Botswana: Africa’s Longest Running Privatisation Process goes into 2016

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

The part-privatisation of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL) is set to be postponed once again, with the country’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) recommending that the current deadline of December 2015 be pushed back. According to a report from state news agency BOPA, there have been unspecified ‘challenges’ to the sale process.

Earlier this year Botswana’s Minister of Transport and Communications, Tshenolo Mabeo, said the delays in the planned initial public offering (IPO) in the fixed line operator were due in part to problems with the transfer of infrastructure from BTCL to national networks firm BoFiNet. Mabeo said that the original ‘Possession and Use’ agreement, which was due to be signed in November 2014 ahead of the planned IPO the following month, was not ‘fit for purpose’. A new Possession and Use document was eventually signed on 4 March 2015, transferring all BTCL infrastructure to state-owned BoFiNet, which was established in 2012 to take over the running of the country’s telecoms networks, with BTCL acting purely as a service retailer.

Having initially been planned for 2011, the sale first ran into problems in 2012, before an IPO was cancelled in August 2014. The offer was then rescheduled for 7 November, but problems with the sale of shares to employees caused yet another postponement to end-December, but this date too was missed. 44% of BTC’s shares will be available for purchase by individual investors and Batswana companies, while 5% will be reserved for the telco’s employees through an Employee Share Ownership Programme (ESOP). The remaining 51% will be retained by the government.
Source: telegeography 13 December 2015