Managing Director’s Report

“SEND ME 300 FRANCS; THAT SUM WILL ENABLE ME TO GO TO PARIS. THERE, AT LEAST, ONE CAN CUT A FIGURE AND SURMOUNT OBSTACLES.
EVERYTHING TELLS ME I SHALL SUCCEED. WILL YOU PREVENT ME FROM DOING SO FOR THE WANT OF 100 CROWNS?”

This was the letter penned by a young Napoleon Bonaparte to his uncle, Joseph Fesch in June 1791, just before that young man from a small island off the coast of France, changed the course of notonly Europe, but also of the world.

 
Just like Napoleon started his rise on the minimum of stipends, so did Trustco 25 years ago off asmall investment of a mere NAD 100. I’d always thought Napoleon would have enjoyed the boardgame Risk, as its combination of diplomacy, conflict and conquest mirrored the ways in which he built his empire. Even though the world has changed since Napoleon’s days, much still remains
the same – but not the battlefields. In business, we still depend on diplomacy and conflict toachieve the necessary conquests on an economic stage.

 
As such, it remained my pleasure to apply my own brand of diplomacy and judicious conflictmanagement, to ensure Trustco achieved its strategic goals conquests during the past year.

 
“All diplomacy is a continuation of war by other means.”

 
Diplomacy starts at home – and in Trustco’s case, this means with our staff. Trustco once againwon the large size category of Deloitte’s annual “Best Company To Work For” survey in Namibia. A survey, I might add, that is conducted amongst staff anonymously and without management’s input, and thus reflects the actual morale of the team that has led Trustco to where we are today.

 
I do believe however, that a team can only remain the best if they continuously improve andre-invent. To that effect, the remuneration committee on the recommendation of management,extended our flagship Top 40 employee programme to include a benefit that compels these exemplary employees to attend international seminars and courses. To broaden horizons and to bring that knowledge back to Namibia.

 

Diplomacy, however, only starts at home – but then it must reach outwards to be effective. Our new resources segment flexed its muscles and worked towards setting up the Meya mine in Sierra Leone. With positive drilling results, we expect this project to generate significant returns for shareholders in the future.

 

The larger part of value creation will be realised via the diamond cutting and polishing factory that forms part of the Huso transaction. As a result, we renegotiated the payment terms of the aforementioned transaction to ensure optimal wealth creation for all shareholders.

 
It was not only the resources segment that tested our negotiation skills – with our drive to
establish Trustco Bank as a fully operational commercial bank, we also secured internationalfunding for its operations via the European Investment Bank, while funding was secured to expand our Elisenheim property development via Helios Credit Partners.

 
“Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.”

 
Not everything can be solved via diplomacy. External forces massed against Trustco’s goal
of sustainable wealth creation, in the form of political and economic turmoil in our southern neighbour and lacklustre economic performance at home.

 
At home, Namibia experienced a technical recession, and the country’s growth sunk to the lowest levels in this decade. Our insurance segment was hit hardest by this recession, but they fought back valiantly to at least maintain the wealth creation Trustco expects from that segment. Namibia’s recession, however, is not something that can or should be countered by government – the Namibian government is doing its best to follow guidelines as set out by the IMF with regards to fiscal consolidation. It is my firm belief that the private sector, in concert with government – and the Namibian entrepreneurial spirit – will reignite our economy. There is an undying will to do just that.

 
With that in mind, I’ve continued with my entrepreneurial sessions across the country to inspire and guide Namibians by what I’ve learned over the past 25 years in building Trustco. I encourage the youth to look differently at any situation, see where opportunities lie, and if there are none, create them.

 
“A peace is of the nature of a conquest; for then both parties nobly are subdued, and neither party loser.”

 
In Trustco’s conquests, there are no losers – we aim to create wealth for all our stakeholders, and this year was no exception. Despite the economic climate, Trustco once again managed to deliver the numbers we, as a group, are known for.

 
From our properties division, which is delivering on Namibia’s land provision shortage, to our banking and finance segment that managed exceptional growth during these trying times, Trustco excelled once again.

 
“Risk is our business – and we exercise courage in taking risks and capturing opportunities.”

 
Fortunately, a leader is only as good as his or her troops, and I am lucky to have exemplary troops in my service. From our elected board, without whose guidance and experience our achievements would have been much more difficult, to my executive team that guided and executed our strategic plan, down to those stalwarts of industry, my faithful employees, who toiled hard to deliver performance during a difficult year, I thank you all. You’ve made it much easier to play the game this year.

 
To those, who loyally join us on our mission of wealth creation – our stakeholders, customers, friends and investors, I salute you. None of our successes would be possible without your unwavering support.

 
I have often said that trying times offer the best opportunities, and this year, Trustco was ideally placed to capitalise on them. Our groundwork has been laid, and my troops stand ready. The bestof Trustco is yet to come.

 

 

Dr Quinton van Rooyen
(Managing Director)