Scramble looms for BTCL shares

SHARE   |   Sunday, 31 August 2014   |   By Kabelo Adamson
Scramble looms for BTCL shares

With fears mounting that big business and the wealthy were primed to buy the bulk of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) shares, the privatisation agency insists all efforts are being pursued to ensure that majority of citizens benefit. 

Public Education Manager at Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) Mosikare Mogegeh says his agency is exploring all the avenues to ensure that shares do not end up in the hands of a few individuals. BTCL is due to list on the BSE soon.

“A share allotment strategy, which will ensure that all citizens are  given equal opportunity to buying these shares will be put in place,” Mogegeh said, adding that the strategy may, by its nature, limit shares per individual or company so that as many as possible can participate. Notwithstanding an allotment strategy which will ensure an even distribution of shares, the limit per individual or company will be based on the level of interest and subscription to the shares during the Initial Public Offering (IPO).

The transition process to list BTCL on the BSE can be traced back to November 2012 when Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) was converted from a statutory body into a public company limited by shares and renamed BTCL with equity shares owned by the government.

This week stakeholders involving PEEPA, BTCL and the Ministry of Transport and Communication were finalising the IPO process which will result in listing of 49 percent of BTCL shares on the local stock exchange to be held by Batswana or Batswana-owned companies.

According to Mogegeh, the plan was to launch the IPO by end of August with shares available for purchase in November later this year. The arrangement is that the government will offer 49 percent of the shares with 44 percent being offered to the public while the remaining five percent will be set aside for BTCL employees.

To ensure  that potential investors are not left behind about the IPO of BTCL as well as the ultimate shares on the BSE, Mogegeh noted that, “PEEPA, together with other stakeholders have developed a comprehensive communication strategy which will ensure that the public, all around  Botswana are aware of the  IPO of the shares.”

“The intention is that the shares do not end up in the hands of a few individuals, but rather they are held as widely as possible by Batswana,” said Mogegeh about giving all the citizens an equal opportunity of owning part of BTCL.

BTC was established in 1980 through an act (BTC Act) with a mandate to provide, develop, operate and manage Botswana’s national and international telecommunications service. In 1996, an amendment Act repealed the monopoly of BTC and introduced other service providers in the telecommunications arena.

In 2000, a privatisation policy was adopted through which the government intended to implement a change programme to improve efficiency and competitiveness of the public sector.