Tuesday, September 28, 2021

The Arabs still “interested” in BCL but reluctant to name their price

The Botswana government has up to 13 July 2017 to accept or reject a new and final “offer to purchase” of the BCL mine by the Emirates Investment House (EIH), a confidential letter addressed to the government, through the minister of Minerals Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang shows. 

Sunday Standard is in possession of a letter, dated 13 June 2017 from the EIH chairman, Dr Abdulla Mangoosh which details new conditions under which the Emirates based company will acquire selected assets of the BCL Group. The letter gives the Botswana government a period of 30 days from 13 June 2017 to decide failure of which, “we reserve our rights to rescind this offer”. 

It also instructs the Botswana government to ensure that details of the discussions surround BCL assets remain closely guarded. “There shall be no public information to be provided to the media or other non government related parties without express written consent of EIH. This offer shall remain to be strictly private and confidential upon all parties” 

The EIH offer letter has atleast six new conditions/demands by the Arabs amongst them the need by the Botswana government to undertake and procure any licenses, permits and approvals required by the company to re-start the operations of the BCL Limited mines. 

The letter further state that the new offer is binding upon EIH, with the provisions that a new set of agreements be entered with relevant parties representing the government of Botswana or appointed by the Courts of Botswana. 

At the same time, EIH is said to be demanding that all the assets that it is to be purchased “are to be free from encumbrances whatsoever, contingent and otherwise. All existing liabilities must either be taken under the debt acquisition exercise or to be absorbed by other parties without any recourse to EIH”. 

Another demand by the EIH relates to incidental costs such as “care and maintenance” which under the new offer letter will be borne by the Botswana Government until the sale and purchase agreement entered becomes unconditional. 

Meanwhile in response to the EIH demands, minister of Minerals Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security, Sadique Kebonang stated that, “a quick read of the letter is that it lacks the specifics of what should be contained in an offer to make it worth considering. For example, it doesn’t identify the properties sought to be bought nor does it state the price offer for such identified assets”. 

Kebonang further informed the EIH chairman that he has since passed his offer letter to the liquidator for assessment. 

BCL was placed under provisional liquidation in October 2016 after the government said it could not afford the 7 billion pula ($685 million) needed to keep the company running. Two weeks back, a High Court in the capital Gaborone granted an order placing the Selebi Phikwe mine in final liquidation. 

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