Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Private equity funds take lion’s share in MRIB

The charging tigers of the modern economy, private equity funds, have pounced on Med Rescue International Botswana (MRIB), on Friday leaving the field play to be leveled sometime this week.

Venture Partner Botswana, Botswana Insurance Fund Management’s private equity fund, worked along side with BOMAID to a fresh stake of MRIB in a bid to remain the biggest stakeholders in the company.

At the time of going to press, the three suitors were engaged in a meeting which was aimed at stitching the deal that is supposedly expected to result in the signing of a multi-million pula cheque write off one of the key shareholders, notably SOS, from the books of the company.

Bifm and BOMAID are some of the longest standing shareholder of the estranged emergency medical services company which has been bleeding money over the last three-to- four years.

“The deal is going according to the plan and we hope that it will be closed by next week,” VPB strongman, Antony Siwawa, indicated to Sunday Standard earlier in the week.

Sunday Standard understands that the Friday meeting was just one of those formalities and was to sketch plan of drawing a cheque to the existing shareholders but the question that remained was whether the company would be pulled out of the Botswana Stock Exchange board.

The private equity funds and BOMAID aim to take about 35.8 percent of the company in a fresh move against 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 analyst 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-overs for sometime since it fell on its knees partly sparked by the loss of government tender some years ago. It hotly contested the issue at the Lobatse High Court but lost, costing itself 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 Zebra Card and the planned telemedicine product that comes 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 with 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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The Telegraph September 23

Digital edition of The Telegraph, September 23, 2020.