Friday, June 21, 2024

LLR board member pulls the rug under its feet

Board member of Letlole La Rona (LLR), said on Wednesday that he is cutting ties—with LLR — and current company that he represents. He is also dumping shares at LLR.

Oteng Keabetswe, who served as non-executive board member and chairman- at different intervals– and very instrumental in the investment committee said he has now joined the London Stock Exchange listed company, Grit Real Estate Management Group.

Grit is also listed on Mauritius Stock Exchange and Johannesburg Stock Exchange.

Grit, ended up with a 30 percent shareholding after share swap with Botswana Development Corporation (BDC), back in 2019.

BDC has a stronghold of 40 percent in LLR and the other significant shareholder is Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund.

Grit started selling its shares in LLR from last year through to February this year.

“Our board embarked on a strategic review and found out that LLR were non -core assets that why we are selling,” Keabetswe said referring to Grit, from his new office in Mauritius.

“We want assets that their rentals are based either in US dollar or Euro. We have raised US $ 20 million (about P 260 million) from that exit, and another Euro 50 million ( P714 million ) from  Beachcomber in Mauritius,” he added.

Beachcomber owns several luxurious resorts in Mauritius.

In the last trade on March 8, 2023, the company made Grit praise itself for having made sale of 6,421,000 share on Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE), which amounted to P 22.5 million or US $ 1.7 million.

This was hot on the heels of another sale in December and February this year in which a sale they raised almost US $ 9 million.

“In the bigger scheme of things, LLR is small entity is valued at P 1.2 billion while Grit is valued at US $ 1.3 billion (about P 17 billion.  It is spread over 12 African countries.

Keabetswe who was sitting on the board of LLR on behalf of BDC resigned from the latter in April last year.

The two companies have a joint venture in Nairobi, Kenya in a company called Orbit Africa Logistics where LLR holds 30 percent of shares. It had a provision to increase its stake to 50 percent by end of last year but decided not to take the offer.

“It all amounts to insider trading. In the normal course of things there should have been a clause saying no one should poach from another,” an anonymous corporate governance guru said.

LLR chief executive officer Kamogelo Mowaneng, insisted that Keabetswe made the disclosure but did not say whether or not he recused himself on matters involving Grit.

Corporate governance guru said Keabetswe’s move are scary at the least, but most importantly illegal.

On Wednesday Keabetswe told Sunday Standard that he is leaving the board of LLR.

“I have informed the board of LLR that I am resigning,” he said.

He was the highest paid board member at LLR netting over P 573 ,000 per annum for attending 12 meetings over 12 days in a year. The company spent over P 2.7 million in board member sitting fees during the period ending last December- nearly four times its peers in listed companies in the property market.

Keabetswe also surprised the financial markets by resigning from the board of Access Bank Botswana three months into the board. He was nominated on February 12, 2023 and resigned on March 3, 2023. His appointment was not  announced as per Bank of Botswana’s  code.


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