The Tollmans resign from Wilderness board

  • Tollmans directly compete with Wilderness
  • Exit Wilderness completely
  • Tollmans eye more concession in Okavango


The Tollmans family, one of the richest investors in the tourism and hospitality space has resigned from the board of directors of Wilderness Safaris, the pan-Africa eco-tourism outfit.
An impromptu announcement was made on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) without detailed explanations as to why they completely quit the lucrative company which has enriched them over the years.
It emerged that Michael Tollman and Gavin Tollman, are no longer non-executive directors of Wilderness, affective 23 August.
Michael Tollman has served on Wilderness boards since 2005 and Gavin Tollman since the listing in 2010. The resignations however came just after the directors completed a transaction that left them with full ownership of Xigera Camp, a luxury camp that sits on one of Botswana’s most lucrative concessions.
Xigera lies on the aptly named Paradise Island, surrounded by deep channels and lush vegetation within a remote area of the productive Moremi Game Reserve. For much of the year this magnificent area epitomizes the permanently flooded section of the Okavango Delta, with palm-filled islands, riverine forests, a multitude of clear water channels and expansive floodplains.
Until recently, the Tollman family was the largest single shareholder in Wilderness Holdings through Wine Investments Limited, their investment company. Earlier this month, the Tollman disposed of their entire shareholding in Wilderness Holdings after they sold their shares to The Rise Fund, a social impact investment fund managed by TPG Growth. Although no financial details were released, Wine Investments’ stake in Wilderness Holdings was 80, 697, 582 ordinary shares, translating to 34 percent shareholding, and if the shares were sold at the current price P5.86, the Tollman pocketed more than P472.9 million from the transaction.
Mountbatten Limited, a company owned by the Tollmans acquired 100 percent shareholding in Great Explorations from Okavango Wilderness Safaris (OWS). The latter is a subsidiary Wilderness Holdings Limited, an ecotourism behemoth spanning eight countries with 48 safari camps that boast some of the most luxurious camps in the world.
Mountbatten is wholly owned by Travcorp Financial Services Limited which is in turn wholly owned by Travel Corporation Limited, an entity registered in British Virgin Islands. The Travel Corporation or Travcorp is a huge travel and leisure group owned by the Tollman family.
Inside the deal, the Tollmans were to swap and get Xigera as part of the deal.
Xigera Camp together with Xarei Camp are Wilderness Holdings’ oldest camps after being commissioned as the company’s first permanent camps in 1985, two years after Wilderness Holdings was established in Botswana.
The Tollmans acquisition of Xigera came Just months after Minister of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama renewed the lease for the money spinning Xigera Camp concession without tender. The Tollmans have been given a 16 year lease.
Insiders say the Tollmans’ decision to quit Wilderness was merely because through Xigera camp, the Tollmans are now in direct competition with Wilderness, and thus no longer want to make a strategic input in the growth of Wilderness. Further, sources say the Tollmans eye more lucrative concessions in the Okavango Delta, which if acquired over time, will see the billionaire family giving Wilderness a run for its money.