South Africa

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A digital rand in South Africa could cut the high cost of cross-border payments for banks but its introduction is still a few years away, a senior central bank official said, Reuters reported. However, regulation of crypto assets is in the offing and might come into force within nine to 15 months, South African Reserve Bank (SARB) Deputy Governor Kuben Naidoo told Reuters in an interview. It costs 13% of a transaction to remit money from South Africa to another country, more than double the average of the Group of 20 (G20) leading global economies, according to a 2021 World Bank report.
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A new bidding process for the rescue of provisionally liquidated South African Express will open this week based on a re-evaluation of the airline's "intangible assets," according to the legal representative of the provisional liquidators, ch-aviation.com reported. This comes ahead of a liquidation court hearing of the state-owned regional airline now set for July 4, 2022, after it was postponed seven times since the airline was provisionally liquidated in April 2020.

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SA Rugby will take the opportunity in front of a governmental sports portfolio committee to lobby for the return of crowds on Wednesday, the Daily Maverick reported. SA Rugby has kept the sport afloat over two COVID-wracked years, but it won’t be able to survive another year like the previous two. That is the dire warning from the governing body, which it will take to Parliament when it does a regular update to the portfolio committee on sport.

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South Africa’s government plans to restructure state power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s debt before elections in 2024, and will only provide additional support if the company sells assets and cuts jobs, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana said, Bloomberg News reported. Eskom, which supplies almost all of South Africa’s power, has 392 billion rand ($26 billion) of debt. The utility has said the liabilities need to be cut to 200 billion rand for it to be sustainable and accept support pledged by rich nations to help reduce South Africa’s dependence on coal and cut carbon emissions.
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South Africa’s government is considering taking over part or all of Eskom Holdings SOC. Ltd.’s 392 billion rand ($25.8 billion) debt as it seeks to restructure the cash-strapped power utility’s loan obligations, according to the International Monetary Fund, Bloomberg News reported. Eskom’s financial position is of particular concern and requires a decision on how to address its “unsustainable” debt levels, the Washington-based lender said in a statement published on its website following on-line meetings between its staff and South African officials.
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South Africa’s largest lender to farmers is seeking to exit default on its debt by the end of March, potentially marking the end of a two-year saga that’s raised concern other indebted state companies will follow suit, Bloomberg News reported. The Pretoria-based Land & Agricultural Development Bank of South Africa has been struggling to find a way forward since missing a loan repayment in April 2020 that triggered a cross-default in notes issued under a 50 billion-rand ($3.2 billion) bond program.
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South African Airways (SAA) said an amended business rescue (BR) plan for its low-cost subsidiary Mango was approved at a meeting of creditors on Thursday, paving the way for the airline to seek an equity partner, Reuters reported. "According to the BR practitioners the process to secure a successful bidder, inclusive of concluding the relevant acquisition agreements, is anticipated to be completed by the end of March 2022," SAA said in a statement. Business rescue is a form of bankruptcy protection in South Africa.
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South Africa’s Government Employees Pension Fund, the biggest investor in Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. debt, said there were significant hurdles to a proposal that its bonds be converted to equity to help rescue the struggling power monopoly, Bloomberg News reported. The initiative, which has been backed by the country’s biggest labor unions, was first examined by the Public Investment Corp., which manages most of the pension fund’s investments, but the GEPF has not been formally approached about a potential swap, its investment chief said.
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South Africa’s Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. resumed cutting power to customers due to breakdowns at some of its electricity-generating plans, Bloomberg News reported. The state-owned company, which is struggling to reduce its debt burden, has been cutting 2,000 megawatts from the grid since Saturday evening after breakdowns and malfunctions at six of its plants. The rolling power cuts, known locally as load-shedding, will be suspended on Monday morning and re-introduced during evenings until Tuesday night after a unit at its Koeberg plant tripped on Sunday, Eskom said in a statement.
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Sub-Saharan Africa needs significant additional funding to counter damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, bolster its economic recovery prospects and mitigate threats posed by climate change, according to the World Bank, Bloomberg News reported. The regional economy is expected to grow 3.3% in 2021, after contracting by an estimated 2% last year, the Washington-based lender said Wednesday in its latest Africa Pulse report. It raised its gross domestic product forecast by one percentage point from its April report, largely due to better-than-expected commodity prices.
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