Norilsk Nickel has concluded the definitive transaction agreements with BCL Limited to sell its operations in Africa, comprising its 50 percent participation interest in the Nkomati Nickel and Chrome Mine, South Africa, and its 85 percent stake in Tati Nickel Mining Company (Tati Nickel), Botswana, to BCL.
The deal is part of BCL’s expansion drive and the acquisition of the mine in South Africa is the company’s first significant investment in Africa’s second largest economy. It will see Norilsk transfer to BCL its 50 percent interest in the Nkomati nickel and chrome mine, in South Africa, and its 85 percent stake in the Tati Nickel Mining Company.
BCL will also take over from Norilsk Nickel subsidiary Metal Trade Overseas AG (MTO) a commitment to buy the concentrate from the Nkomati operation while at the same time Norilsk’s MTO will enter into an agreement to buy nickel matte from BCL, which the Russian company will process at its Harjavalta refinery in Finland.
Under the Accord, the total expected consideration for the assets payable in cash by BCL to Norilsk Nickel amounts to US$337 million. In addition, BCL will assume all attributable outstanding debt and environmental and rehabilitation liabilities associated with each asset.
The transaction is the largest in a series of asset disposals by Norilsk Nickel since its new strategy was presented in October 2013 with the aim to exit from non-Tier-1 mining operations. This marks Norilsk Nickel’s full exit from its African business, which together with earlier disposals of Australian assets represents the complete exit from international operations marked for disposal.
The assignment of the Nkomati concentrate accord and entering into the matte agreement with BCL are in line with a new Norilsk Nickel’s downstream production re-configuration strategy.
For BCL, the transaction has strong strategic rationale and allows for the treatment of both Tati Nickel and Nkomati concentrates at BCL’s smelter, significantly optimizing this operation and delivering increased economic and social benefits to the region as a whole.
The acquisition of Norilsk Nickel’s interest in Nkomati marks the first significant investment by BCL into South Africa.
“The sale of the African operations marks a major milestone in our commitment to deliver on the new corporate strategy. The transaction is in line with our goal of releasing capital from non-core assets and will have a positive impact on the company’s return on capital as well as shareholder return,” Norilsk Nickel’s first Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Pavel Fedorov, said.
Commenting on the issue, Chairman of the BCL Board of Directors, Dr Akolang Tombale, said: “This transaction is a significant anchor to our Polaris II Strategy. BCL is now evolving into a regional player, with high quality mining assets, supported by a strong metallurgical complex.”
Completion of the sale is subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions. The closing of the transaction is not subject to any financing conditions and is expected to occur within the next six months.
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”