BTCL IPO date reset again

By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana

The embattled BTCL IPO launch date has not seen the last of its changes yet. The IPO which was initially set for the first one was in August 2011. It was then postponed to 2012, then August 2014, and the again to November 7. Still, it was pushed to December 31st 2014.

However, during a hastily arranged media briefing The Ministry of Transport and Communications (MTC) said it sought “to update the public on the much-anticipated Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) Initial Public Offer (IPO).”

“A number of considerations have necessitated that the IPO, which was scheduled to be opened by the end of 2014, be extended into 2015. The Project Team has been working around the clock to bring this listing to Batswana. What has always been apparent is that the complexities and the sheer magnitude of privatising BTCL is a challenging task. It was thus always an ambitious timeline to conclude before year-end, one that all in the Project nevertheless believed was achievable. However, a number of material steps, including securing the necessary underwriting arrangements, remain to be concluded,” said a representative from the organisation.

BTCL added that “It needs to be noted that one cannot over emphasise the magnitude of the work that has been completed to date along the path to bringing this IPO. The journey to this point has taken many man hours over a number of years. We are confident that the remaining steps will comfortably be achieved in the New Year.”

Throughout this project, explained BTCL “have sought the advice and guidance of all stakeholders. This included our potential investors both as the general public via the much published “di Pitso” and through special workshops where we engaged with potential institutional investors.”

“As we engage with the potential individual investors we are reminded of the core mandate of this IPO; “deliver an IPO that allows maximum potential for citizen participation”.

A deferred IPO opening would have the additional benefit of allowing more Batswana to continue to save to enable them to participate in what will be the most significant listing in the history of Botswana, said the BTCL.

It said that Institutional investors also felt that opening over the holiday break would not allow them enough time to conduct their own internal processes (convening investment committees, seeking board approvals and so forth). “They also felt that as the BTCL IPO was a unique offering for Batswana providing them more time would help in ensuring more participated after the holiday break.

The firefighting message continued by saying “After considering all advice and guidance from our Project team it has been decided that it might be counterproductive to expect the relevant authorities to rush their own processes in our haste to open the IPO this year.”

In the IPO, Government will be offering a total of 49% of the company’s shares of which 44% will be available for purchase by citizens and citizen companies and the remaining 5% will be retained for BTCL employees. This historic IPO is set to enter the bourse underpinned by Government’s strong drive towards citizen empowerment through increasing direct citizen participation in the ownership of national assets.

A new date for the opening of the offer (IPO) will be announced in the New Year. 

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