BTCL: An unmissable opportunity

Before the end of the year, the Ministry of Transport and Communications will broadly circulate a prospectus detailing an offer of 352 million shares in Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) to Batswana.

Government is selling 44 percent of its stake in BTCL and giving Batswana exclusive rights to the sale. Each of the shares will be sold for P1 and although the prospectus is not out yet, a minimum investment threshold of 100 shares in likely to be set.

This means one needs not much more than just P100 to become a shareholder in BTCL.

This is truly an unmissable opportunity to hold equity in a company powered by government as the majority shareholder. The BTCL’s privatisation represents the first direct sale of equity in a State Owned Entity (SOE) to Batswana and the decision to invest should be taken seriously.

According to the Botswana Stock Exchange 2014 Annual Report, local individuals’ contribution to the bourse’s turnover stood at partly five percent in the year, down from eight percent in 2013.

For some Batswana that might have always felt disenfranchised from the mainstream economic activities, the BTCL shares sale could be the ideal window for one to participate in the investment markets, where many local individuals have, for one reason or another, often shied away from.

The prospectus to be published soon will provide details on the BTCL’s historical, current and future financial performance, as well as its assets and liabilities, the qualifications of senior staff and growth opportunities. Batswana will read for themselves and should they need advice in making the decision to invest, the Botswana Stock Exchange, its brokers and the ministry are available to lend a helping hand.

In an economy where parastatals are known for bleeding heavy losses, BTCL has over the years stood shoulders high above its peers.

Even after the separation of the company’s network infrastructure backbone to form BoFINET in 2012, BTCL has continued to perform well posting a profit of P273.6 million in 2013.

Aside of blue chips such as FNBB, Barclays, Choppies and Letshego, no other listed counters generate net profits in the range of BTCL. This increases the chances of a regular healthy dividend payout as well as capital gains due to the attractiveness of the company’s revenue profile.  We also welcome government’s pronouncements that an allotment committee will be set up to ensure an equitable distribution of the shares.  A scenario where the majority of the BTCL shares end up in the hands of only a financially able few would fly in the face of the whole purpose of privatisation and citizen empowerment.

We therefore call on the responsible authorities to put in place measures that would hold, even the allotment committee to the highest ethical standards.

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