Africa

Tongaat Hulett Ltd. is asking 10 lenders for a break from payments on as much as 11 billion rand ($793 million) of debt so it can recover from the impact of having to restate accounts, according to Chief Executive Officer Gavin Hudson, Bloomberg News reported. The embattled South African sugar maker is spending about 1 billion rand a year servicing the borrowings and is looking to negotiate a freeze by the end of July, Hudson said in an interview at Tongaat’s 19th century Durban headquarters, an old farmhouse surrounded by sugar-cane fields.

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It’s quite understandable that Steinhoff International Holdings NV wants to create a favorable impression. The embattled retailer is in the final month of debt-restructuring talks, after all. In its results presentation last week, Steinhoff proclaimed in standout pink letters on the first page that it operates in “more than 12,000 stores with 40+ brands in 30+ countries.” Zoom in and the small print below reveals this includes discontinued operations, Bloomberg News reported. It comes after revelations of accounting irregularities that have wiped out more than 95% of its share price.

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Zambia’s new finance minister, Bwalya Ng’andu, said he wants to restart discussions with the International Monetary Fund about a bailout loan and that the government may delay the start of a controversial sales tax, Bloomberg News reported. “I will be quite keen to get us talking and see whether we can get the program,” the 64-year-old said Monday in Lusaka after being sworn in to replace Margaret Mwanakatwe, who President Edgar Lungu fired the night before. “At least we can get to some point where we are discussing constructively. There are things on our side that we need to do.

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South Africa’s indebted power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. was already searching for a chief executive officer and an executive to lead a turnaround of the company. It will now have to cast its net even wider to include a treasurer, Bloomberg News reported. Andre Pillay, who joined Eskom in 2011 and was made treasurer in 2016, will leave at the end of August. Chief Financial Officer Calib Cassim said Eskom requested Pillay remain at his post for the next two months, which sounds like he might have wanted to leave the struggling utility and its $32 billion debt sooner.

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South African wireless carrier Cell C Pty Ltd. has begun talks to delay debt payments and hired consultants to probe its business practices and advise on a restructuring, sending shares in its biggest investor to a decade low, Bloomberg News reported. Cell C is laboring under 8.9 billion rand ($639 million) of debt and trying to secure new funding from a consortium of investors. The company has begun a round of cost cuts, has frozen hiring and is reviewing its contracts, wrote Douglas Craigie Stevenson, Cell C’s chief executive officer, in an open letter.

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A proposal by the biggest owner of Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s debt to convert its $6.4 billion holding into equity has become a rescue option as South Africa seeks to restructure the troubled power utility, Bloomberg News reported. In return, the Public Investment Corp., which manages about $150 billion and is responsible for the pensions of more than 1 million state workers, wants a say over Eskom’s messy finances, including board representation, said five people with direct knowledge of the talks.

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The IMF has been accused of ignoring big debts owed by Congo-Brazzaville as it contemplates a bailout for Africa’s third-largest oil producer, the Financial Times reported. Commisimpex, a construction company owned by a UK national, has sued the central African nation, also known as the Republic of the Congo, over unpaid bills worth €1.2bn. It has written to the IMF to demand recognition of its claims alongside Chinese lenders and oil traders before the fund releases cash for the government of President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

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Mozambique has put on hold plans to raise funds for its portion of Anadarko Petroleum Corp.’s $20 billion gas project, as the government tries to limit its debt sales following a default about three years ago, Bloomberg News reporterd. Empresa Nacional de Hidrocarbonetos EP, the national oil company, will revive efforts to raise $2.3 billion for the liquefied natural gas project probably later in the year, after Anadarko starts implementing it, said ENH Chief Executive Officer Omar Mitha. That will help reduce risk and result in better terms, he said.

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Construction firm Commisimpex is calling upon the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to make settlement of its 1.2 billion euro ($1.35 billion) debt dispute with Congo Republic a precondition for a bailout deal, according to a letter seen by Reuters. Congo’s negotiations for an IMF bailout program have dragged on since 2017, Reuters reported. The Fund’s executive board is due to consider a bailout for Congo on Thursday after the government agreed to restructure a portion of its debt to China.

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South Africa’s struggling state-owned power utility will name an acting chief executive officer when incumbent Phakamani Hadebe steps down at the end of the month, according to a person familiar with the decision, Bloomberg News reported. The appointment will be made as the government readies a rescue plan for Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., which is saddled with more than $30 billion in debt and isn’t selling enough power to cover its costs.

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