South Africa’s Eskom Slashes Debt by a Fifth; Bonds Rally

Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., the beleaguered South African state power utility, reduced its debt by almost a fifth after repaying matured loans and benefiting from a more favorable exchange rate, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said, Bloomberg News reported. Debt fell to 401 billion rand ($29 billion) at the end of March, from 484 billion rand a year earlier, Gordhan said in a webcast speech to lawmakers on Tuesday. The utility has yet to release its financial results for the year. “The management of Eskom’s debt is one of the key priorities to return the entity onto a sustainable path,” Gordhan said. “The entity is continuing to implement its cost-reduction initiative, with a saving of 13.5 billion rand achieved in the 2021 financial year.” The yield on Eskom dollar bonds maturing in 2025 fell 29 basis points by 3:15 p.m. in Johannesburg, according to Bloomberg pricing. The utility repaid 65 billion rand last year, raised 15 billion rand in new financing and posted 35 billion rand in foreign exchange gains, Calib Cassim, its chief financial officer, told reporters. Eskom hasn’t been generating enough electricity to meet the nation’s needs, resulting in intermittent power shortages, and isn’t generating enough cash to cover its operating expenses and interest bill, leaving it dependent on government bailouts to survive. Read more.