Ten out of 45 unlisted companies that the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has invested in have not paid any dividend to the Trust for the past 10 years.
The investment value of the 10 companies stood at GH¢150.30 million as of December 2020.
Except four of the companies which have capital appreciation over the investment value, the rest of the companies have their individual values less than the amount SSNIT has invested in them.
The total portfolio of the 45 companies was GH¢3.26 billion as of December 2020, and SSNIT’s share value in the 10 companies is GH¢326 million in the same year.
The defaulting companies are the Golden Beach Hotels (GBH), CDH, Kumasi Abattoir, Accra Abattoir, Intercity STC Coaches Limited, Bayport Financial Services, Trust Logistics Limited, Africa World Airlines (AWA), SIMNet and Metro Mass Transit Company Limited.
This was disclosed when the management of SSNIT, led by its Director-General, Dr John Ofori-Tenkorang, appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to respond to some infractions contained in the 2021 Auditor-General’s report of the company.
The Chairman of PAC, James Klutse Avedzi, said the SSNIT representatives on the board of those companies explained that they had not made profit for the past 10 years.
“This could have serious effect on sustainability or solvency of the Trust in a long time. We recommended that management should assess the operations of these companies to take strategic decisions to safeguard the interest of the Trust,” he said.
Responding, the Deputy Director-General in charge of Investment, Kofi Osafo-Maafo, said: “We are working on the initiatives for a turnaround in their operational performance over a longer term. With that they will be able to pay dividends”.
For Golden Beach Hotels (GBH), he said the Trust was seeking a strategic investor to invest in the hotels.
“What we expect to get are strategic investors who have both the financial muscle and knowledge of managing hotels better to be able to turnaround performance of our hotels,” Mr Osafo-Maafo said.
Kumasi, Accra Abattoir
He said the Kumasi Abattoir started as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) investment and had been faced with non-commercial pricing, while on the Accra Abattoir, Mr Osafo-Maafo said that SSNIT was working to exit the company as it was a CSR initiative with a similar issue of pricing, thus, not making profit.
“Following a board and shareholders resolution of the company, they are looking to dispose of four acres out of about 21 acres of land to settle the debt.
“Once the financing cost are out of the way, we expect the underlying financial performance of the company to be better,” Mr Osafo-Maafo said.
With respect to CDH, he said the Trust, which had a 1.3 per cent equity stake, was looking forward to exit the company, adding that two of the underlying financial asset management companies in the group had had their licences withdrawn.
“Since we last came here (PAC), we have found a buyer for our shares and a transactional advisor is now being procured to look at the valuation of our shares.
“We should be, hopefully, looking to exit CDH,” Mr Osafo-Maafo said.
On Bayport Financial Services, he said it was a non-bank financial institution that originally intended to pay dividend to the Trust in 2024.
Mr Osafo-Maafo said in 2022, and the year prior to that, the company turned a profit and made additions to retain earnings.
“But as we are all aware within the financial sector and as a result of the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme, the banking and non-financial institutions are facing challenges and, therefore, the need to protect their balance sheet.
“We, therefore, do not expect them to pay a dividend this year. We are hopeful that if the economic conditions improve, they should be able to pay dividend on the back that they are now posting positive earnings,” he said.
Mr Osafo-Maafo said his outfit was looking forward to Trust Logistics Limited to leverage its existing assets as they had gone into partnership with Goil Company Ltd to leverage their landed assets.
“We are also in discussions with Central Oil Refinery and if that should come off then the primary issues of our competitiveness on the market and our ageing fleets will be resolved to improve its performance in order to pay dividends,” he said.
Intercity STC Coaches Limited
Mr Osafo-Maafo described the challenge with Intercity STC as “a more difficult situation” of pricing and operating cost.
“On the operating cost, they are facing head wings from fuel cost that has resulted in a much higher operating cost.”
“However, they were not able to get permission to improve their pricing that resulted in negative margins,” he said, adding that a meeting would be held at the end of September and December this year to assess the situation.
“And if their financial performance permits, there will be a plan in place to meet their indebtedness,” Mr Osafo-Maafo said.
In relation with AWA, he said the company had been operating with a leased aircraft which arrangement affected its operational cost.
“There are also internal issues that we are addressing with the majority shareholders with respect to corporate governance and we expect that if all of these come together the company should be able to pay dividend in 2024,” Mr Osafo-Maafo said.
In the case of SIMNet, which is a service provider for the National Lottery Authority, he said they were pursuing a diversification strategy.
“If that should materialise, it will help transform the company. In the interim, we are working with the authority to renew their licence so that they improve their financial performance going forward,” Mr Osafo-Maafo said.
He also described the Metro Mass Transit Company Limited as a CSR investment which had issues with pricing on a commercial basis.