Amid rising fears that the South African economy is stuck with low growth, major financial institutions along with the South African National Treasury have cut their 2018 growth forecasts for Africa’s most industrialised economy, the Financial Times reported. One of numerous issues the government is facing is the financial health of Eskom, South Africa’s state-owned monopoly power utility company. The company’s semi-annual results announced on November 28 highlight just how daunting this issue is.
South Africa faces no choice but to assume some of the debt of its troubled power utility, Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., said Martin Kingston, the chief executive officer of Rothschild & Co.’s operations in the country, Bloomberg News reported. The state-owned company has incurred debt of 419 billion rand ($29 billion), which it is struggling to service, and inadequate spending on maintenance of its power plants has led to a series of scheduled power cuts this month, potentially harming economic growth.
South Africa’s financial regulator is investigating seven trading accounts that sold Steinhoff International Holdings NV shares in the weeks leading up to the global retailer’s disclosure of accounting irregularities and subsequent share-price collapse a year ago, Bloomberg News reported. The accounts belong to individuals, trusts and corporate entities and the Financial Sector Conduct Authority is looking for evidence of insider trading, it said in a statement Friday. The probe is close to completion.
Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. should consider selling two coal-fired plants that rank among the world’s biggest to repair the state-owned utility’s finances, according to the head of South Africa’s biggest bank by market value, Bloomberg News reported. The supplier of almost all of South Africa’s power is being battered by declining sales, high fixed costs, surging debt and unplanned outages that are holding back economic growth. Its two new power plants, Medupi and Kusile, are still unfinished after a decade of construction.
Troubled low-cost African carrier Fastjet Plc warned on Friday it may have to go into administration, shut shop or sell itself as it had only enough cash to keep it in business for another seven days, Reuters reported. The airline, which had a cash balance of $6.8 million as of Thursday, said it might have to formally hire insolvency advisers for the process if its cash balance does not improve.
A group of hedge funds has hired one of the world’s most prominent sovereign debt lawyers in the hope of restructuring up to $8bn in Sudanese debt if the former pariah state’s relations with the US continue to improve, the Financial Times reported. Lee Buchheit, a senior partner at law firm Cleary Gottlieb, has been brought on board to advise a clutch of London-based funds who are owners of unpaid debt that has been racking up interest since the 1980s.
Steinhoff International Holdings NV tumbled after the global retailer said the results of a forensic investigation by auditors PwC will be delayed, Bloomberg News reported. The news comes exactly a year after the disclosure of accounting irregularities and the resignation of its CEO threw the company into crisis. The findings of the probe were postponed until the end of February, while the release of earnings for both last year and fiscal 2018 were pushed out to mid-April, the company said Thursday, dashing its efforts to publish audited results for 2017 by the end of this year.
Kenya is in talks with lenders to roll over a $760 mln syndicated loan this fiscal year and lengthen its maturity in order to make debt repayments more manageable, a senior Treasury official said on Tuesday. The loan, which was initially for two years, was arranged by TDB bank, said Kamau Thugge, the principal secretary at the ministry of finance, Reuters reported. The government aimed to increase the tenor of the loan to seven or 10 years, he said, adding that they had not yet struck an agreement with lenders whom he did not identify.
Oman’s Raysut Cement said on Tuesday it plans to acquire Kenya’s ARM Cement, which went into administration in August, as part of its expansion plans. Raysut has expressed its interest to the administrators to acquire the company, it said in a statement. “The acquisition will complement Raysut’s revised strategy to manufacture clinker in proximity to the markets it supplies to in East Africa,” Raysut said in the statement, adding that the acquisition was estimated to be worth more than $100 million, Reuters reported.
South Africa’s government is prioritizing regaining an investment grade rating on its debt as part of its plans to revive a stagnant economy, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni said. Moody’s Investors Service is the only one of the three major credit-rating companies that still assesses South Africa’s debt at investment grade, Bloomberg News reported. S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings Ltd. cut their ratings to junk during former President Jacob Zuma’s tenure which was characterized by political uncertainty due to multiple cabinet reshuffles and corruption scandals.