Thursday, September 24, 2020

Bifm “sells” stake in Zambian subsidiary

Botswana Insurance Fund Managers (Bifm) has said its plans of complying with the Zambian regulation of off-loading 21 percent of its stake in African Life Financial Service of Zambia have reached an advance stage.

Bifm has been engaged in a protected battle with the Zambian authorities in the last three years after the latter passed a law in parliament barring foreign owned fund management companies to own more than 49 percent in local companies.

That means Bifm, which owned 70 percent of African Life Financial Services of Zambia (ALFSZ), will have to sell 21 percent stake to make it compliant with the existing Zambian lawsÔÇöaimed at citizen economic empowerment in that country.

Presenting her report on the state of the Group’s finances and operations to the AGM, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Botswana Insurance Holding Limited (BIHL), Regina Sikalesele-Vaka said, “We “continue to deal with the regulatory issue in Zambia, and should be able to find a permanent solution sooner.”

Bifm is the investment arm of BIHL with immovable assets in Botswana, Namibia and Zambia and it is keenly eyeing other countries in the African continent.

Its investments in Zambia include shopping malls in Livingstone and LusakaÔÇöthe biggest and most modern in that country.
It also owns an office space that has been leased out to the likes of United Nations agencies and the country’s biggest mobile phone network company’s headquarters MTN.

Further, it is scouring possibilities of working on PPPs with a number of African countries that are willing to get into partnerships.

Further, it has invested billions of pula in the international markets from the country’s pension and insurance industry.

Sikalesele-Vaka pointed out that as a result of change of laws in that country, it has become necessary that Bifm sells 21 percent of the shares they own in ALFSZ so that they could comply with the laws.

This would leave Bifm with 49 percent of the total shares, while the Zambians are set for the majority 51 percent of the shares.

Although the full details were not divulged, the Sunday Standard has been able to reliably establish that the shares had already been valued by an independent company which will present details of its work to the parties this coming week.

That will prompt the parties to later approach the Zambian financial industry regulators who are expected to make the final decision on the disposal of part of the assets.

The newly amended Citizen Empowerment Act provides that citizens should have a majority shareholding in all companies involved in assets management.

Besides, the AGM also learnt that the Group is continually looking beyond the borders to determine opportunities and for ways to utilise excess capital so that it can maximise returns.
To ensure overall coordination of the business operations as well internal management of the human resource component of the Group companies, it has indicated that deliberate measures are being put in place.

“Going forward, we intend to utilise the BIHL synergy to provide support to subsidiaries for cost effective and operational efficiency,” she said.

RELATED STORIES

Read this week's paper

Masisi creates his own “deep state”?

The government enclave is discussing a new law that will expand the president’s overreach and make it easier for the Directorate of...