Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Delay by BTCL to release its prospectus is not funny anymore

“In the local market, it is not uncommon for a prospectus to be released just weeks or even days before the IPO opening” – This is an accession by a local financial analyst who unfortunately could not be drawn into discussing on what could be delaying the release of the soon to be listed BTCL listing prospectus.

As we all might be aware, the privitisation of BTCL and subsequent listing on the local bourse has long been overdue. Sometime in February this year, the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatization Agency (PEEPA) which is tasked with the role of turning state companies into private entities went on record to say the opening of the BTCL IPO will be in August.

“PEEPA encourages citizens and citizen companies to prepare to purchase BTCL shares. The launch of the IPO is scheduled for August 2014 and thereafter the Shares will be listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE).

Currently PEEPA, BTCL and the Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) together with CND consultants have commenced the IPO process. The plan is to launch the IPO by end of August 2014. Following the IPO, BTCL shares will be listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange and citizens are encouraged to purchase the shares in large numbers. A Prospectus will be made available to the public at various points around the country at the time of the IPO launch. The prospectus will detail information on BTCL as well as how to access and purchase the shares.” ÔÇô All these form part of the untruth statement that PEEPA made. We say untruth because to date BTCL is yet to go public. To date BTCL is yet to issue to the market its listing prospectus.

To date no one, and by no one we mean amongst the Batswana who are anticipating to purchase BTCL shares and are aware of the value of the company that they are likely to own. Neither BTCL nor PEEPA is ready to state how much BTCL could be valued at. Of course we do not expect them to say it out just like that. We do however think that by now BTCL should have released at least a preliminary prospectus so as to guide prospective shareholders, most of them whom are not familiar with capital markets.

The current campaign that both PEEPA and BTCL are carrying should have long been carried to allow Batswana to digest what they are being taught at the so called ‘Dipitso’. To be fair, we do understand and at the same time hope that PEEPA and BTCL executives also know that to compile the prospectus of a company like BTCL is not child’s play. This is a company that has since been separated and in the process lost some of its assets and liabilities.

One is forced to ask themselves if maybe the PEEPA internal documents which surfaced and highlighted a corporate governance concerns that the management had during the early stages of the privatization of BTC could still be part of the problem. The problem here we mean the delays to the IPO opening that was initially slated for August and the subsequent delay in the release of the listing prospectus.

Whatever the case is, we just hope that the November 7 ‘promise’ will not pass just like the August one. Our financial analyst are angry to tell prospective markets on how the stock will likely perform on the first day, week. BTCL’s listing is anticipated or as much popular as that of Choppies, as such our financial analysts want to predict and tell prospective investors whether the BTCL stock will likely behave the same way as Choppies or not.

All said and done, there is no doubt thought that the pending trading of BTCL on the BSE presents a rare opportunity for Batswana to stop being economic spectators and become active players even on capital markets. To use one politician’s words, “It is our time to eat.” Batswana who have enough savings should not hesitate and go for the BTCL shares.

At a recent Pitso held in Gaborone, a 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. Of course this was our worry as well. However, the BTCL Chief Executive Officer, Paul Taylor, has since assured the nation 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. That’s commendable Paul. Having worked as business leader in over 60 countries across four continents, Paul has led IPO’s, privatisations and acquisitions and licence bids across the world. We therefore trust that he will help BTC retain its profitability going forward. For now, Paul and his associates should bring forth the prospectus which we believe is due if at all the IPO is indeed opening by November 7.


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