How FNBB profits dwarf other banks

Kitso Dickson In its full year (12 months) reporting period ending 30 June 2019, banking titan First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) generated more than what the other three listed banks made combined in their 12 months reporting periods.  In fact, Barclays Bank, BancABC and Standard Chartered’s post tax profits total about P100 million less of … How FNBB profits dwarf other banks Read More »

How FNBB profits dwarf other banks

Kitso Dickson

unionist called hostile environment for unionism at the telecom giant, characterized by ‘victimisation, persecution and discrimination of employees who have unionised at Mascom’. Motshegwa sought the resignation of the Portuguese executive warning that the federation, as custodians of the BPOPF kitty, viewed the company management in a very negative light. “Public servants whom we also represent cannot have their funds at BPOPF (majority shareholder at Mascom) being used to finance unethical trading and pay salaries of management who is hell bent on terrorising workers,” he warned.

At the same time MTN, which had continuously failed to wrestle management control of the telecom giant, grew increasingly frustrated. Earlier last month MTN caught the industry by surprise when it revealed that it would place its 53 per cent stake for sale. In addition it was revealed that the man looking to snap up the majority ownership of the one of the country’s most iconic companies was founder Strive Masiyiwa. The stake was valued at P3.2bn, and if anyone wanted in, they would have had to go past the existing shareholders first, being BPOPF and Masiyiwa. BPOPF was caught by surprise by the deal, while legally it also found itself hamstrung by its own rules that stipulate it could not hold a combined stake of more than P2.5bn in any single entity. At the valuation MTN was using, the BPOPF stake is around P2bn. 

But there was the politics as usual. Government insiders gave the MTN management the impression that the political leadership preferred Masiyiwa taking over. MTN executives grew concerned, according to inside sources, when they were informed that all the way to the President Mokgweetsi Masisi, they were viewed a negative light.

The Friday weekly Mmegi reports that MTN directors “cited “politics” as part of their reasons for welcoming the Econet offer. MTN has publicly said it is reviewing its portfolio across Africa, watching for risks and opportunities, in the wake of harsh lessons in Nigeria where it was fined billions of dollars by regulators”. The Business Weekly & Review can confidently reveal that MTN directors told a Mascom board meeting that Masiyiwa was being favoured by the political leadership.  However it has since emerged that The Business Weekly & Review this week learned that this was an elaborate scheme to make MTN lose confidence.

Furthermore Couceiro’s allies both within the regulator BOCRA and the Ministry of Telecommunications argued that the Portuguese be kept to limit disruption were there going to be a change of shareholding at the telecom giant. It has since emerged that, the impressions created both within Government and in the regulator were based on the false idea that somehow both Couceiro and Masiyiwa were greatly supported by the new leadership under Masisi.

There was always the matter of the renewal of Couceiro’s contract. The BPOPF arm of the board, desired a local CEO, while the government sought the renewal of the Portuguese’s contract. A temporary solution was found, he would work while a longer term solution was found. That was last year. As the union arm of the Mascom board took control, some opined that it would be a matter of time before the Portuguese is gone. However Couceiro’s allies had another trick up their sleeve – the impending selling of MTN shares to Econet. As the comrades were sharpening their knives, letters flew from Government Enclave in a frenetic fashion, in support of the embattled Portuguese.

At the same time the BPOPF was seeking legal advice on the possibility of muscling in on the shareholding availed by MTN. Things had changed for Couceiro and his allies. On that Tuesday Couceiro came in expecting to discuss the extension of his contract, only for him to be told it was all over. They would not even give him April in his position, but rather he would have to immediately hand over to his Mascom COO Dzene Makhwade-Seboni. He could get April but just to pack his belonings. In Makhwade-Seboni the BPOPF kill two birds with one stone, steady hands familiar with the entire hardware and software of the telecom giant, a local solid executive and another addition to the country’s top women executives. BPOPF is trying to think around how it can empower Batswana by broadening ownership of one of their most prized investments, with privatization mooted longer term.