Choppies’ Ram takes 43% salary Chop
By Aubrey Lute
The Chief Executive Officer of Choppies Group, Mr Ramachandran Ottapathu has a new employment Contract as Chief Executive Officer – and it his pay cheque is down 43%. The employment contract of Mr Ottapathu was reviewed following advices from Advocates Hoffmann SC and Redding SC hance ‘appropriate clauses inserted in the employment contract’.
According to a Choppies circular, “In accordance with current best remuneration practises as advocated by King IV Code on Corporate Governance, the current guaranteed portion of the Chief Executive Officer’s remuneration has been reduced by 43% to facilitate the introduction of short-term incentives.”
The circular, released this week, states that upon the lifting of the suspension of the Company’s share trading on the BSEL and JSE, the Board will consider the introduction of long-term incentives as part of the remuneration of the Chief Executive Officer as well as the quantum of overall remuneration. The reviewed employment contract between the Company, and the Chief Executive Officer was effective as of 1 March 2020.
In addition Choppies has appointed a Chief Financial Officer. A South African Chartered Accountant has been appointed CFO with effect from mid-April 2020. This appointment is subject to the issuing of a work permit by the Botswana authorities. “The individual has extensive JSE listed company experience including group accountant of the Nampak Group for six years and more recently senior financial positions within the retail group Edcon.”
Furthermore the Group has recruited a Deputy Chief Executive Officer. According to the circular, a suitable candidate with over 25 years of grocery retail experience in Southern Africa including very senior executive position and proven retail track record has been identified and he will commence duties with the Group, as soon as his current commitment comes to an end, during April 2020.
Loans and injection of capital by founding shareholders
As of 19 September 2019 loans of an aggregate of approximately BWP680million were outstanding to the Lenders. According to Choppies, in terms of a facility agreement concluded between the Company and CDC and certain of the Lenders, the capital of majority of loans was repayable, over a 5-year period of time, commencing 1 July 2020, with interest payable on a monthly basis.
“Because of various instances of default, the main instance of which was failure to timeously deliver and publish the audited consolidated financial statements in respect of the year ended 30 June 2018, the principal balances of or the borrowings, became payable in full, on demand.”
The circular notes that the Lenders agreed to hold off making demand for immediate payment and proceeding to recover the full amount of the aggregate of the capital of the borrowings provided that there be an immediate reduction in the capital outstanding of the loans and sales of non-performing businesses of the Group, particularly those in South Africa, be proceeded with, with an agreed time frame.
“The Company agreed to a reduction of the capital of loans in the sum of BWP150million payable as to (1) the amount of BWP 100million by 10 October 2019 and (2) BWP 50million by 30 November 2019, and required that the Founding Shareholders guarantee the payment by the Company of the total aggregate of BWP 150million, on the due dates.” The Choppies Founding Shareholders have agreed to undertake that guarantee and as of the 10th of October 2019, the Company was not able to effect the reduction of capital of the loans outstanding to the Lenders in the sum of BWP 100million.
Accordingly, in terms of the guarantees, the Founding Shareholders effected the payment of BWP100million, Mr Ottapathu effecting a payment of BWP 80 million and Mr Ismail effecting a payment of BWP20million thereof to the agent for the Lenders, thereby causing the outstanding capital balance of the loans due to the Lenders to be reduced by the required BWP 100million, reads the circular.
“The Company and the Founding Shareholders agreed that, subject to compliance by the Company of the requirements of the BSEL, as set forth in the BSE Equity Listing Requirements for a related party transaction based on the size of the contribution made by the Founding Shareholders relative to the size of the Company, the payment of BWP 100million by the Founding Shareholders on behalf of the Company, to the Lenders, in reduction of the capital outstanding to the Lenders, would be considered a loan by them to the Company on the basis that:- such loan would accrue interest at a rate, comparable to current market related rates of interest; the claims of the Founding Shareholders for repayment of the capital of the loan be subordinated to the claims of the Lenders and trade creditors of the Group,” the circular reads.
They further agreed that the capital of the loan will be repayable provided that: a debt reduction plan in respect of the capital outstanding to Lenders has been approved by the Lenders; the Company and CDC are in compliance with the terms of the debt reduction plan including all debt reduction milestones; there is no default by the Company or CDC under facility agreements with the Lenders and the terms of securities granted in favour of the Lenders; no payments of interest or capital are outstanding to Lenders; neither the Company nor CDC are in arrears with any amount due and payable to Lenders; A repayment under the loan can be made from free cash flows which, in this context mean the net cash of the Company and CDC available for distribution after making provision for amounts due to Lenders and trade creditors.
The BSEL has confirmed that the contribution by the Founding Shareholders on behalf of the Company, in reduction of the capital outstanding to the Lenders may be considered a loan, by the Founding Shareholders, and a loan agreement in this regard entered into by the Company and the Founding Shareholders as related parties to the Company, provided that there be an independent professional expert opinion in respect of the fairness and reasonableness of the terms of the loan.
The second instalment in reduction of the outstanding capital of the loans (that of BWP 50million which was due and payable on the 30 November 2019) was paid, in two tranches (with the approval of the Lenders) of BWP 20million on 20 December 2019 and BWP 30million on 14 January 2020, from the resources of the Group generated over the 2019/2020 festive season. The Company and the Lenders are in advanced discussions to agree on a Debt Reduction Plan which is expected to be finalised by the 31 March 2020.
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Local tennis team upbeat ahead of Billie Jean King cup
With almost two weeks until the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup, which will be staged in Kenya from June 12-17, 2023, the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) ladies’ team coach, Ernest Seleke, is optimistic about reaching greater heights.
Billie Jean King Cup, or the BJK Cup, is a premier international team competition in women’s tennis, launched as the Federation Cup to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The BJK Cup is the world’s largest annual women’s international team sports competition in terms of the number of nations that compete.
The finals will feature 12 teams (Botswana, Burundi, Ghana, Kenya, Seychelles, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) competing in the four round-robin groups of three. The four group winners will qualify for the semifinals, and the 2023 Billie Jean King Cup will be crowned after the completion of the knockout phase.
Closer to home, the BW Tennis team is comprised of Thato Madikwe, Leungo Monnayoo, Chelsea Chakanyuka, and Kelebogile Monnayoo. However, according to Seleke, they have not assembled the team yet as some of the players are still engaged.
“At the moment, we are depending on the players and their respective coaches in terms of training. However, I will meet up with Botswana-based players in the coming week, while the United States of America (USA) based player Madikwe will probably meet us in Kenya. Furthermore, Ekua Youri and Naledi Raguin, who are based in Spain and France respectively, will not be joining us as they will be writing their examinations,” said Seleke.
Seleke further highlighted the significance of this competition and how competitive it is. “It is a massive platform for our players to showcase their talent in tennis, and it is very competitive as countries target to get promoted to the world categories where they get to face big nations such as Spain, France, USA, and Italy. Though we are going to this tournament as underdogs because it is our second time participating, I’m confident that the girls will put in a good showing and emerge with results despite the odds,” highlighted Seleke.
Quizzed about their debut performance at the BJK Cup, he said, “I think our performance was fair considering the fact that we were newbies. We came third in our group after losing to North Macedonia and South Africa. We went on to beat Uganda, then Kenya in the playoffs. Unfortunately, we couldn’t play Burundi due to heavy rainfall and settled for the position 9/10,” he said.
For her part, team representative Leungo Monnayoo said they are working hard as they aim to do well at the tourney. “The preparations for the tourney have long begun because we practice each and every day. We want to do well, hence we need to be motivated. Furthermore, I believe in my team as we have set ourselves a big target of coming home with the trophy,” she said.
Pep Stores donates sanitary towels to Popagano JSS
The Guidance and Counseling unit at Popagano Junior Secondary School received a donation of 790 sanitary towels from Pep stores on Thursday.
When presenting the donation, Mareledi Thebeng, the Dinokaneng Area Manager, highlighted their belief in giving back to the community, as their existence depends on the communities they serve. Thebeng pointed out that research indicates one in four girls miss school every day due to the lack of basic necessities like sanitary towels. Therefore, as a company, they strive to assist in alleviating this situation. She expressed hope that this donation would help ensure uninterrupted learning for girls.
Upon receiving the donation on behalf of the students, Charity Sambire, the President of the Student Representative Council, expressed her gratitude. Sambire specifically thanked Pep Store for their generous gift, speaking on behalf of the students, especially the girl child.
She conveyed their sincere appreciation for Pep Store’s compassion and quoted the adage, “Blessed is the hand that gives.” Sambire expressed the students’ hope for Pep Storesâ€™ prosperity, enabling them to continue supporting the students. As a gesture of gratitude, the students pledged to excel academically.
During her speech, Motlalepula Madome, the Senior Teacher in Guidance and Counseling, highlighted that many students at the school come from disadvantaged backgrounds where parents struggle to provide basic necessities. Consequently, some students miss school when they experience menstruation due to this lack.
Madome emphasized the significance of the donation in preventing the girl child from missing lessons and its potential to improve the school’s overall results. She expressed the school’s gratitude and expressed a desire for continued support from Pep Stores.
Popagano Junior Secondary School, situated in the Okavango District, holds the second position academically in the North West region. Despite its location, the school has been dedicated to achieving excellence since 2017
Botswana misses out critical PAP committee meeting
The Pan African Parliament (PAP) committee on gender, family, youth and people with disability in its sitting considered, adopted and recommended to the plenary session the preliminary report on the framework for the model law on gender equality.
According to the last weekâ€™s media release from PAP which is sitting with its various committees until June 2nd,Â the committee is following up the PAP initiative to draw up a model law on gender equality to enable national governments to harmonize, modernize and standardize their legislations to address local needs is set to be discussed in Plenary.
However, what is concerning is the fact that Botswana which is a member state missed the deliberations. Kgosi Mosadi Seboko who sat in the committee representing Botswana has since been ejected by parliament and this is a huge blow for a nation that is still battling equity and gender balance.
â€śAlthough PAP has no legislative powers it makes model laws for member states to adopt. PAP also develops protocols to be ratified by countries. The input of countries at Committee state is extremely critical. It now means the voice of Botswana is missing the discussions leading up to development of protocols or model laws,â€ť said one of Botswanaâ€™s representative at PAP Dr. Kesitegile Gobotswang who is attending the current session.
While Botswana is missing, the committee meeting took place on the sidelines of the Sixth PAP second ordinary Session being held under the African Union Theme of the Year for 2023, â€śThe Year of AfCFTA: Accelerating the Implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Areaâ€ť in Midrand, South Africa and will run up to 2 June 2023. Chairperson of the Committee, Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala expressed satisfaction with preliminary processes undertaken so far towards the formulation of the Model Law,â€ť a release from the PAP website reads.
“The law should be suitable to all countries whatever the predominant culture or religion is. The aim is to give an opportunity to women to participate in the economic, political and social development of the continent. Women are not well positioned and face a lot of obstacles. We are introducing the idea of equity in the Law because we cannot talk about equality without equity,” said Hon Mariam Dao-Gabala in the press statement.
The release has stated that among issues to be covered by the Model Law is the migratory movements of women. The Committee proffered that this has to be addressed at the continental level to ensure that migrant women enjoy all their rights and live with dignity in their destination country. The members of the Gender Committee undertook consultations to consolidate the contributions of the various stakeholders that will be the logical framework format for the Model Law.