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Chairperson and MD say delay is to give auditors time to complete their work after weeks of lockdown even though the more critical ones worked from home. Staff Writer KEABETSWE NEWEL reports

The Botswana Stock Exchange quoted telecommunications giant, Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited (BTC), has announced that it will miss the release of its audited financial statements which were expected on or before 30 June by at least a month.

According to a joint statement by board chairperson Lorato Boakgomo-Ntakhwana and Managing Director Anthony Masunga, the publishing of the financial results has been postponed to around 31 July 2020. The company says this is being done to account for the time lost by auditors during the weeks that the country was under lockdown.

According to Boakgomo-Ntakhwana and Masunga, as a result of restrictions on movement of people, external auditors and employees who were critical to the audit process had to work from home but were not able to meet their deadlines. “The impact of COVID-19 is likely to be pervasive on the upcoming result announcement and this warrants a review or assessment of its potential impact by the external auditors,” they said.

As the market awaits the results, BTC has not indicated how the results are likely to be. The company recorded a profit after tax of P162million for the financial year ended 31 March 2019, a decline of 25 percent compared to P217million recorded in the previous year. This was mainly attributable to an 8 percent decline in revenue from contracts with customers to P1,448million (FY18:P1,567million) and a 28 percent increase in depreciation to P199million (FY18:P156m) due to an increase in investment on mobile and fixed networks.

BTCL SHARE PRICE PERFOMANCE
According to a weekly research published by brokerage firm Motswedi Securities last Friday, BTC closed May 2020 valued at P0.85 per share, which is 3 thebe higher than the previous month’s closing price. The researchers said the stock’s low valuation attracted a number of investors, which saw the share price climb up slightly from its historic low of P0.80/share, which was touched briefly earlier in the month of May.

May was the first positive monthly movement for BTC for 2020 and has reduced its year-to-date losses to 10.5 percent as at 31 May 2020. “It is interesting to note that BTCL is currently the only stock on the BSE that has gained in value in the second quarter of the year, thus far,” the two said, adding that the increased demand for BTCL is expected to continue supporting the share price in the short to medium-term.

Currently most bids for BTCL shares are above the current market price reflective investors increased appetite for the stock, according to Motswedi. The trading of BTC shares improved to 350 000 in May 2020, coming from the stock’s lowest month-on-month volume since the company listed, of 140 000 recorded in April 2020. Accordingly, the total value traded for BTCL shares increased to P290 000 in May 2020 from P120 000 in April 2020.

Motswedi said BTC’s contribution to total market liquidity was at its highest in three months at 0.83 percent during the month of May 2020. Although BTC’s volume traded for May 2020 remains generally on the low end, this was much in line with the generally depressed equity market conditions, according to Motswedi.

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