfolio that stood at P1.4 billion at the end of the reporting period. “The Corporation continues its strategy to diversify revenue streams despite both facilities management income and professional fees being challenged by the prevailing economic conditions that have seen its major clients curtailing spending,” added the CEO.

On the one hand, the Corporation’s Strategic Performance which intended to build 12 300 houses by 2023 has so far managed to build 4 830 houses under their SHHA funding scheme, 1 240 houses for commercial or external use which includes use by government and 1 970 houses to rent to individuals.

BHC Acting CEO Pascaline Sefawe noted that; BHC’s planned projects are said to include building 336 flat units in Gaborone Block 7 at approximately P224 million, 100 units in Maun at approximately P78 million, 13 units in Phakalane at approximately P26 million, 212 units in Kazungula at approximately P160 million, 96 units at approximately P42 million in Francistown and 84 units at approximately P61 million in Letlhakane. Emphasing; “People tend to accuse us of only building houses in Gaborone, so here we are, including other areas in our planned projects.”

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Business

Commercial banks to cash big on high interest rates on loans

18th July 2022
Commercial-banks

Researchers from some government owned regulatory institutions in the financial sector have projected that the banking sector’s profitability could increase, following Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee recent decision to increase monetary policy rate.

In its bid to manage inflation, Bank of Botswana Monetary Policy Committee last month increased monetary policy rate by 0.50 percent from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent, a development which resulted with commercial banking sector increasing interest rate in lending to household and companies. As a result of BoB adjustment of Monetary Policy Rate, from 1.65 percent to 2.15 percent commercial banks increased prime lending rate from 5.76 percent to 6.26 percent.

Researchers from Bank of Botswana, the Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority, the Financial Intelligence Agency and the Botswana Stock Exchange indicated that due to prospects of high inflation during the second half of 2022, there is a possibility that the Monetary Policy Committee could further increase monetary policy rate in the next meeting in August 25 2022.

Inflation rose from 9.6 percent in April 2022 to 11.9 percent in May 2022, remaining above the Bank of Botswana medium-term objective range of 3 – 6 percent. According to the researchers inflation could increase further and remain high due to factors that include: the potential increase in international commodity prices beyond current forecasts, logistical constraints due to lags in production, the economic and price effects of the ongoing Russia- Ukraine conflict, uncertain COVID-19 profile, domestic risk factors relating to possible regular annual administered price adjustments, short-term unintended consequences of import restrictions resulting with shortages in supplies leading to price increases, as well as second-round effects of the recent increases in administered prices “Furthermore, the likelihood of further increases in domestic fuel prices in response to persistent high international oil prices could add upward pressure to inflation,” said the researchers.

The researchers indicated that Bank of Botswana could be forced to further increase monetary policy rate from the current 2.15 percent if inflation rises persistently. “Should inflation rise persistently this could necessitate an upward adjustment in the policy rate. It is against this background that the interest rate scenario assumes a 1.5 percentage points (moderate scenario) and 2.25 percentage points (severe scenario) upward adjustment in the policy rate,” said the researchers.

The researchers indicated that while any upward adjustment on BoB monetary policy rate and commercial banks prime lending rate result with increase in the cost of borrowing for household and compnies, it increase profitability for the banking sector. “Increases in the policy rate are associated with an overall increase in bank profitability, with resultant increases in the capital adequacy ratio of 0.1 percentage points and 0.2 percentage points for the moderate and severe scenarios, respectively,” said the researchers who added that upward adjustment in monetary policy rate would raise extra capital for the banking sector.

“The increase in profit generally reflects the banking industry’s positive interest rate gap, where interest earning assets exceed interest earning liabilities maturing in the next twelve months. Therefore, an increase of 1.5 percentage points in the policy rate would result in industry gains of P71.7 million (4.1 percent increase), while a 2.25 percentage points increase would lead to a gain of P173.9 million (6.1 percent increase), dominated by large banks,” said the researchers.

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