By Bonnie Modiakgotla
Wilderness Holdings just had its best half year results on the back of strong demand for bednights, utilisation of existing assets and the strengthening dollar. The ecotourism company on Monday released its unaudited financial results for the six months ended August 2018.
“The Group produced an excellent half year performance, matching its best ever occupancy rate of 71%, normalised for Governors’, or 67% overall, which is the highest recorded since the acquisition of Governors’. The successful launch of the newly built Mombo, political stability in Kenya, appreciation of the US Dollar since the beginning of the financial year and a strong US market provided tailwinds to significant growth,” the company explained in a commentary accompanying the results.
Wilderness’ revenue was up 11 percent to P780 million boosted by 3 percent rise in bednights sold, a total of 104, 855 nights sold. The company says business is good in the first half of the year, thanks in part to its core market ÔÇô Botswana, which hits peak demand in that period as the pristine Okavango Delta overflows, attracting all sorts of wild animals, much to the satisfaction of the tourists.
The company further noted that the revenue for the period under review represented 65 percent of the total sales for the year ended February 2018, the company’s reporting period for full financials in which they reported a profit of P87 million.
With strong revenue growth, Wilderness also benefitted from the strong dollar, scoring as much as P45 million in foreign exchange gains. This helped smooth the expenses which had spiked 7 percent, ensuring that the tourism outfit reports a strong operating profit at P226.8 million, up by 70 percent from last year’s half year results. In the end, Wilderness scored a nice profit after tax of P159.1 million, a difference of 36 percent from 2017’s corresponding period.
Wilderness operates in several African countries, with all of them except South Africa reporting increases in segment profit. As usual, the company’s home country, Botswana, contributed the most to the group’s profit, raking in about 49.7 percent of total group profit.
Wilderness’ main source market is the Americans, making up 46 percent of tourists, followed by Africa and Middle East (32 percent), Europe and Asia (20 percent), and Australasia at 2 percent.
Wilderness Holdings which is listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange Limited (BSEL) has been of the top performers on the stock exchange, falling in the top 3. The company’s stock is currently trading at P6.11, up by 11 percent since beginning of the year.
Meanwhile Wilderness Holdings finally appointed a new chairman after shareholders spurned its former chairman in the last Annual General Meeting.
The tourism listed company on Friday announced the appointment of Michael Stone as chairman of board of directors following his appointment on October 24. Stone was appointed to the company’s board in July after the investment company he manages acquired a substantial stake in Wilderness Holdings.
Stone’s appointment also comes after shareholders have snubbed Parks Tafa at their annual general meeting after he had offered himself to be re-elected director. Tafa was then in accordance with the constitution retired as a director by rotation with effect from 30 August 2018. Tafa joined the board since Wilderness’s listing in 2010 and became chairman in 2013.
A Harvard graduate, Stone is the founder and managing member of FS Investors. He currently serves as a senior advisor and partner of TPG, a private equity firm. Stone joined Wilderness board after The Rise Fund, managed by TPG Growth, acquired a 34 percent stake in Wilderness, making it the largest single shareholder. The shares were acquired from Wine Investments.
Moreover, Stone’s FS Investors acquired another 24 percent in Wilderness through African Wildlife Holdings.
The Rise Fund is the world’s largest global fund committed to achieving measurable, positive social and environmental outcomes alongside competitive financial returns. The Rise Fund is led by a group of influential thought leaders with a deep personal and professional commitment to driving social and environmental progress. The board includes: Bill McGlashan, TPG Growth Founder and Managing partner; Bono, Jeff Skoll, Mo Ibrahim, Laurene Powell Jobs, Anand Mahindra and Pierre Omidyar.