Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Sanlam baffled by Vaka’s punchy statement

Sanlam, one of South Africa’s leading fund management firms, says it is utterly surprised by┬áaccusations made by┬áthe former Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL), Regina Sikalesele ÔÇôVaka, during her farewell in Gaborone.

“Sanlam is surprised by the allegations made against it by the outgoing group chief executive of BIHL,”┬áLulu Letlape, Sanlam’s Head of Corporate Affairs, said.

“We will be discussing the matter with the Board of BIHL. Meanwhile, Sanlam is committed to the principles of good corporate governance and building a sustainable business in Botswana that benefits all BIHL stakeholders, including staff, clients, shareholders and the communities we serve,” Letlape said.

In her swan song speech as the head of BIHL, Sikalesele ÔÇôVaka said Sanlam, which owns 53 percent of┬áthe Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) quoted outfit, has embarked on a “systematic release of excess┬ácapital by declaring dividends” that┬áare likely to affect the future┬ágrowth of the company.

BIHL is the biggest contributor to Sanlam balance-sheet and has over the years built surplus cash that currently stands at P 1 billion.

“BIHL has a strong balance-sheet, which is a major strength of the company. The systematic┬áremoval of capital will weaken BIHL balance-sheet and will ultimately weaken BIHL as a company,” she said at her farewell party held at the GICC.

However, her speech shocked most of the people but it got a lot of support from most of the top management at BIHL and its subsidiaries.

She was applauded for being brave at a time when the company is losing a lot of people at top management due to frustration.

She said BIHL, which manages over P 17 billion of Batswana money through its subsidiaries, should be focusing on stimulating the domestic economic growth rather than using much of the funds to develop other countries.

Further, she pointed out that Sanlam is┬áalso engaged in┬ásome practices that┬áare geared towards crowding out┬áBIHL in most of the┬áAfrican market thus limiting the prospects of BIHL’s future income streams.

“Sanlam does not allow its subsidiaries to expand into the rest of Africa as they would be in direct competition with Sanlam. The expansion will be done by Sanlam through appropriate partnerships to prevent leakages to minorities.”

“Sanlam gave┬áBIHL an undertaking in 2008, but┬ádespite that, Sanlam has expanded into Malawi, Uganda, and Nigeria and has plans to expand into several other countries in Africa,” she charged.

“My views were so strong that they earned me an invitation from Sanlam representatives to remove myself from my job as it was clear that I did not support Sanlam vision,” she added.

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