Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Citizen shareholding in BTCL will re-energise economy

Understanding the intricacies of the capital markets is not the easiest of undertakings, but quoting names from the Forbes richest persons list might be helpful. Thus when the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) started its public education campaign about the shares it is about to float, the emcee noted that “people like Warren Buffet made lots of money through the stock exchange.”

Buffett, an American who is one of the wealthiest man on earth, is a shrewd investor who started investing at the tender age of 10 and is widely recognised as the most successful investor of the 20th century. Next month, BTCL floats 49 percent of its shares and citizens are being invited to invest. Speaking at the BTCL IPO pitso, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Nonofo Molefi said that if citizens invested in the BTCL stock in large enough numbers, the economy will be re-energised.

“That will also help grow the telecommunications industry in Botswana,” he said.

Concern was expressed from the floor during the question-and-answer session that the deep-pocketed may buy up all the shares at the expense of the small man. However, the BTCL Chief Executive Officer, Paul Taylor, assured the audience that “a committee has been set up to maximise distribution of the shares across the application base.” This is to ensure that the shares reach as many citizens as possible.

All told, 49 percent of the shares will be floated to citizens, with 5 percent being reserved for BTCL employees. Taylor said that the condition with regard to the latter is that one must be an employee at the date of offer close. For those who may not be sure about the company venturing into alien territory booby-trapped with risks, the BTCL CEO gave the assurance that the company’s long-term financial outlook is positive.

“There is a significant opportunity for BTCL to continue building a profitable and sustainable business that is better able to support Botswana’s economic development now and beyond,” Taylor said.

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