MRI Botswana has not altogether ruled out the possibility of coming back to the domestic bourse, it emerged this week. The country’s first diversified health services provider was once listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) but delisted in 2008 when the global recession kicked in.
“We are currently expanding. While we have not discussed any plans of re-listing, I think we can only list when we want to raise capital for our projects,” the company’s chairman, Abel Bogatsu, told BG Business. Bogatsu did not say when such a time might be. He added that when they delisted, the company’s business model of emergency services “was not understood by many”, causing them to go back to the drawing board.
He was speaking on the sidelines of an event that marked the official opening of their plush offices in Block 7 in Gaborone on Tuesday this week. Citizen investors currently own the company, which has over the years moved from just an emergency care provider to a group with diverse services, including on site clinics and pharmacies. Southview (93 percent) and Motor Vehicle Accident Fund (4 percent) are among their subsidiaries.
The remaining shares have been taken over by 200 individual shareholders who remained with the company when it went private. Prior to the current shareholding structure, BOMAID and Venture Partners Botswana (VPB), an entity that was formed by Anthony Siwawa who is an old hand in private equity matters, owned MRI. But how has it fared since going private?
An upbeat Bogatsu, who is also the finance manager for Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTCL), told BG Business that the company had now managed to stand on its own feet and was rolling out its expansion plans to become a major player in the private health sector. He would not reveal the amount of capital they were spending on expansion or the source of the money. Seven years after going private, the company now has MRI Onsite, Prime Health Pharmacy, Prime Health Medical Practice, Prime Health Travel Clinic, MRI Training School, as well as a call centre, among others.
“MRIB has grown organically over the last 22 decades, building on identified strengths and moving from one horizon to the next,” said Bogatsu at the event that was also attended by health minister Dorcas Makgato.
For her part, the minister said companies like MRI should be commended for their efforts as they helped government achieve its integrated health sector plan. According to Makgato, the plan is meant to incorporate the public and private sectors in the provision of health services. The thinking is that standards go up when there are collaborations in the provision of health services. Similarly, the cost for such services become more affordable, said the minister.
However, a source within the health sector has said that while government is calling for partnerships in the health sector, “the same government also wants to do everything”. This, the source added, includes the emergency care services by the Ministry of Health. “We believe these jobs should be given to the private sector, which has the capacity,” said the source that was also present at the launch of the MRI head office.