Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Citizen shareholders express disquiet ahead of the KBL/Sechaba GM

Citizen minority shareholders in the Botswana Stock Exchange listed Sechaba Brewery Holdings which is a holding company for Kgalagadi Breweries Limited have expressed anxiety that a South African company is planning to stage a stealth takeover of the company without according other shareholders, especially citizens and Botswana based pension funds an opportunity to also purchase or increase their stakes.

Sechaba was created as an investment vehicle to give Botswana citizens an opportunity to invest into KBL the majority of which was at the time owned by the giant SABmiller.

SABMiller, at the time also enjoyed total control of the local offshoot, control that was further consolidated by a management contract.

Under the management contract, only SABMiller could appoint from its ranks the managing director and also the finance director.

Botswana Government, through its investment arm, the Botswana Development Corporation (BDC) had at the time owned a substantial shareholding and also double voting rights.

Botswana Government position of strength inside the company has however over time been steadily eroded by a decision to sell a portion of BDC shareholding.

Minority citizen holders are arguing that a decision to reduce BDC shareholding has to not only diminished Government control, but has also outflanked them as citizens as they are now vulnerable against the South Africans.

“This effectively goes against the Botswana Government policy on citizen economic empowerment,” said one of them who said they are considering writing to BSE to consider further halting the General Meeting scheduled for this week.

The company is currently undergoing a major shareholder restructuring following the takeover of SABmiller by AB-Inbev.

A key concern expressed by small shareholders, including to the local bourse is that not all information is being honestly communicated ÔÇô in both the published cautionary and also in the prospectus.

That at one point led to the General Meeting being postponed and further information being issued.

Initially the meeting was scheduled for September 14, before being moved to the 27th of the same month.

But still minority holders have not being placated.

They are questioning the true intents of the South African majority shareholder, arguing that the quest to further consolidate their hold is ominous, especially since it defeats the Botswana Government policy to have a say in the company ÔÇô directly through BDC and also through citizen shareholders.

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