Wednesday, October 21, 2020

BTCL withholds dividend, kick-start new strategy

While during the financial year that ended March 2020, BTCL paid its shareholders nearly P100 million, there shall be no dividend paid during the second half of the year.

The main reason, according to the board chairperson – Lorato Boakgomo-Ntakhwana is Covid 19.

“Though the Board recognises the importance of dividends to our shareholders, due to uncertainties presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Board has opted not to declare a final dividend for the second half of the year,” the company said in the annual report.

Available figures shows that amid the steady decline in profitability and the stock  value, the BSE quoted teleco’s dividends paid to shareholders have also decreased over the years, might not be trickling as usual in future.

BTCL Managing Director – Anthony Masunga says that the telecommunications market in Botswana has been and is still characterized by increased competition, downward pressure on tariffs and the entry of non-telecommunications players in their type of business.

“We measure our performance, taking into consideration the economic environment, market structure and industry trends, as these exert significant influence on any business,” he said.

The fall in dividends paid to BTCL shareholders over the past three years are also down to the company’s weakening bottom-line. In 2017 when the telco registered profit after tax of P237 million, it paid out P90.3 million in dividends, and when profitability fell to P217 million in 2018, BTCL shelled out P155.6 million to investors. Profit further declined to P162 million in 2019, with dividends paid out also falling to P139 million for that year. The P98 million dividend forked by BTCL for this year is the lowest since the company listed, equally reflecting the record low profit of P106 million for the financial year ended March 2020.

The company management says they are looking to continue to realign the business strategy with organic growth opportunities and the pursuit of new sources of growth.

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