Friday, January 22, 2021

Private equity funds get “aggressive” on BOMAID

Southview, a creation of Venture Partners Botswana and BOMAID, raised warning bells in the market this week by offering P 17 million offer in a protected hostile take-over of the ailing Med Rescue International Botswana.

The move signaled a new chapter in the history of MRIB, which might see it being de-listed from the Botswana Stock Exchange as the suitors wanted to take-over the 81.51 percent shares which they do not hold.

In a statement released this week, the suitors said that they are offering 125 thebe per share against 112 thebe price which was the last trading price when the company got suspended from trading in March 28.

“The offer is subject to the condition that they must be validly deposited under the offer and not withdrawn as at the closing date such number of shares that constitute, together with the shares that are held by the offer and its associate BOMAID…” the statement said this week.

The development, which is expected to be signed off in the next five weeks, will herald in SOS International exiting the business while the VPB will be taking the driving seat in trying to charter a new strategy for the company.

“We are trying to find a new strategy for the company and, at the same time, adding the citizen empowerment component to it,” head of VPB, Antony Siwawa, told Sunday Standard on Saturday.
VPB, Bifm and BOMAID have promised to write a multi-million pula cheque in an attempt to wrestle the company from the current shareholders. The three companies are well-renowned and are monied people.

The private equity funds and BOMAID aim to take the remaining shares in what was described as an “aggressive take-over” of the company. However, Bifm and BOMAID have been controlling a bigger stake in the company before the current initiative and both of them have been on the board.

“This makes a lot of sense, if there is a medical services company involved in the current bid. It will own the medical services and medical aid scheme,” one analysts said ahead of the suspension of the company’s trading on the BSE pending the finalization of the deal.

Financial analysts have been skeptical saying that the private equity funds which do not need a lot of compliance rules might decide to pull MRIB from the BSE’s board to avoid the latter’s stringent rules.
MRIB has been a target of hostile and friendly take-over bids for sometime since it fell on its knees partly sparked by the loss of government tender some years back. It hotly contested the issue at the Lobatse High Court but lost, costing itself some hundreds of thousands of pula.

MRI further indicated that a spike in costs was due to the rise of imports sourced from USA through South Africa, 14 percent retainer fee hike for the company’s aircraft and an aggressive recruitment of paramedic targeted at enhancing the performance of its core business.

However, it said it has embarked on a comprehensive plan aimed at improving its bottom line. Some of the initiatives include an aggressive cost cutting plan, the launch of the Zebra Card and the planned telemedicine product that come to the market next year.

“A new initiative in Telemedicine will be launched in the new year that will significantly improve the capabilities of the emergency medical service personnel as well as provide opportunities for the company with the general health sector.
“Our emergency service has further been enhanced by the purchase of a neonatal intensive care incubator which places MRI in the unique position of being the only service provider that can safely transport neonates,” MRI said.

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