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Bona Life close business pending Board appointments

Publishing Date : 09 July, 2018


Bona Life Chief Executive Officer, Regina Sikalesele has confirmed that the company has closed business pending the appointment of Board of Directors following an instruction by the Non Bank Financial Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA)

The stand-off has been caused by the disagreement with among shareholders on who should be appointed to the company Board of Directors. For some time the company had been operating without a board, which was considered to not be in line with best governance practices. This publication has however gathered that, CEO, had initially drafted six names which were never objected by other shareholders, Botswana Public Employees Pension Fund (BPOPF) as well as Capital Management Botswana (CMB).

However recently, of the directors of CMB, Tim Marsland informed Sikalesele of his objection to the proposed board names, and now wants to also be part of the board of directors. Sikalesele however contends that Marsland cannot be part of the board because of his brawl with the regulator as well as ongoing investigation against him by oversight institutions such as Financial Intelligence Agency (FIA), which are responsible for the vetting process.

There is also a believe that Marshal wants to use seeks to use his power to continue exerting influence in the affairs of Bona Life as a board member following earlier attempt to dethrone Sikalesele from the company. Recently, one of the directors of Bona Life tried but failed to remove her from the company following a dispute arising allegedly from Sikalesele’s decision to report the battle between company shareholders to the regulator. Despite the commotion, Sikalesele has assured Bona Life that their policies are safe for now, and is hopeful that the situation will return to normal as soon as possible.

“If we can have the board appointed today, tomorrow we are opening for business,” she said. “Of course what has been happening put pensioners’ money at risk if it is not resolved in time, but as long as the issue of board appointments is not resolved, the business will remain closed.” The business closed on Thursday this week, with the hope that the outstanding differences would first be resolved before the business start operating again. All shareholders were informed by the CEO’s of her decision to close the business for operation until an agreement is reached regarding appointment of board members.

Sikalesele said closing the business is part of protecting Bona Life clientele by ensuring that the business does not operate without board anymore. She said operating without Board has restricted the company from making key decisions. “I am really determined to save the company. Some people are acting irresponsibly but I have faith that the matter will be resolved and we will have a board soon,” she said.

Sikalesele said she is hoping for two things; that the name she proposed for business will go through or that, Marsland himself will approach the NBFIRA directly to have himself appointed to the company board. “Clients should not panic, they are safe and they should continue supporting Bona Life. I am grateful for their support and the good will that they have offered to the company so far,” she said.

Bona Life is the first citizen-owned life insurance company. It started initially trading as Bramer Life Insurance, with Regina Sikalesele as the founder in partnership with a company of Mauritian origin in 2014. Unfortunately, in 2015, its mother company in Mauritius was hit by a huge scandal, forcing Bramer Life to be placed under the Statutory Manager Nigel Dixon-Warren.

In a transaction approved by NBFIRA, the company bounced back under Bona Life brand, under the following shareholding arrangement; 40 percent stake as owned by Botswana Opportunity Partnership (a partnership between BPOPF and CMB), 25 percent CMB, 10 percent employees while the remaining 25 percent was Sikalesele.

Essentially, Bona Life was citizen majority owned company, considering that the 40 percent stake owned by BPOPF on BOP represent thousand members of the fund, Sikalesele noted.  “Bona Life represents the dreams and the aspirations of Batswana. It has a broad shareholding of Batswana through BPOPF,” she said.

However, the dispute between BPOPF and CMB, shareholders in Bona Life threaten the pride that the company enjoys as the “citizen owned insurance company.”

This is so because CMB has sold BOP, which has 40 percent in Bona Life to CMA, a foreign owned company. The dispute on the transfer of the ownership of the company is subject of the courts.  While Sikalesele continue to ride the storms, she assures the clientele of Bona Life that they have little to worry about.

“NBFIRA was created by parliament to protect the clients of non-bank financial institutions and to maintain stability in the financial services sector,” she said. “Bona Life has candidly reported challenges to NBFIRA and is keeping NBFIRA updated to enable it to perform its role of protecting the clients of Bona Life in accordance with the law.”



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