April 7 2010: As Botswana companies look to expand into markets in Africa, synergies have been proposed to make doing business easier in some of the unpredictable markets on the continent.
Already, top companies in retail, asset management, financial services and insurance industries have found home in some African countries.
“Synergies give the opportunity to understand what the other party is looking for,” Victor Senye, Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL) Head of Property told The Telegraph.
However, there are risks inherent in expanding to other markets, be it legislation, tax amendments or difficulties in registering a bond.
“Botswana companies should work together as we enter these markets. We believe we can bring our knowledge like it is happening in Namibia and Zambia.
Public and private companies, including Cash Bazaar Holdings, GH group, Woolworths, Letshego and now Choppies have hoisted Botswana’s flag in the region.
“I draw comfort from torch bearers”.
On its own, Bifm is using Sanlaam’s presense in the region to target expansion across Africa.
Senye said retailers, like Choppies, might want to use its partners’ property space as it expands its network in the Zambian markets where BIHL has presence.
BIHL is said to have invested over P200 million on property in Zambia alone.
If there were synergies, other retailers like Cash Bazaar might find easier to get land where other Botswana companies because of the connections established.
Bifm has had its fair share of unpredictability of some of the African markets with a new legislation in Zambia, where it operates with local partners there.
A new pension fund legislation in that jurisdiction states that citizens should own 51 percent of the businesses in the sector, meaning that Bifm has to sell stake to meet the requirements.
Senye is expected to fly into Lusaka on April 8 to see that they regularise per the new the Pensions Regulation Amendment Act and sell stake to Zambian investors in Life Financial Services (Aflife).
Prior to the new legislation, which came years after Bifm set up in that market, the asset manager held 70 percent.
The oldest asset manager in the country was given end of March to change shareholding structure after discussions with Pensions Regulatory Authority hit a snag.