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African Energy sells stake in 300MW Sese plant

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

African Energy (AFR) could sell a majority stake of its Sese Integrated Power Project to First Quantum Minerals (FQM). FQM is a Zambian, Canadian and United Kingdom listed mining and metals company operating seven mines and developing five projects worldwide. AFR and FQM have executed a HOA under which FQM will make a Joint Venture Investment to acquire a majority interest in African Energy Holdings SRL once certain conditions precedent have been satisfied.

African Energy Holdings SRL is the wholly owned Barbados project entity which owns African Energy Resources Botswana (Pty) Ltd, the holder of the Sese and Sese West coal prospecting licences, the Foley North industrial minerals prospecting licence, the approved EIA, surface rights and water allocation.

The deal, worth AUD 20 million (P158,84 million), with an initial payment of AUD $8 million (P63 million) will be used to repay outstanding project loans between African Energy Holdings SRL and AFR  which will earn FQM an effective 51 percent interest in the Sese Project.

Key conditions requiring satisfaction within 30 days of signing the HOA are: Completion of due diligence by FQM on African Energy Holdings SRL and African Energy Resources Botswana and their asset and the execution of a Shareholders Agreement.

On completion of these three transactions, AFR will have; Working capital of US $10million (P90.5 million) to be used for ongoing project development work at Mmamabula and Mmamantswe; 25 percent carried interest in all future project developments at Sese;  A world‐class joint venture partner with the ability to arrange finance at attractive rates and a ‘clear path to rapid project development of one or more power projects in the region.’

The Sese Integrated Power Project seeks to take advantage of three key facts: Sese coal provides a source of very cheap fuel for electricity generation; Sese is located near the hub of the transmission networks that form the backbone of the Southern African Power Pool and there is a shortage of electricity supply for the foreseeable future in all southern African countries.

African Energy is developing the Sese Integrated Power Project (SIPP) at its 2.5 billion tonne Sese coal deposit in northern Botswana. SIPP will have the potential to supply power to Botswana, Zambia, South Africa and Namibia. African Energy has completed a number of milestones for the Sese project which have reduced development risk: Phase 1 of the definitive feasibility study to evaluate a coal mine to provide fuel for an initial; 300MW power station has been completed. No further technical studies are required until a boiler manufacturer has been selected; An Environmental Impact Assessment for the first 300MW integrated power project and coal mine at Sese was approved by the Department of Environmental Affairs in Botswana on 1 September, and is valid for project initiation within 5 years.

To meet these needs, the Sese Integrated Power Project has been designed around an initial 300MW power station comprising two 150MW CFB boilers, with a captive 1.5 Mtpa coal mine providing cheap fuel. The power station and enough coal to supply it for 30 years (approximately 50Mt) will be ring-fenced in Sese Power Pty Ltd, a wholly owned Botswana subsidiary of African Energy. Project finance (debt and equity) will be raised for the development of the project and the debt will be non-recourse to African Energy and therefore off balance sheet.

A water allocation of up to 2.8 GL per annum from the nearby Shashe Dam has been approved for project use, sufficient for approximately 750MW of power generation and associated coal mining. Additional water resources can be secured from Shashe Dam for further projects.  Surface Rights have been approved over an area covering enough coal to fuel five 300MW power projects, along with access to the main highway, rail and power transmission lines.

First Quantum Minerals Limited (FQM) and African Energy Resources Ltd have executed a binding Heads of Agreement (HOA) under which FQM can earn a joint venture interest in the Sese Project and carry AFR’s interest through to commercial operation of one or more integrated power projects. FQM can earn a 75 percent interest in the Sese Project through investment of AUD $20 million and arranging finance as a loan carry for AFR’s 25 percent interest in the Project.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

FQM has also agreed to subscribe for 69 million shares in AFR by way of a Private Placement at AUD 5.5c per share to raise approximately AUD $3.8 million, with, subject to shareholder approval, attaching options on a 1 for 5 basis exercisable at 10c within three years. AFR’s Board of Directors has also resolved to undertake non‐renounceable entitlement offer (Rights Issue) to all eligible shareholders to raise additional net funds of approximately AUD 3.5 million.

 

The Rights Issue will also be priced at AUD 5.5c, and is underwritten. AUD $8 million of the funds invested by FQM in the Project will be returned to AFR as loan repayments. Successful completion of the Private Placement, Entitlement Offer and the joint venture investment will leave AFR debt free, with approximately AUD $10 million working capital and with a 25 percent carried interest in new power projects to be developed at Sese.

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Pula smiles at COVID-19 vaccine

25th November 2020
COVID-19 vaccine

A squeaky and glittering metaphoric smile was the look reflected from the Pula against the greenback this week and money market researchers lean this on optimism following Monday’s announcement of another Covid-19 vaccine which is said to have boosted emerging market economies.

With other emerging market currencies, the Pula too reacted to optimism and fanfare on the new Covid-19 vaccine against the weakening US dollar which has been losing its shine since the uncertainty laden US elections.

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Choppies high on JSE rollercoaster volatility

25th November 2020
CHOPPIES

After bouncing back into the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) last week Friday, following a year of being in the freezer, the Choppies stock started this week with much fluidity.

Choppies was suspended in both the Botswana Stock Exchange and its secondary listing at the JSE for failure to publish financial results. Choppies suspension on Botswana Stock Exchange was lifted on 27 July 2020. On Friday last week, when suspension was being lifted, Choppies explained that this came into fruition “following extensive engagement with the JSE.”

Choppies stock, prior to suspension, hit a mammoth decline in value of more than 60 percent, especially in September 2018. Waking from a 24 month freezer, last week the Choppies share price was at R0.64 and the stock did not make any movement.

However, Monday was the day when Choppies stock moved vibrantly, albeit volatile. Choppies’ value was on a high volatile mood on Monday, reaching highs of 200 percent. At noon, the same Monday, the Choppies share had reached R1.05. Before taking an uphill movement, Choppies stock slightly slipped by 2 cents. But the Choppies share rode up high and by lunch time the stock had reached the day’s summit of R2.00 and that was at 13:30 when investors were buying the stock for lunch.

The same eventful Monday saw gloom on the faces of Choppies rivals, when Choppies gained by 220.31 percent around lunch time its rivals in the JSE Food & Drug Retailers sector were licking wounds. Spar lost 2.94 percent, Pick Pay fell by 2.43 percent, Shoprite 7.52 percent and Dis-Chem 1.98 percent. The only gainer was Clicks by a paltry 0.51 percent.

In an interview with BusinessPost, Choppies sponsors at the JSE PSG Capital Managing Director Johan Holtzhausen explained that the retailer’s stock was in high demand after a long suspension. He said when a company list or a suspension is lifted the market needs to find itself on the pricing of the share.

“Initially when the suspension was lifted there were more buyers than sellers. As far as we could see this created a shortage of shares so to speak and resulted in the price at which the shares traded going to R1.20 and eventually R2.05 before finding its level around R0.80 sent from a JSE perspective.

This is marked dynamics and reflect that there are investors that are positive about the stock in the long run. This is a snapshot over a short period and one requires a longer period to draw further conclusions,” said Holtzhausen in an interview talking about the Choppies stock.

On Monday this week where the Choppies value grew by 200 percent, the stock took a turn looking down, closing the day at R0.87 from a high of R2.00. According to local stockbroker Motswedi Securities on Monday while there was no movement by Choppies in the local stock exchange as the retailer appeared on the board as 141,000 shares traded at P0.60 each.

However in Choppies’ secondary listing the stock price rallied to over 200 percent during intraday trading on Monday before losing steam and declining to around R0.87 share.

Before press yesterday Choppies opened the market with the stock starting the day at R0.80 then went flat for few hours before taking a slide downward, dropping 5 cents in 30 minutes. Choppies then went flat at R0.75 for 50 minutes yesterday before going up at 10:20 am where it nearly recovered the open day price of 80 cents, but was shy of 1 cent. From 79 cents the price went flat until noon.

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Foschini-Jet merger, a class and rivalry conundrum dissection

25th November 2020
Foschini

Competition and Consumer Authority (CCA) has revealed that in its assessment of the Jet take over by Foschini, there were considerations on possible market rivalry and a clash in targeted classes.

According to a merger decision notice seen by this publication this week, high considerations were made to ensure that Foschini’s takeover of Jet is not anyhow an elimination of rivalry or competition or if the two entities; the targeted and the acquiring enterprise serves the same class of customers or offer the same products, to elude the anti-trust issues or a stretch of monopoly.

The two entities are South African retailers whose services stretched to Botswana shores.  Last month local anti-trust body, CCA, received an acquisition proposal from South African clothing retailer, Foschini, stating their intentions to take-over Jet.

South African government’s Business Rescue Practitioners earlier this year after finding out that Jet’s mother company, Edcon, is falling apart, made a decision that Foschini can buy Jet for R480 million. This means that Foschini will add Jet to its portfolio of 30 retail brands that trade in clothing, footwear, jewellery, sportswear, homeware, cell phones, and technology products from value to upper market segments throughout more than 4085 outlets in 32 countries on five continents.

However the main headache for the CCA decision which was released this week, is distinguishing the targeted and the acquiring entity businesses and services.

When doing a ‘Competitive Analysis and Public Interest’ assessment, CCA is said to have discovered that Foschini is classified as a “standard retailer” which targets middle-to-upper income consumers and it competes with stores such as; Truworths and Woolworths. The targeted entity, Jet, is on the lower league when compared to its acquirer, it serves customers of lower classes and is regarded as a discount/value retailer targeting lower income consumers or a mass market. This makes Jet to be in direct competition with Ackermans, Pepkor, Cash Bazaar and Mr Price.

“Therefore, a narrower view of the market is that Foschini through its stores trading in Botswana is not a close competitor to Jet. Additionally, there exist other major rivals who will continue to exercise competitive constraints on the merged enterprise post-merger,” concluded CCA this month.

The anti-trust body continued to explain that in terms of the Acquisition of a Dominant Position, the analysis shows that the acquisition of the target business by Foschini Botswana will result in an insignificant combined market share in the relevant market.

This made CCA reach to a conclusion that there is no case of an acquisition of a dominant position in the market under consideration or any other market on the account of the proposed transaction.

What supports the merger according to CCA is that it is in compliance with regards to ‘Public Interest Considerations’ because the findings of the assessment revealed that the transaction is as a result of the need for a Business Rescue by the target enterprise. This is so because in the event that the proposed transaction fails, it will translate into the loss of the employment positions at the target business.

“On that note the Authority (CCA) found it necessary to ensure that the proposed merger does not result in any retrenchments or redundancies. In light of this, the assessment revealed the critical need to protect the employees of the merged entity from possible merger specific retrenchments/ redundancies,” said CCA.

Before making a determination that the recently proposed transaction is not likely to result in the prevention or substantial lessening of competition or endanger the continuity of the services offered in the relevant market, CCA said it then moved into a concern for public interest which is a protection enshrined in the Competition Act of 2018.

CCA’s concern was mostly loss of livelihood or employment by 126 Batswana workers at Jet stores, stating that possible retrenchments or redundancies may arise as a result of implementation of the proposed merger.

Much to the desire of trade union or labour movements in Botswana and across Southern Africa where the Jet stores are stemmed-who also raised concerns about the retail’s workers job security- CCA subjects Foschini to keep the target entity 126 workers.

“There shall be no merger specific retrenchments or redundancies that may affect the employees of the merged enterprises. For clarity, merger specific retrenchments or redundancies do not include (the list is not exhaustive): i. voluntary retrenchment and/or voluntary separation arrangements; ii. Voluntary early retirement packages; iii. Unreasonable refusals to be redeployed; iv. Resignations or retirements in the ordinary course of business; v. retrenchments lawfully effected for operational requirements unrelated to the Merger; and vi. Terminations in the ordinary course of business, including but not limited to, dismissals as a result of misconduct or poor performance,” said CCA.

CCA also orders that Foschini informs it about all the details of 126 Jet employees within thirty (30) days of the merger approval date. CCA should also know information of when Foschini is implementing the merger, within 30 days of the approval date.

Other conditions include Foschini sharing a copy of the conditions of approval to all employees of the Jet or their respective representatives within ten (10) days of the approval date.

“Should vacancies arise in the target, the merged enterprise shall consider previous employment at one of the non-transferring Jet stores to be a positive factor to be taken into account in the consideration of offering potential employment,” said CCA.

According to CCA, in cases of any job losses, for the Authority to assess whether the retrenchments or redundancies are merger specific, at least three months before (to the extent that this deadline can be practically achieved and in terms of the prevailing and legally required employment practices) any retrenchments or redundancies are to take place, inform the Authority of:  i. The intended retrenchments; ii. The reasons for the retrenchments; iii. The number and categories of employees affected; iv. The expected date of the retrenchments.

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