Sunday, October 25, 2020

It does not rain but pours for “Dineo tsa Pula” at the national lottery

The long wait seems to be coming to an end after the national lottery operator was announced this week, and behind the winning team, it’s a motley crew of familiar names, including the retail giant Sefalana Group, which has been making bold moves through consortiums.

On Thursday, Botswana Gambling Authority, established in 2013, finally announced its preferred bidder for the national lottery operator, tapping Grow Mine company trading as “Dineo tsa Pula” to be in charge of the game that can turn a lucky participant into an instant millionaire. The announcement marked an end to a nasty chapter of the hotly contested bidding process in which one of the bidders had interdicted an initial announcement that was planned for March, citing irregularities.

The bid for the first of its kind national lottery operator was flighted in 2017, attracting five companies which showed interest. However, the process of selecting the preferred bidder was complicated by an interdiction from one of the contenders that prevented the regulator from announcing the winner. The challenger had been disqualified during the selection stages but were successful in forcing the Gambling authority to accept the bid which was rejected on the basis that the document was submitted late.

Grow Mine Africa, the company that has now been chosen to run the lottery is a consortium of well known entrepreneurs, a powerful lot that has been described by other bidders as a climb against a slippery slope, given the company’s entrenched vast network that spans corporate and politics. Grow Mine’s main shareholder is Sefalana Group, a listed Botswana Stock Exchange company that plies its trade in fast moving consumable goods (FMCG).

Sefalana’s stake in the company purely set up for the lottery licence is 40 percent, making it the largest individual shareholder. The retailer has invested about P4.5 million in the consortium. For close observers and insiders, the latest move by Sefalana comes as no surprise, with group’s managing director Chandra Chauhan, largely credited for organising the successful bidder given his successful exploits in positioning Sefalana as a diversified group, a feat he has accomplished through strategic consortiums.

Recently, Chauhan delivered another milestone for Sefalana, announcing that they have spent P74 million to purchase a 40 percent interest in Seasons Group, an Australian business with seven supermarkets. Seasons Group is controlled by a consortium of shareholders, many of whom are also consortium members in the South African business in which Sefalana has a preference share interest. In 2017, Chauhan led Sefalana in another deal in which the company spent R250 million to buy into a consortium of companies in the fast-moving consumer goods sector in South Africa.

The other major shareholder in the lottery operator is Colmar Enterprises, which has a 23 percent stake in Gold Mine. Among Colmar’s shareholders are Puma Energy boss Mahube Mpugwa, former president’s nephews Dale Seretse and Marcus Patrick Khama Ter Haar, Botswana Football Association president and entrepreneur Maclean Letshwiti. Yarona Media Holdings’ investors Percy Raditladi and Moatlhodi Lekaukau, Itumeleng Ramsden and Frederick Selolwane.

Top government contractor Pula Consultants owner Carthage Ringo Matlhaga holds 10.3 percent in Grow Mine through Carthlee Inventions Pty Ltd. Popular lawyer Parks Tafa has a 10 percent stake in the lottery winner through Idlehill Pty Ltd.

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