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Investors advised to Buy BTCL stock

Investment Analysts at Motswedi securities have strongly recommend investors to BUY the stock during the IPO and also subsequent to listing as Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) provides significant growth potential to investors.

BTCL has opened an Initial Public Offering (IPO) of 462mn shares at a price of P1 per share with a minimum offer of 1,000 shares. The offer is expected to close on Friday, the 4th of March 2016 with the shares expected to list on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) on the 8th of April 2016.

“With a listing PE of 5.5x, which is way below the market average PE of 14.7x, the share price has more scope for upside potential. We are targeting a price of 180 thebe for the stock, using a conservative valuation method. This gives an 80% upside potential against the IPO price of 100 thebe per share,” writes Gary Juma and Tlotlo Ramalepa who had embarked on a research project to appraise investors on the viability of the BTCL stock.

WHERE IS THE GROWTH STORY?

According to Juma and Ramalepa, the BTCL growth strategy is centred on leveraging its fixed, mobile and convergent products and services potential. The strategy is intended to leverage BTCL’s unique market position as the only fixed and mobile network operator in Botswana by creating competitive advantages for the company through the provision of traditional fixed and mobile broadband, information and content capabilities.

The two investment analysts further state that the BTCL’s strategic plan focuses on:
• Leveraging BTCL’s unique market position in Botswana, as the sole fixed and mobile operator, combining its mobile and fixed networks coverage, to smartly package unique fixed and mobile value propositions.

Moving BTCL Wholesale to higher value managed services, by offering managed (hosted) data services to mitigate the threat posed by direct competition with BoFiNet and others entering the managed data services market; • Defending the existing business through sophisticated bundling and packaging of traditional products, promoting BTCL tariffs, which are the lowest in Botswana, and marketing the BTCL network presence, and increased focus on customer satisfaction.
• controlling costs through business transformation by unifying networks and minimising the IT platforms estate, ensuring flexibility and agility in products and service offerings.
•innovating and growing revenues through building strategic alliances and partnerships, so as to improve levels of innovation, research and development capabilities within BTCL;

THE DOWNSIDE…

Increased competition in the telecoms sector within the country as a result of market liberalisation and this has led in some instances BTCL losing some of its key clients to competitors.

The business is a high volume business with profitability very sensitive to variation in margins. This is because, BoFinet determines the margins available to network operators and in some cases BTCL may not be able to pass on to the retailer any margin compression enforced by BoFinet and this will eat on margins and profitability.
However, Juma and Ramalepa point out that BTCL has a profitable and strong business model.  They opine that the company has been able to increase its revenue from P1.0bn in 2011 to P1.47bn in 2015, while profit after tax has risen from P177mn in 2011 to a high of P273.6mn in 2013 before falling to P146.8mn in 2015.
“BTCL has been paying a very good dividend of 5.66thebe per share in 2011, 7.11thebe in 2012 and 50.68thebe per share in 2014, reflecting a healthy cash flow position and profitability.”

WHY INVEST IN BTCL

Juma and Ramalepa demonstrate that BTCL has a number of strengths and competences which translate to certain key advantages over other players in the Botswana communications sector.

They first show a measure of the BTCL as a Profitable Company : “BTCL has a profitable and strong business model. The company has been able to increase its revenue from P1.0bn in 2011 to P1.47bn in 2015, while profit after tax has risen from P177mn in 2011 to a high of P273.6mn in 2013 before falling to P146.8mn in 2015.”
BUSINESS MODEL

The two analysts share on the BTCL business model: “BTCL offers its products and services through two operating business units namely: a. BTCL Wholesale – the wholesale arm of BTCL’s business; and b. FMC Organisation – which combines beMobile, Broadband and Fixed into a single business unit.”
Wider Network footprint

Juma and Ramalepa write that BTCL through its BeMobile unit has gained significant competitive advantage in the mobile domain, BTCL has a PTO Licence issued by the regulator, BOCRA. It is one of the three local PTO Licence operators (with the others being Mascom Wireless and Orange Botswana).

“BTCL is, however, the only PTO Licence holder operating both the traditional fixed and mobile networks. The BeMobile unit has gained significant competitive advantage in the mobile domain, particularly in remote areas because of its extensive mobile coverage. This network strength resulted in a 65% market share in fixed broadband and data services, 90% in fixed network voice services and 17% in mobile connections,” they state.  

According to Juma and Ramalepa, the mobile market share is notable in so far as it has been achieved within seven years against two very prominent and well established brands. No other operator has assets deployed as widely across both fixed and mobile services space as BTCL.
Vodafone Partnership

According to the Motswedi Securities analysts, BTCL has entered into a strategic partnership with one of the world’s leading communications services providers, Vodafone.

They state that this partnership will enable Vodafone and BTCL the option to cooperate and deploy certain products and services (including third party products and services); enabling BTCL to gain access to the Vodafone knowledge bank; and permitting the parties to carry out capability assessments and co-operate on procurement for the benefit of BTCL in Botswana for a period of three years.

Juma and Ramalepa argue that the existence of BTCL’s copper access network means BTCL is the only operator with capacity and capability to offer ADSL services. They posit that this affords BTCL a market opportunity to offer voice and ADSL services through the copper network to its clients. With the advent of new technologies such as Ethernet over Copper BTCL will in future be able to offer improved broadband internet speeds over its copper network.

BTCL IN BRIEF

“BTCL was established in 1980 to provide, develop, operate and manage Botswana’s national and international telecommunications services. Since then, BTC has evolved to become one of the leading providers in Botswana of voice telephony (both fixed and mobile), as well as national and international internet, data services, virtual private networks and customer equipment to the nation. Part of the Company’s growth and success stems from the acquisition of the PTO Licence in 2007, which was one of the three licences issued by BOCRA (then the Botswana Telecommunications Authority).

The PTO Licence permits BTCL to offer services of any kind, using any technology, connected with public telecommunications. BTCL is the only PTO Licence holder operating both the traditional fixed and mobile networks,” shares Juma and Ramalepa in their research document.

‘IPO Ya Rona Rotlhe’

Juma and Ramalepa state that BTCL was identified in the Privatisation Master Plan of 2005 as a candidate for privatisation. To facilitate BTCL’s privatisation process,

Parliament, in 2008, passed the Transition Act to enable Government to convert BTC from a statutory body to a limited liability company under the Companies Act. Government further adopted a privatisation model for BTCL in 2010. The key features of the Privatisation Model include, amongst others, the following:
44% of BTCL’s equity would be made available for ownership by Batswana via the BSE;

Government would retain 51% equity, together with the Trans- Kalahari Optic Fibre Network, the Gaborone-Francistown Loop and other backbone infrastructure assets and contracts which would be placed under a separate entity, wholly owned by Government.

Prior to Listing, 5% of the total equity of BTCL would be allocated to BTCL’s citizen employees and an Employee Share Trust will be established to manage and hold these shares for the employees.

Trading of shares in the BSE would be permitted amongst Citizen investors only;

WHY LIST?

Provide an opportunity to Batswana, who have supported BTCL over the years.

Allow Batswana to share in the growth and profitability of BTCL.

Raise the company profile and investor awareness of BTCL locally.

Raise equity capital for the company.

Enable government to privatise BTCL in line with the Privatisation Master Plan of 2005.
 

WHO CAN INVEST?

The Offer is available only to:

a. Natural persons who are citizens of Botswana.
b. Corporate entities registered or operating in Botswana which are wholly citizen owned.
c. Unincorporated associations, partnerships, and investment funds (whether managed directly or by institutional investors registered in Botswana) which are wholly Citizen owned.
d. Trusts whose ultimate beneficiaries are all Botswana citizens.
e. Local Pension Funds managed by institutional investors registered in Botswana.

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Business

Slight growth in GDP as economy battles return

28th July 2021
Peggy-Serame

Botswana’s economy showed slight growth signs in the first quarter of 2021, following a devastating year in 2020.

During 2020, the entire second quarter was on zero economic activity as the country went on total lockdown in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

Diamond trade plummeted to record low levels as global travel restrictions halted movement of both goods and people and muted trade.

The end result was a significant decline for the local economy, at an estimated 7 percent contraction, just marginally below the 2008/09 global financial crises.

According to figures released by Statics Botswana this week, the country’s nominal Gross Domestic Product for the first quarter of 2021 was P47.739 billion compared to a revised P45.630 billion registered during the previous quarter.

This represents a quarterly increase of 4.6 percent in nominal terms between the two periods.

During the quarter, Public Administration and Defence became the major contributor to GDP by 18.4 percent, followed by Wholesale & Retail by 11.4 percent. The contribution of other sectors was below 6.0 percent, with Water and Electricity Supply being the lowest at 1.6 percent.

Real GDP for the first quarter of 2021 increased by 0.7 percent compared to a contraction of 4.6 percent registered in the previous quarter.

The improvement in the first quarter 2021 GDP reflected continued efforts to reopen businesses and resume activities that were postponed or restricted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The real GDP increased by 0.7 percent during the period under review, compared to an increase of 1.2 percent in the same quarter of 2020.

The recovery in the domestic economy was observed across majority of industries except Accommodation & Food Services, Mining & Quarrying, Manufacturing, Construction, Other Services and Agriculture, Forestry & Fishing.

The overall slow performance of the economy was mainly due to the impact of measures that were put in place to combat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Non-mining GDP increased by 4.1 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to 4.0 percent increase registered in the same quarter of the previous year.

Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing industry decreased by 2.0 percent in real value added during the first quarter of 2021, relative to a contraction of 5.2 percent registered during the same quarter of 2020.

The main driver of the unfavorable performance stems from a decrease in real value added of Livestock farming by 3.0 percent.

Mining and Quarrying registered a decrease 11.4 percent in the real value added, this was mainly influenced by the drop in the Gold and Diamond real value added by 17.5 and 12.5 percent respectively.

Diamond production in carats went down by 12.1 percent while the tonnage of Gold produced went down by 17.5 percent.

The poor performance of the diamond sub-industry is attributed to the reduction in production due to a lower grade feed to the plant at Orapa in response to heavy rainfall and operational issues, including continued power supply disruptions.

With regard to Gold is due to diminishing resource base which affect production.

The Manufacturing industry recorded a decline of 7.4 percent in real value added during the first quarter of 2021, compared to a decrease of 2.3 percent registered in the corresponding quarter of 2020.

The deep low performance in the industry is observed in the two major sub-industries of Beverages & tobacco and Diamond cutting, polishing and setting by 57.0 and 38.5 percent respectively.

The reduction in Beverages is attributed to alcohol sale ban imposed during the quarter under review in order to reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus. On the other hand, exports of polished diamonds went down by 24.9 percent compared to a decrease of 11.5 percent registered in the same quarter of the previous year.

The construction industry recorded a decline of 4.8 percent compared to an increase of 4.3 percent realized in the corresponding quarter in 2020.

This industry comprises of buildings construction, civil engineering and specialized construction activities. The industry is still showing signs of the consequences of COVID-19 pandemic. The industry recorded a negative growth of 7.4 percent in the previous quarter.

Water and Electricity Water and Electricity value added at constant 2016 prices for the first quarter of 2021 was P506.2 million compared to P378.2 million registered in the same quarter of 2020, recording a growth of 33.8 percent.

In the first quarter of 2021, Electricity recorded a significant growth of 62.4 percent compared to a decrease of 67.6 percent recorded in the corresponding quarter of 2020.

The local electricity production increased by 22.4 percent while Electricity imports decreased by 33.3 percent during quarter under review. The water industry recorded a value added of P231.3 million compared to P209.0 million registered in the same quarter of the previous year, registering an increase of 10.7 percent.

Wholesale and Retail Trade real value added increased by 11.4 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to an increase of 5.5 percent registered in the same quarter of the previous year. The industry deals with sales of fast moving consumer goods.

Diamond Traders recorded a significant growth of 112.7 percent as opposed to a decline of 22.7 percent recorded in the corresponding quarter last year. The positive growth is due to improved demand of diamonds from the global market.

The Transport and Storage value added increased by 0.6 percent in the first quarter of 2021, compared to a 2.4 percent increase recorded in the same quarter of the previous year.

The slight improved performance of the industry was mainly attributed to the increase in real value added of Road Transport and Post & Courier Services by 4.3 and 2.1 percent respectively.

The slow growth was influenced by a significant reduction in Air Transport services of 69.7 percent due to reduced number of passengers carried. Rail goods traffic in tonnes went down by 6.4 percent and passenger rail transport was not operating during the quarter under review.

Accommodation and Food Services Accommodation and Food Services real value added declined by 31.7 percent in the first quarter of 2021 compared to a decrease of 4.4 percent registered in the same quarter of the previous year. The reduction is largely attributed to a decrease of 42.1 percent in real value added of the Accommodation activities subindustry.

The suspension of air travel occasioned by Covid-19 containment measures impacted on the number of tourists entering the borders of the country and hence affecting the output of Hotels and Restaurants industry. COVID-19 restriction measures resulted in reduced demand for leisure and conferencing activities, as conferences are largely held through virtual platforms.

Finance, Insurance and Pension Funding industry registered a positive growth of 8.3 percent due to the favorable performance from monetary intermediation and Central Banking Services by 16.4 and 5.4 percent respectively during quarter under review.

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Business

Chobe Holdings secures P16 million for dark days

28th July 2021
Chobe Holdings

It is still tough in the tourism industry — big players in this sleeping giant are not having it easy, but options are being explored to keep the once vibrant multibillion Pula sector alive until the world gets back to normalcy.

One of the primary measures against the spread of Covid-19 is to stay home; this widely pronounced precaution against the global contagion that has claimed over 4 million lives across the world is however a thorn in the flesh of one of the major industries in the global economy — the tourism sector .

This sector is underpinned by travel – an act which is the virus‘ number one mode of spread, especially across borders.

Chobe Holdings Limited, one of Botswana’s leading high end eco-tourism giants said its survival strategies are underpinned by well-crafted stakeholder engagements in the mist of these unprecedented times of muted trading activity.

“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Chobe continued to invest in and strengthen its relationships with key stakeholders in both its traditional markets and the SADC region,” the company directors updated shareholders this week.

To keep the business afloat, the company which owns and operates some of the exquisite tourism destinations along the banks of the mighty Chobe said it has triggered its existing available debt financing avenues.

Chobe revealed that its current overdraft of BWP 25 million has been extended on favourable terms.

The company shared that it has negotiated a further USD 1.5 million (over P16 million) standby loan with a flexible settlement terms and preferable cost implications to the bottom line.

“We are confident that the Group has sufficient cash inflows, cash reserves and un-utilized prearranged borrowing in place to settle any liabilities falling due and support the smooth recovery of operations in the short and medium term,” the company directors said, noting that they will retain the flexibility to vary operations should market conditions change.

Early this year, Chobe announced that the ongoing crisis in the tourism industry forced the company to draw from its prearranged overdraft facility of P25 million to the extent of P11.6 million.

Last year Chobe’s occupancy levels around its lodges and hotels went down 89 percent. This resulted in unprecedented revenue decline of 93% to P27.78 million from the P373.94 million in the previous year ended February 2020.

Operating profits went down 159% with profit after tax down 170%, mirroring a loss of over P67 million.

Chobe management said during the last half of the financial year they have done all they could to contain costs across the company’s operations.

During the last half of the year Chobe’s marketing and reservations teams continued to pursue the “don’t cancel but defer policy”.

“We thus continue to hold advance travel receipts, to the value of about P34 million at the financial year end,” the company revealed early this year.

Chobe said it continues to engage Government, through HATAB and BTO to prioritize the vaccination of workers in the tourism sector.

“Throughout the pandemic we have ensured that employees are trained in and comply with COVID-19 infection mitigation protocols as well as ensuring that all visitors to our remote camps and lodges as well as our staff and contractors are tested for COVID-19 before reaching the camp or lodges,” the company said.

However, the company said vaccinating the tourism staff will provide the best way to ensure that both employees and guests are protected from the virus.

“We continue to manage our cashflow through stringent cost control measures, balanced against the protection of the Group’s physical assets and the wellbeing and retention of its people,” the company said.

Chobe has successfully retained its top management through the pandemic.  To this end the company directors continue to closely monitor the Group’s recovery from COVID-19 and adjust salary reductions to support operations and aid retention.

Domestic and regional travel resumed during the second quarter of the 2020/21 financial year with the Group opening a strategic mix of camps and lodges.

A comprehensive domestic, regional and international marketing plan was put in place to support these openings.

International travel resumed in the first quarter of the 2021/22 financial year with occupancies forecast to steadily increase, albeit from a low base, through the second quarter.

The company is optimistic that forward bookings are strong for the 2022/23 financial year.

“There is pent-up demand from our traditional source markets to travel now, but this is tempered by uncertainty and access constraints,” the company stated.

“Both the domestic and international markets are sensitive to such uncertainty, and it is critical that both the private and public sector work together to develop and publish clear, authoritative and consistent travel information in order to build confidence”

Chobe entered the pandemic with the Shinde camp rebuild in progress — one of its high end camps and this was completed in the first half of the 2020/21 financial year accounting for the majority of the Group’s capital expenditure for that period.

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Business

De Beers Q2 production jumps in response to strong rough diamond demand

28th July 2021
De-Beers -jwaneng-mine

De Beers Group, the world’s leading rough diamonds producer by value and Botswana’s partner in the diamond business, ramped up its production in the second quarter of 2021, in response to stronger demand for rough diamonds in the global markets.

The London headquartered diamond mining giant revealed in its production report this week that rough diamonds output  increased by 134% to 8.2 million carats in the three(3) months  of quarter 2 2021, “reflecting planned higher production to meet stronger demand for rough diamonds”.

This was against the backdrop of curtailed demand in the same quarter last year, mirroring the impact of Covid-19 lockdowns across southern Africa during that period.

In Botswana, where De Beers sources majority of its rough diamonds through partly government owned Debswana, production increased by 214% to 5.7 million carats. The percentage jump mirrored planned low production in the second quarter of 2020 where output was adjusted to market demands and implemented Covid-19 protocols.

Debswana operates four (4) Mines: Jwaneng Mine- being its flagship producer and largest revenue contributor. Jwaneng Mine which is the wealthiest diamond mine in the world by value is envisaged for multi-billion expansion to an underground operation in future to stretch its existence by few more decades.

The underground project which is anticipated to cost a whooping P65 billion will be the world‘s largest underground diamond mine.

The company which accounts for over 65 % of De Beers’s global production also operates Orapa Mine- one of the world’s largest by area, Letlhakane Mine currently a tailings treatment operation and Damtshaa Mine which is under care and maintenance following market shrink in 2020.

Namibia production decreased by 6% to 0.3 million carats, primarily due to planned maintenance of the Mafuta vessel which was completed in the quarter and another vessel remaining demobilized.  In Namibia De Beers sources diamonds both in land and marine through Namdeb and Debmarine respectfully.

In South Africa-the spiritual home ground of De Beers Group, production increased by 130% to 1.3 million carats, due to planned treatment of higher grade ore from the final cut of the Venetia open pit, as well as the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown in Q2 2020.

Production in Canada increased by 14% to 0.9 million carats, primarily reflecting the impact of the Covid-19 measures implemented in Q2 2020.

De Beers said consumer demand for polished diamonds continued to recover, leading to strong demand for rough diamonds from midstream cutting and polishing centers, despite the impact on capacity from the severe Covid-19 wave in India during April and May.

Rough diamond sales totaled 7.3 million carats (6.5 million carats on a consolidated basis), from two Sights, reflecting the impact of the reduced Indian midstream capacity on Sight 4, compared with 0.3 million carats (0.2 million carats on a consolidated basis) from two Sights in Q2 2020, and 13.5 million carats (12.7 million carats on a consolidated basis) from three Sights in Q1 2021.

The H1 2021 consolidated average realized price increased by 13% to $135/ct (H1 2020: $119/ct), driven by an increased proportion of higher value rough diamonds sold.

While the average price index remained broadly flat, the closing index increased by 14% compared to the start of 2021, reflecting tightness in inventories across the diamond value chain as well as positive consumer demand for polished diamonds.

Full Year Guidance Production guidance is tightened to 32–33 million carats (previously 32-34 million carats (100% bases)), subject to trading conditions and the extent of any further Covid-19 related disruptions.

When commenting to 2021 quarter 2 production figures, Mark Cutifani, Chief Executive of Anglo American- De Beers parent, said the entire Anglo American Group delivered a solid operational performance supported by comprehensive Covid-19 measures to help safeguard the lives and livelihoods of its workforce and host communities.

“We have generally maintained operating levels at approximately 95% of normal capacity and, as a consequence, production increased by 20% compared to Q2 of last year, with planned higher rough diamond production at De Beers” he said.

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