BOTSWANA TELCO INCUMBENT HOPES FOR SELL-OFF PLAN APPROVAL

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Botswana's state-owned telephone monopoly hopes the southern African country will approve plans next month to privatise the business, which could happen within three years, its head said on Thursday.

Vincent Seretse, head of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation, said he hoped the government would approve plans to privatise the company and sketch out a timeline for the sell-off in next month's budget.

"I hope the master-plan for privatisation will be approved," he told a telecoms conference in Johannesburg.

Consultants employed by Botswana's telecoms regulator had said in a provisional report that the state expected to privatise the fixed-line monopoly within three years, Seretse said.

"One of my mandates is to ready the company for privatisation ... The 36-months estimate is not official, but I don't see it as being that far off."

Seretse has spearheaded a cost-cutting strategy to turn around Botswana's loss-making phone company, which has struggled since the onset of competition from mobile companies. He yanked the company back to an operating profit last financial year.

It was not possible to say whether the government would keep a controlling stake in the phone firm after a sale, or whether it would link up with foreign investors, Seretse said.