Bolux Milling operates a maize and wheat milling plant in Ramotswa and Francistown
Seaboard Corporation, a New York Stock Exchange listed company has proposed to acquire 49% minority interest in Bolux Group (Pty) Ltd through its Bahamas registered company, Seaboard Botswana Holdings Ltd.
The Competition Authority has sought any stakeholder views for or against the proposed merger, which may be sent within 10 days from date of notice.
Seaboard Corporation prides itself as a unique company with a rich history dating back more than 90 years. Although the company has evolved over time through acquisitions, partnerships and internal growth, its roots are in grain and agriculturally derived products.
According to the company’s website, Seaboard Corporation employs more than 23,000 people worldwide at our subsidiaries and affiliates. They are currently ranked number 387 on the 2014 Fortune 500 list with net sales of approximately $6.67 billion annually. In 2011 Seaboard sales exceeded the $1.5 billion. Expectations are that its healthy balance sheet will help stabilise Bolux Group operations, industry experts say.
The Competition Authority, through its Director, Mergers and Monopolies, confirmed that it has received a merger notification between Bolux Group (Pty) Ltd and Seaboard Botswana Holdings Ltd. The proposed transaction involves Seaboard Botswana Holdings Ltd acquiring 49% minority interest in Bolux Group (Pty) Ltd.
“Seaboard Botswana Holdings Ltd is a company registered in the Bahamas which was established for the purpose of acquiring 49% minority interest in Bolux Group (Pty) Ltd. Seaboard Botswana Holdings Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of Seaboard Corporation, a US listed entity with investments globally, in the food processing grain trading sector.
Seaboard Corporation’s supply of grains in Botswana is limited to direct supplies to Bolux Group only, but they have in the past assisted some grocery retailers in Botswana with the purchase of Sorghum, though this was purely on an adhoc basis. Furthermore Seaboard Corporation supply large quanta of wheat to Pioneer Food Group, the holding company of Bokomo,” reads the merger notice from Competition Authority.
Bolux Group (Pty) Ltd is wholly owned by Corbis Bolux (Pty) Ltd, a South African company. Bolux Group is in the business of production of wheat flour, maize meal, pasta and bread in Botswana, with estimated market shares of 60% (wheat flour), 30% (maize meal) and 40% (pasta).
Bolux Group has evolved over the last ±30 years into a major player in Botswana’s agro-processing industry. The Group has diversified operations to include maize and wheat milling, pasta and biscuit manufacturing and bread manufacturing. â€¨â€¨Bolux Milling operates a maize and wheat milling plant in Ramotswa and Francistown in order to supply the domestic market with flour and maize products. â€¨â€¨The Bolux Group of Companies currently employs in excess of 600 Botswana citizens, making it one of the largest food manufacturers in Botswana.
The Competition Authority has called for stakeholders views for or against the proposed merger.
This century is always looking at improving new super high speed technology to make life easier. On the other hand, beckoning as an emerging fierce reversal force to equally match or dominate this life enhancing super new tech, comes swift human adversaries which seem to have come to make living on earth even more difficult.
The recent discovery of a pandemic, Covid-19, which moves at a pace of unimaginable and unpredictable proportions; locking people inside homes and barring human interactions with its dreaded death threat, is currently being felt.
Member of Parliament for Kanye North, Thapelo Letsholo has cautioned Government against excessive borrowing and poorly managed debt levels.
He was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday delivering Parliament’s Finance Committee report after assessing a motion that sought to raise Government Bond program ceiling to P30 billion, a big jump from the initial P15 Billion.
Government Investment Account (GIA) which forms part of the Pula fund has been significantly drawn down to finance Botswana’s budget deficits since 2008/09 Global financial crises.
The 2009 global economic recession triggered the collapse of financial markets in the United States, sending waves of shock across world economies, eroding business sentiment, and causing financiers of trade to excise heightened caution and hold onto their cash.
The ripple effects of this economic catastrophe were mostly felt by low to middle income resource based economies, amplifying their vulnerability to external shocks. The diamond industry which forms the gist of Botswana’s economic make up collapsed to zero trade levels across the entire value chain.
The Upstream, where Botswana gathers much of its diamond revenue was adversely impacted by muted demand in the Midstream. The situation was exacerbated by zero appetite of polished goods by jewelry manufacturers and retail outlets due to lowered tail end consumer demand.
This resulted in sharp decline of Government revenue, ballooned budget deficits and suspension of some developmental projects. To finance the deficit and some prioritized national development projects, government had to dip into cash balances, foreign reserves and borrow both externally and locally.
Much of drawing was from Government Investment Account as opposed to drawing from foreign reserve component of the Pula Fund; the latter was spared as a fiscal buffer for the worst rainy days.
Consequently this resulted in significant decline in funds held in the Government Investment Account (GIA). The account serves as Government’s main savings depository and fund for national policy objectives.
However as the world emerged from the 2009 recession government revenue graph picked up to pre recession levels before going down again around 2016/17 owing to challenges in the diamond industry.
Due to a number of budget surpluses from 2012/13 financial year the Government Investment Account started expanding back to P30 billion levels before a series of budget deficits in the National Development Plan 11 pushed it back to decline a decline wave.
When the National Development Plan 11 commenced three (3) financial years ago, government announced that the first half of the NDP would run at budget deficits.
This as explained by Minister of Finance in 2017 would be occasioned by decline in diamond revenue mainly due to government forfeiting some of its dividend from Debswana to fund mine expansion projects.
Cumulatively since 2017/18 to 2019/20 financial year the budget deficit totaled to over P16 billion, of which was financed by both external and domestic borrowing and drawing down from government cash balances. Drawing down from government cash balances meant significant withdrawals from the Government Investment Account.
The Government Investment Account (GIA) was established in accordance with Section 35 of the Bank of Botswana Act Cap. 55:01. The Account represents Government’s share of the Botswana‘s foreign exchange reserves, its investment and management strategies are aligned to the Bank of Botswana’s foreign exchange reserves management and investment guidelines.
Government Investment Account, comprises of Pula denominated deposits at the Bank of Botswana and held in the Pula Fund, which is the long-term investment tranche of the foreign exchange reserves.
In June 2017 while answering a question from Bogolo Kenewendo, the then Minister of Finance & Economic Development Kenneth Mathambo told parliament that as of June 30, 2017, the total assets in the Pula Fund was P56.818 billion, of which the balance in the GIA was P30.832 billion.
Kenewendo was still a back bench specially elected Member of Parliament before ascending to cabinet post in 2018. Last week Minister of Finance & Economic Development, Dr Thapelo Matsheka, when presenting a motion to raise government local borrowing ceiling from P15 billion to P30 Billion told parliament that as of December 2019 Government Investment Account amounted to P18.3 billion.
Dr Matsheka further told parliament that prior to financial crisis of 2008/9 the account amounted to P30.5 billion (41 % of GDP) in December of 2008 while as at December 2019 it stood at P18.3 billion (only 9 % of GDP) mirroring a total decline by P11 billion in the entire 11 years.
Back in 2017 Parliament was also told that the Government Investment Account may be drawn-down or added to, in line with actuations in the Government’s expenditure and revenue outturns. “This is intended to provide the Government with appropriate funds to execute its functions and responsibilities effectively and efficiently” said Mathambo, then Minister of Finance.
Acknowledging the need to draw down from GIA no more, current Minister of Finance Dr Matsheka said “It is under this background that it would be advisable to avoid excessive draw down from this account to preserve it as a financial buffer”
He further cautioned “The danger with substantially reduced financial buffers is that when an economic shock occurs or a disaster descends upon us and adversely affects our economy it becomes very difficult for the country to manage such a shock”