Russian state lender VTB has filed a lawsuit in Britain’s High Court against a Mozambican government company it lent hefty sums to as part of a project now at the center of a $2 billion debt scandal, according to an online court filing, Reuters reported. The filing, dated Dec. 23, names as defendants the Mozambique state and Mozambique Asset Management, which took a $535 million loan from VTB as part of a costly project that U.S. authorities say was an elaborate front for a bribery and kickback scheme.
Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s Chief Executive Officer Andre de Ruyter started his role at South Africa’s indebted utility on Monday. De Ruyter is the first permanent leader of Eskom since the end of July, when Phakamani Hadebe stepped down, citing health reasons, Bloomberg News reported. He began work at the company’s headquarters in Johannesburg, an Eskom spokeswoman said in a reply to questions. The state-owned utility is set to be restructured to turn the loss-making business around and try to emerge from 450 billion rand ($31.4 billion) of debt.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari is due to complete his second and final four-year term in 2023 and the battle over who will succeed him is already heating up, placing further pressure on an already strained economy, Bloomberg News reported. Buhari has thus far shied away from endorsing his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, for the position, twice slighting him by opting not to transfer power to him while traveling abroad. That may diminish his chances of securing the top job.
Growing problems at South Africa’s state-owned enterprises are pushing major companies toward bankruptcy and subjecting the continent’s most developed economy to rolling blackouts that are choking growth, The Wall Street Journal reported. Earlier in December, flagship carrier South African Airways narrowly avoided collapse after the government loaned it 2 billion South African rand ($137 million) and ordered a restructuring.
Sudan has passed its 2020 budget that includes an overall deficit of about 73 billion Sudanese pounds ($1.62 billion), Finance Minister Ibrahim Elbadawi said on Sunday, Reuters reported. The country’s ruling sovereign council and Cabinet agreed the budget - the country’s first since the toppling of longtime ruler Omar al-Bashir, whose final years in power were marked by deep economic woes. The budget has expected revenues of 568.3 billion Sudanese pounds ($12.63 billion) and also includes increased spending for healthcare and education.
A South African telecoms company backed by investment firm Remgro plans to expand its high-speed broadband network after completing a 16 billion rand ($1 billion) debt restructuring this week, Reuters reported. The building of fiber optic networks in upmarket neighborhoods has intensified in the past five years, but has been confined to cities due to the high cost of laying down the infrastructure and the dominance of mobile internet.
South Africa’s biggest labor group is proposing that more than half the debt of state-owned Eskom Holding SOC Ltd. be put into a special purpose vehicle to help save the utility and avoid job cuts, Bloomberg News reported. The Congress of South African Trade Unions urged the government strike a deal with the Public Investment Corp., Africa’s biggest money manager, to help cut Eskom’s debt to 200 billion rand ($14 billion) from 450 billion rand, according to a document dated Nov. 10-11 and seen by Bloomberg News. Development finance institutions should also be involved, the group said.
South African Airways (SAA) has a reasonable chance of being saved from collapse, the specialists appointed to turn around the state-run carrier said on Friday, Reuters reported. Les Matuson, the business rescue practitioner charged with assessing the prospects of SAA and 10,000 related jobs, said he and his team considered a rescue to be the preferable option. He said there was a “reasonable prospect” of a successful business rescue notwithstanding the inevitable risks and challenges.
As central bank for the world’s least cash dependent economy, Sweden’s Riksbank risks becoming a bystander, Reuters reported. Its banknotes face extinction, while commercial banks control the country’s electronic payment infrastructure, diluting the Riksbank’s influence over its own financial system. Central bankers in Stockholm worry they are losing control over moving people’s money, while a few banks have gained pricing power over Sweden’s financial plumbing.