Yet another date for BTCL IPO

By John Churu, Gaborone, Bostwana

This looks set to be the final curtain to the much awaited Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) Initial Public Offering (IPO) launch. In the very latest development to the privatisation saga, the Minister of Transport and Communications said the long awaited Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) Initial Public Offering (IPO) will be settled before the end of this year.

Speaking at a press briefing, Minister Tshenolo Mabeo said Batswana should come on board to have a stake in the first ever IPO deal in Botswana, from the BTCL.

“Come on board and buy shares as Batswana and have a stake in running of BTCL and see your involvement turn BTCL into a profitable company, a prosperous company and we can only have this happening if Batswana come on board,” he told reporters.

H explained that even though there had been postponements before; he was eager to pronounce to Batswana that the launch of the IPO would indeed take place before the end of this year.

“This will be a historic event in Botswana in the sense that it will be the first time government extends a hand to Batswana to be part of BTCL in the sense of owning a part of it,” he said.

Mabeo indicated that the press had a big role in being the vehicle that the ministry along with the team tasked with delivering the IPO to Botswana will use in reaching and educating Batswana about the IPO.

“We have a component within this team that will solely be tasked with making sure that Batswana are well educated and aware of what the IPO is, and parallel to the launch of the IPO, they will be criss-crossing the country to ensure that each and every Motswana who is capable of buying shares at BTCL will not be compromised,” said Minister Mabeo, adding that there was a dedicated budget for this.

In a rather cautious tone, the Minister said the day the IPO is launched; “it would take approximately eight weeks for people to show their interest in purchasing shares.”

There will be 49 per cent of the BTCL shares availed by the government that will be sold to citizens of Botswana. In his media address, Minister Mabeo indicated that of that 49 per cent, 5 per cent will be reserved for BTCL citizen employees and there will be a fund that will administer these shares to the employees.

For his part, Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) chief executive officer, Kgotla Ramaphane said they were working on the preparation of the prospectus.

“A prospectus, as it relates to an IPO, is a legal document which contains pertinent information about a company that enables one to make an informed decision as to whether or not to purchase the shares of that company. Information such as BTCL's mandate, products, markets and past operational and financial performance, its future strategies, plans and projections, as well as the value of the company, the number of shares on offer, the price of the shares, the minimum quantity one can purchase will all be in there.”

In the same vein, the BTCL Managing Director, Paul Taylor, said previous reports in the media attributing some comments to him saying he called for yet another postponement of the IPO launch were serious misquotes.

“My comments were greatly misquoted and I want to say that I am behind the launch of the IPO before the end of this year because we have always been working towards the December date,” he said. 

The BTCL IPO has been on the drawing board for longer than anticipated after the news of the offer broke many months ago. However, according to a PEEPA prospectus, the anticipated benefits of the IPO include: Citizen Empowerment and Citizen Entrepreneurship, Ownership of BTCL with potential for financial gain, Self wealth generation, Greater understanding of and participation in economic activity, Greater potential for sustainable growth for the business.

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