Letshego CEO earns whopping P7, 5m

Koobonye Ramokopelwa
Tuesday, 02 May 2017
Christopher Low Christopher Low

Letshego’s Chief Executive, Christopher Low smiled all the way to the bank last year, as the micro-lending titan rewarded the Brit with a mouthwatering annual pay totalling P7, 5million.
This is according to the group’s latest annual report, which among others covers the company operations and financial performance for the 12 months to December 2016.

Low, who has been with the company for about three years, was paid a total package of P7, 535,000 for the year under review. Botswana Guardian’s own calculation shows that, Low, a Chartered Accountant by profession, earned P627, 916, 67 every month.

That is if his management services, performance bonus and special incentive were paid on a month-to-month basis as a collective. Low’s total pay is more than the P6, 9million paid to the ten directors who made up the company’s board.

At more than P600, 000, 00 a month, Low has become the second best paid Chief Executive of a listed company, after millionaire and serial investor, Choppies Chief Executive, Ram Ottapathu. Ram earns nearly P1million on a monthly basis as the most senior executive of the BSE and Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) listed retailer. The salary for Letshego’s boss, who has over 25 years in the financial services sector, is more than the P5, 7million he earned in 2015. 

According to the annual report, Low’s salary was increased after his three-year contract ended in November 2016. A chart on the annual report shows that Low was paid P3,15million for ‘management services’, P2,885million as performance bonus and a special incentive of P1,5million, which brings the total to just over P7,5million. 

His righthand man, Group Finance Director, Colm Patterson, was paid just under half of his total pay. The report, which is also available for investors’ perusal on the BSE website, shows that Patterson was paid a total package of P3, 087,000 for his services to the Pan-African micro-lending group.

Board members of Letshego, who are responsible for giving the company strategic advice, were also paid handsomely for their services. For example, former Chairman John Burbidge  received just over P800, 000, 00 for his work for the period under review. This pay is what board chairpersons in other private companies and government parastatals can only dream of. Burbidge has since handed the baton to Chairman Enos Banda, who was only appointed to the board last August.

Letshego’s board also has former deputy finance minister, Dr. Gloria Somolekae as board member. The soft-spoken Somolekae was rewarded with nearly P600, 000, 00 for the services she rendered during the year under review. Somolekae sits in several sub-committees of the board such as human resources and strategy.

In the same board also sits former Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited (BIHL) Chief Executive, Gaffar Hassam who is now a senior executive at Sanlam. He was paid just over P500, 000 for his services. Unfortunately, his dues have been channeled to the company which he represents in the board, most likely BIHL which has shares in the company. 

In total, the directors’ fees totaled P6, 9million. While Letshego which has a market capitalisation of P4, 7billion has paid its Chief Executive a performance bonus and a special incentive, its profit for the year (H2:2016) under review took a nosedive. The company’s Profit after Tax (PAT) stood at P948million, down by 9 percent year on year.  This is despite advances increasing by 6percent to end the year at 7billion. 
Writing in the same annual report, Low said the company will push its agenda of becoming a broad-based financial services company with focus in the African continent. “I feel confident that we have invested wisely in the critical elements to mitigate these risks: our people, our policy frameworks, our systems and our stakeholders,” he wrote.  Chairman Banda pointed out that the group will also continue to drive the financial inclusion strategy. More investments will also be channeled to staff, technology and strategic partnerships. 

“The Board of Directors is confident that the Group is well positioned to benefit from the growing markets in which it is active and views inorganic expansion via acquisitions as important to the acceleration of Letshego’s strategy,” said Banda. 

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