Afre the new beacon of transparency — Hoto

In an interview with businessdigest soon after the group’s Annual General Meeting on Tuesday, which saw shareholders vote out Dunmore Kundishora from the company’s board of directors, Hoto said the market should expect a better standard of corporate disclosure from Afre.

“We are listed company and custodians of public funds and as a listed entity we owe it to our many stakeholders to keep them appropriately informed of developments within the company,” he said.

“When we listed (then FML) we were aware of our (fiduciary) responsibilities. Why should one keep information from stakeholders? Unless  one is planning to do something with public funds there must always be full disclosure.”

On the ongoing board changes, Hoto said the board would continue to be augmented with new people and talents, adding he was confident that once the process was complete, the final board of directors would not only be reflective of gender balance but representative of all stakeholders including contributing pension funds.

Hoto said efforts to recover US$4 million lost through insider dealing by former Afre Executive Chairman, Patterson Timba, had progressed and the matter was now before the courts.

“We are going to be asking our shareholders to put US$10 million into the business and the first question they will ask is whether we  have recovered the US$4 million owed by Timba. Clearly they will expect us to pursue this matter and we are doing so vigorously,” he said.

Hoto also presented the groups trading update, assuring shareholders that things were shaping up.

Gross premium income earned during the first four months of the year was US$29,4 million against a budget of US$27 million.

This represented 5% growth over the US$28 million earned during the same period last year.

However, rental income at US$2,307 million, 10% ahead of the prior year figure but 17% below budget, leaving overall income 7% below budget at US$26 million.

Expense management was well within targets with claims and benefits and costs of management recorded at US$20,8 million leaving a net surplus ofUS$5,883 million. All business units were in line with the budget whilst maintaining the prescribed 25% management expenses to revenue ratio.

“Net cash generated during the period was US$3,3 million giving the group adequate cash to pursue some of its programmes across its subsidiaries,” he said.

Hoto told shareholders that the company had had successful engagements with regulators and group’s restoration agenda has been well received in the local market and beyond, with the Botswana unit showing signs of recovery having posted an initial profit of US$250 000.

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