Wednesday, October 21, 2020

A bleak look down the hollow BCL shaft

Warren-Dixon is of the view that any activity to have the BCL mine functional would need funding from government adding that it would be for him to see if anything in the private sector would come up in the form of partners who are willing to aid its operation or asserts. 

He added that if there were no opportunities a full winding down scenario would take place.

“My first task is to understand the financial position of the company and also to review very quickly whether there are any short term opportunities to generate some value in the company,” says Warren-Dixon.

He could not state how creditors were going to react to this and what actions they might take to stop the liquidation.

“We are currently making sure how to honour the commitment by government to pay the BCL employees their end-of-October salaries. He added that the government gave him a commitment that if there were insufficient funds then it would assist for the time being,” but could not confirm whether they could pay salaries for the next 14 to 18 months. Warren-Dixon said he did not have the details as he was not part of the meeting when the issue was raised. 

BCL major financial creditors

Dixion-Warren confirmed that the list of outstanding major creditors are Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) for huge power usage and Water Utilities Corporation (WUC) for the mine water supply and employees’ housing accommodations and top commercial banks.

“There are three banks involved which are Barclays Bank Botswana, First National Bank and Standard Chartered Bank Botswana. My team is on the ground assessing what needs to be assessed,” he said.

He stated that he was not sure yet if BCL had security creditors adding that there were also preference creditors which their ranking would be followed as the law requires for payout such as members of staff and BURS, adding that the shareholder had to support him with the information. 

Information reaching Sunday Standard is that over and above the recent government guaranteed P1.2 billion loan from Barclays Bank of Botswana and South Africa’s ABSA Bank, which was be extended to the BCL group, the other creditors include First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) and a P35- million overdraft at Standard Chartered Bank.

“I have to do my own assessment to have up to date information and I am only going to know the status of the creditors when I start receiving claims from the creditors,” said Warren-Dixon.  

He spoke of his role as making sure that that BCL mine asserts were secured and the operations wind down in an orderly manner. He stated that he was looking at the books of the mine to see what cash was available and what amount could be collected to take care of other expenses. 

Warren-Dixon said the date when the court would decide if the company was placed under liquidation would be in February 2017, adding that the period was to allow him to assess whether there were good opportunities.

“This is provisional liquidation; potentially it means it can come out of this provisional liquidation if there is a sufficient business case. This entire process should be done with due diligence to get the best out of this unfortunate situation in the history of Botswana,” he stated. 

 

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