Saturday, March 25, 2023

BTCL annual meeting to iron out a few creases

The Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) will tomorrow hold its maiden Annual General Meeting (AGM) post listing at the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE). 

Key amongst the issues to be discussed and decided upon at the AGM is the Trust Deed for employees of the company. 

The anticipated debate follows an alteration of the initial Employee Share Trust (the “Trust”) to Employee Share Ownership Plan (ESOP). BTCL employees were previously not permitted to dispose of the 5 percent shares and the dividend pay-out was structured such that they were payable into the Trust following which distribution by Trustees would be done in terms of the Trust Deed. 

The Trust had initially been under the management of trustees appointed by BTCL on behalf of employees. However, BTCL in May this year said that the ESOP would allow employees to directly own BTCL shares and permit them full voting and profit participation rights, together with the ability to buy and sell shares as distinct to the limited ownership rights in terms of the original Trust.

Amongst other things the AGM will also discuss the imminent departure of its board chairperson Daphne Matlakala who has served for only three years. Matlakala’s departure was first made public knowledge early this month, a few months after the departure of the former managing director Paul Taylor. 

Although it is not yet clear why Matlakala has decided not to seek a re-election despite her eligibility, sources close to Megaleng House told The Sunday Standard early this month that the outgoing board chairperson had been “inactive and out of touch lately”. 

Matlakala was appointed as BTCL board chair before its listing by the then Minister for Transport and Communications Nonofo Molefhi in mid-2014, replacing Len Makwinja who later joined BancABC. 

She is a founding partner at Malebeswa-Matlakala Legal Consultants. She is also a founding member of the Women’s Finance House and Women and Law in Southern Africa Research Project Botswana Trust. She has also previously served as the Deputy Attorney General and Secretary for Legislative Drafting.

Meanwhile, the AGM is also expected to endorse the arrival of the former CEO at First National Bank Botswana (FNBB), Lorato Boakgomo-Ntakhwana, who will be coming into the board as a non-executive director. 

Boakgomo-Ntakhwana’s name is expected to be put up together with that of another businessman, Mclean Letshwiti, for consideration by shareholders. Letshwiti was recently elected President of the Botswana Football Association (BFA).  

Apart from the appointment of the non-executive directors, the BTCL shareholders are expected to endorse the appointment of Anthony Masunga as Acting Chief Executive following the departure of Taylor. 

The telecommunication giant reported in July 2016 that it had swung to a P371-million loss from a profit of P147 million recorded in 2015. The poor run by the BSE-quoted company has been attributed to impairments exercise that the company experienced during the year that ended March 31, 2016.

Golekanye Molapisi, BTCL Public Relations Manager, confirmed the upcoming AGM on Friday noting that contrary to some schools of thought, the company had a solid strategy underpinned by a history of consistently returning great value to the shareholder. 

“From its early days as the only telecommunications service provider in the nation to being the first and only publicly listed network operator owned by Batswana, BTC will this Monday record another  first  by  hosting  an AGM with a shareholding base  exceeding P50 000,” Molapisi said.


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