Sunday, July 3, 2022

Letshego refute ‘takeover’ speculation

The country’s top microlender Letshego has shot down speculation that it is in a negotiation with a potential buyer that is seeking a stake in one of the most profitable companies in Botswana.

On Friday, the lender that was incorporated in 1998 and listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange in 2002, said it was aware of the speculation that exists in the market that the company is in negotiations with a third party in the region to give effect to an unsolicited offer to acquire a portion of the ordinary share capital of the company.

“The company hereby unequivocally refutes the speculation and would like to advise shareholders that, whilst the Company was recently approached by a third party in the region, the approach did not materialise into a firm intention to make an offer. Therefore, the Board confirms that there are currently no ongoing negotiations between the company and any third party to acquire a portion of ordinary share capital of the company,” Letshego’s board of directors said in a statement released on Friday.

The board disclosed that should a firm intention to make an offer be received, it will consider the offer in the interests of shareholders and address the offer as prescribed in the takeover regulations of the Botswana Stock Exchange.

“The Board will issue all necessary announcements in accordance with the applicable listing rules. Shareholders are advised not to rely on any information other than information disclosed formally by the company,” part of the statement read.

The speculation comes at a time when one of Letshego’s main shareholder is undergoing structural changes. Botswana Insurance Holdings (BIHL) through its wholly owned subsidiary Botswana Life Insurance is the biggest shareholder in Letshego with a 27.9 percent stake. On the other hand, BIHL is majority owned by South African financial behemoth Sanlam Group which holds 58 percent of the BIHL’s shares.

Last week BIHL shares were briefly halted from trading by Botswana Stock Exchange as they waited for the company to update the shareholders about a deal involving its major shareholder. The country’s biggest life insurer’s shares were allowed to trade same day after the company informed the markets that Sanlam, the parent company, has entered into an agreement with Allianz SE, a global integrated financial services group listed in the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in Germany, to form a joint venture.

If successfully concluded, and subject to all regulatory approvals, the venture could create a leading Pan-African financial services group with an extensive footprint across the African continent, the statement said.

“The transaction does not have any bearing on the operations of BIHL as the ultimate control of the Group would remain with Sanlam, however the BIHL’s ultimate beneficiaries’ landscape would change due to the introduction of minority ownership by Allianz SE,” said BIHL in the statement.

Letshego is currently the top performing stock on the domestic market, with share price up by 25 percent since the beginning of the year. BIHL’s stock has gained 0.29 percent in the same period.

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