BTCL brings in experienced hands
The only listed telecommunication company in Botswana has bolstered its board of directors with experienced administrators in a move seen as attempts to assure shareholders that Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) intends to create value for its shareholders after a false start post the listing which has been marked by falling share price and concerns about the future of the company.
BTCL which listed in April boast of a large pool of investors who snapped up shares on offer during the oversubscribed Initial Public Offering (IPO). Although the IPO was restricted to citizens, the historic IPO ushered in about 47, 125 new investors, representing 65% of all registered investors.
The BTCL share price debuted at P1 and quickly reached highs of P1.34 on the first weeks of trading but the share price later retreated following a raft of negative news. The share price started dropping after the company recorded a once off impairment loss which was larger than expected. While investors were trying to wrap their heads around that, the telecommunication giant announced that it will not be renewing the Mr. Paul Taylor’s contract as managing director.
The news shocked investors as there had not been an indication that Mr. Taylor’s contract will not be renewed. The share price then tanked to new lows of 0.85t, representing a loss of 15% from the IPO price.To mitigate against the distressed stock which was heavily traded, BTCL appointed a market maker to correct the mismatch between buyers and sellers. It was realised that there was panic selling, particularly amongst novice investors who wanted to exit their positions before they could see the value of their investments eroded.
The market maker seems to have held off the plummeting stock as the share price remained at 0.85t for more than 2 months despite frequent trading of the shares. The share price has since increased by 1t to 0.86t in a move largely interpreted as a show of confidence in the stock which is expected to rebound as investors start to realise the value of their investment. Furthermore, BTCL is expected to deliver pleasing financials later this year.
The appointment of two independent non-executive directors, Ms Lorato Boakgomo-Ntakhwana and Mr. Maclean Letshwiti, will please investors who were wondering about the direction of the company, more so that the company is yet to appoint a substantive Managing Director. Ms Boakgomo and Mr. Letshwiti are highly revered in the business circles after impressive track records in managing and running successful companies. BTCL further announced Ms Boakgomo-Ntakhwana has been appointed the board chairperson, replacing Daphne Matlakala whose tenure had expired. The board’s immediate task will be to find and appoint a substantive managing director, a position which is being currently held by Mr. Anthony Masunga in an acting capacity.
Ms. Boakgomo-Ntakhwana is a career banker whose professional experience spans over 30 years. Her recent appointment was as the Deputy CEO of FNB International and Portfolio Executive for Emerging Countries. Prior to this role, she was the CEO of First National Bank of Botswana Limited, a position she held from 2009 to 2014, and during her tenure the bank gained market share through its increased innovative range of products and services and promoting banking efficiencies through electronic banking products, such as ewallet, banking app, Advanced ATM Machines.
It was also during her tenure that FNB Botswana became the largest bank by market capitalisation in the Botswana Stock Exchange. She has been associated with the FirstRand group since August 2008 where she served as a Board member and Board Committee member in several countries. Currently she is the Managing Director of Sally Dairy, which she recently acquired.
Ms Boakgomo-Ntakhwana holds a Masters in Business Administration with Majors in Finance and Accounting from the Loyola College in the United States of America and a Bachelor of Commerce with Majors in Accounting and Management from the University of Botswana. Her professional qualifications include a Certificate for Traders from South Africa Institute of Financial Markets and a Certificate in Treasury Management from the University of South Africa. She has also attended a Senior Executives Programme by the Wits/Harvard partnership, The Global CEO Executive Programme by IESE Business School.
Mr. Maclean C. Letshwiti is a respected entrepreneur whose expertise spans business management, commercial and industrial development, and project appraisal and monitoring. He was instrumental in setting up the Avis Rent a Car franchise in Botswana. Mr. Letshwiti is also the president of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) after winning elections sometime this year. He has served on a number of Boards of listed companies including Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited which he was Chairman. He was also a board member of Botswana Housing Corporation among other entities.
He is currently a Director of several companies namely; Kalahari Mining a Machinery, Laurelton Diamonds Botswana a subsidiary of Tiffany a Co, a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and Avis Rent A Car.
Mr. Letshwiti holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Administration from the University of Botswana and Swaziland (Botswana Campus) and other professional and leadership qualifications.
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Grit divests from Letlole La Rona
Grit Services Limited, a member of the pan African real estate group, London Stock Exchange listed Grit Real Estate Income Group is divesting from Letlole La Rona Limited (LLR), a local real estate company established by government investment arm Botswana Development Corporation over a decade ago.
The Board of Directors of Letlole La Rona Limited this week announced in a statement to Unitholders that Grit Services Limited (‘Grit’) has informed them of its intention to exit its investment in the company.
Grit has been a material shareholder in LLR since 2019. On 07 March 2023, Grit sold 6 421 000 linked units, representing 2.29% of the Company’s total securities in issue, at a market value of BWP 22 537 710.
This trade follows previous sales of 6.79% in December 2022, as communicated to Unitholders on 10 January 2023, as well as a further sale of 4.78% (representing 13 347 068 linked units) on 24 February 2023 to various shareholders.
In aggregate, Grit has sold 13.9% shareholding in the Letlole La Rona between December 2022 and March 2023, resulting in current shareholding of 11.25% in the Company.
Letlole La Rona said in the statement that the exit process will take place in an orderly manner so as to maintain stability of the Company’s share price.
The statement explained that Grit’s sale of its entire shareholding in LLR is in line with its decision to exit investments where it does not have majority control, or where it has significant exposure to currencies other than US dollar, Euro or hard-currency-pegged revenue streams.
“Grit has announced similar decisions pertaining to certain of its hospitality assets in Mauritius recently. The Company would like to advise Unitholders that it remains focused on long-term value delivery to all stakeholders” LLR said
In July last year as part of their Go-to-Africa strategy Letlole La Rona acquired an initial 30% equity stake in Orbit Africa Logistics, with an option to increase this investment to 50%. OAL is a special purpose vehicle incorporated in Mauritius, owning an industrial asset in a prime industrial node in Nairobi, Kenya.
The co-investment was done alongside a wholly owned subsidiary of London listed Grit. The Orbit facility is situated on a prime industrial site on Mombasa Road, the principal route south of Nairobi center, serving the main industrial node, the port of Mombasa and the industrial town of Athi River and is strategically located 11 kilometers south of the international airport and 9.6 kilometers from the Inland Container Depot.
Grit shareholding in Letlole La Rona was seen as strategic for LLR, for the company to leverage on Grit’s already existing continental presence and expand its wings beyond Botswana borders as already delivered by Kenya transaction.
Media reports have however suggested that LLR and Grit have since late last year had fundamental disagreements on how to go about the Go-to-Africa strategy amongst other things, fuelled by alleged Botswana government interference on the affairs of LLR.
Government through LLR founding shareholder – Botswana Development Corporation has a controlling stake of around 40 percent in the company. Government is the sole shareholder of Botswana Development Corporation.
Letlole La Rona recently released their financial results for the six months ended December 2022, revenue increased by 4% to P50.2 million from P48.4 million in the prior comparative six months, whilst operating profit was up 8% to P36.5 million. Profit before tax of P49.7 million was reported, an increase of 8% on the prior comparative six months.
“We are encouraged by the strong results, notwithstanding a challenging economic environment. Our performance was mainly underpinned by annual lease escalations, our quality tenant base and below average market vacancy levels, especially in our warehouse portfolio,” Kamogelo Mowaneng, Letlole La Rona Chief Executive Officer commented.
LLR reported a weighted average lease expiry period of 3.3 years and escalation rates averaging 6.8% per annum for the period ended 31 December 2022.Its investment portfolio value increased by 14% year-on-year to close the period at P1.4 billion, mainly driven by the acquisition of a 30% stake in OAL in July 2022.
The Company also recorded a significant increase in other income, predominantly due to foreign exchange gains on the OAL shareholder loan. “We continue to explore pipeline opportunities locally, and regionally in line with our Go-to-Africa strategy and our interest remains on value-accretive investments,” Mowaneng said.
An interim distribution of 9.11 thebe per linked unit was declared on the 6th of February 2023 for the half-year period to 31 December 2022, comprising of a dividend of 0.05 thebe and debenture interest of 9.06 thebe per linked unit which will be paid to linked unit holders registered in the books of the Company at the close of business on 24 February 2023.
Stargems Group establishes Training Center in BW
Internationally-acclaimed diamond manufacturing company StarGems Group has established the Stargems Diamond Training Center which will be providing specialized training in diamond manufacturing and evaluation.
The Stargems Diamond Training Institute is located at the Stargems Group Botswana Unit in Gaborone.
“In accordance with the National Human Resource Development Strategy (NHRDS) which holds the principle that through education and skills development as well as the strategic alignment between national ambitions and individual capabilities, Botswana will become a prosperous, productive and innovative nation due to the quality and efficacy of its citizenry. The Training Centre will provide a range of modules in theory and in practice; from rough diamond evaluation to diamond grading and polishing for Batswana, at no cost for eight weeks. The internationally- recognized certificate offered in partnership with Harry Oppenheimer Diamond Training School presents invaluable opportunities for Batswana to access in the diamond industry locally and internationally. The initiative is an extension of our Corporate Social Investment to the community in which we operate,” said Vishal Shah, Stargems Group Managing Director, during the launch of the Stargems Diamond Training Center.
In order to participate in this rare opportunity, interested candidates are invited to submit a police clearance certificate and a BGCSE certificate only to the Stargems offices. Students who excel in these programs will have the chance to be onboarded by the Stargems Group. This serves as motivation for them to go through this training with a high level of seriousness.
“Community empowerment is one of our CSR principles. We believe that businesses can only thrive when their communities are well taken of. We are hoping that our presence will be impactful to various communities and economies. In the six countries that we are operating in, we have contributed through dedicating 10% of our revenues during COVID-19 to facilitate education, donating to hospitals and also to NGOs committed to supporting women and children living with HIV. One key issue that we are targeting in Botswana is the rate of unemployment amongst the youth. We are looking forward to working closely with the government and other relevant authorities to curb unemployment,” said Shah.
Currently, Stargems Group has employed 117 Batswana and they are looking forward to growing the numbers to 500 as the company grows. Majority of the employees will be graduates from the Stargems Diamond Training Center. This initiation has been received with open arms by the general public and stakeholders. During the launch, the Minister of Minerals and Energy, Honorable Lefoko Moagi, stated that the ministry fully endorses Stargems Diamond Training and will work closely with the Group to support and grow the initiative.
“As a ministry, we see this as an game changer that is aligned with one of the United Nations’ Six Priority Sustainable Development Goals, which is to Advance Opportunity and Impact for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). What Stargems Group is launching today will have a huge impact on the creation of employment in Botswana. An economy’s productivity rises as the number of educated workers increases as its skilled workmanship increases. It is not a secret that low skills perpetuate poverty and widen the inequality gap, therefore the development of skills has the potential to contribute significantly to structural transformation and economic growth by enhancing employability and helping the country become more competitive. We are grateful to see the emergence of industry players such as Stargems Group who have strived to create such opportunities that mitigate the negative effects of COVID-19 on the economy,” said the Minister of Minerals and Energy.
Food import bill slightly declines
The latest figures released by Statistics Botswana this week shows that food import bill for Botswana slightly declined from around P1.1 billion in November 2022 to around P981 million in December during the same year.
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