BOTSWANA’S BTC POSTS USD23 MILLION PROFIT

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) has announced a profit of P139 million (USD23 million), 18% more than the P118 million the corporation made in 2005.

BTC is extremely pleased with its financial results, which exceeded expectations, showing strong revenue growth, continued profitability, and significant cash flow, the company's Chief Executive Officer, Vincent Seretse noted at a press Briefing on Tuesday adding that a cheque of P34.7 million has been declared to BTC's main shareholder, the Botswana government.

"We introduced a number of new and innovative products and services and continued to provide more effective ways for engaging with our customers. Our ongoing ability to execute against plan and utilise our industry leading technology continues to position us for long-term growth and enables us to provide our customers with best services and most relevant experience" Seretse said.

For the period ending March 31, 2006, BTC's operating costs increased by 4% or P25 million from P544 million to P565 million.

Regarding the debt to equity BTC posed a healthy, stronger balance sheet showing improved debt equity of 25% from 32% of the previous year indicating an improvement of 7%. "This means that BTC can comfortably meet short and long term obligations."

Seretse said BTC started tariff re-balancing in 2003 in agreement with the regulator Botswana Telecommunications Authority in line with government objectives of improving efficiency and opening up the market for competition and widening access to telecommunications services.

BTC and BTA have agreed on tariff changes in the voice telephony business of BTC for implementation in October of 2003 to 2007. "Telephone line rental and local call charges must be increased and most international calling rates must decrease" said Seretse.

Despite market perceptions, BTC tariff's are competitive in comparison with local and regional Telecommunications Company, the CEO noted. BTC's international tariffs have been reduced significantly up to 55% in 2005 with limited increase in volumes. Seretse announced that with effect from October BTC will implement its new tariffs which have already been approved by BTA.

The Corporation Seretse further noted is ready for privatisation which is being done in accordance with the privatisation master plan through which the government moves ownership by government to private sector ownership.

The main reasons for privatising BTC is to create a BTC that supports the government Information and Communication Technology vision and to have efficient and cost effective delivery of telecommunication services in Botswana.

BTC is to be privatised through, sale of 40-49% of BTC equity to strategic equity partner, 5% of shares to citizen employees and 15-25% privatisation trust fund while 25-30% would be retained to be sold at a later date.

The Voice