Botswana Public Officers Pension Fund’s (BOPOPF) termination of Fleming Asset mandate in the development of the multi-million Pula Hilton Hotel would not in any way impact on the completion date of the project and its budget. The project has since been handed to another company called Messidor, which will oversee the project to its completion. The P300 million hotel is being developed at the new Central Business District in Gaborone and is expected to be operational sometime next year. Despite change in project management, BPOPF Principal Officer Boitumelo Molefe said everything is going well and has not had any deviations, save for minor challenges that a project of that magnitude can face. She said the project is still within its budget and they have already carried out a financial audit to determine such. Molefe was briefing the media on Tuesday where she was giving an update on the recent events at the Fund. “Between last year and end of February we have been working on a transition from Fleming Asset Management. We started with the listed equities and bonds and any other listed instruments and then for the Hilton Hotel we needed to take our time because as you can imagine, a development project such as this one which is quite complex and quite a large project has got building covenants, agreements and construction team in place,” Molefe said.
For the above mentioned reasons, Molefe said they therefore needed to take their time in ensuring that there are no contractual risks to transition. She said they are now satisfied with the way things have gone and starting from Wednesday this week, Messidor will be managing the Hilton project on behalf of BPOPF. “At this stage we have now fully transitioned from Fleming Asset Management, so the company no longer has any involvement with BPOPF at this stage”. It is expected that the project team currently in place will not be changed and the only change is project management in the mentioned firms. The pension fund is also looking for a new asset consultant as the current consultant contract has ran out and has been engaged on month-by-month extension. The new contract is expected to be awarded by the 31st May this year. BPOPF has been getting such services from a South African company known as Novare which was first engaged in February 2013 for an initial period of two years.Molefe said the fund cannot do without an asset consultant as they advise on key investment matters.
“Being a defined contribution fund, our core competence is to invest on behalf of our members and in terms of expertise an investment consultant is a very important partner in this role that we play,” she said, explaining that the fund would not have such expertise in-house. Molefe said so far in their four year relationship with Novare has worked well with the Fund and have developed strategies that they feel are very robust. “It is our belief that still as we are going out to tender and even if there was a change in asset consultancy, there is no risk to our operations because asset consultant themselves offer the same type of skills and services,” she said, assuring members and stakeholders that what the fund is doing is the right thing in terms of corporate governance. The BPOPF, according to the Principal Officer, is a big player in the local economy and therefore needs to be transparent in its dealings and also give other players an opportunity if they fit the requirements.