Botswana Buildings Society (BBS) is expected to join the domestic bourse sometimes this year, marking a momentous progress that will benefit thousands of shareholders in the long run, Botswana Guardian has learnt.
The Society which has one of the biggest mortgage portfolios in the country has already approached Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE), signaling intentions of rubbing shoulders with some of the biggest and listed commercial banks, which it hopes to compete with pound for pound, once it receives a nod on its banking license application.
“Yes I can confirm that Botswana Building Society (BBS) has approached the BSE citing the intention to list on our OTC Board called Serala OTC Board,” responded BSE Head of Market Development, Thapelo Moribame. It is not yet known how much shares BBS intends to float in the domestic bourse. BBS Head of Communications and Marketing, Sipho Showa was not willing to give any details when approached this Monday.
“I am afraid there is not much we can share with the media at this point, as everything that is being done is very much internal. As we have been doing, issuing statements or updates at appropriate times, we will do so again when there are concrete developments,” he said in written response.
According to the BSE, the OTC Serala board ‘facilitates the secondary trading of shares in companies who list not to raise capital but to familarise themselves with the stock exchange’. Although the BSE has not officially announced their decision on BBS listing, Chief Executive, Thapelo Tsheole’s remarks suggest it is a done deal. “We are also excited at the first company to list on our OTC called Serala OTC Board. We are expecting the Botswana Building Society (BBS), a bank that is undergoing demutualisation to register its shares on the OTC Board this year. “This will enable the shareholders of the bank, who are over 5,000 to trade their shares on the BSE,” he said at the Africa and Middle East Depositories Association meeting last week. Over time, BBS will move to the BSE main board.
In August 2017, BBS shareholders resolved to give the directors the leeway to transform the Society into a company limited by shares. The bank is also expected to apply for a commercial banking license. Showa did not state if they have already put an application before Bank of Botswana (BoB). At a special shareholders’ meeting seven months ago, Managing Director, Pius Molefe sounded optimistic they will get the banking license, which has eluded some local investors in the past. He said there is no need to ask for a waiver from the central bank as his institution has had several bilateral and trilateral meetings to ensure the conversion goes well. He explained that the management engaged experts, Pricewaterhousecoopers when they started the journey of conversion. “The institution is in a good stance. We do not see us failing once we have taken up banking. We are already operating as a bank.
“We are saving our clients’ finances, we are granting loans. We are limited by the Societies Act to provide such services as Forex. As a bank we will be adding more products like Debit, Visa/Master cards,” Molefe said.