South Africa

Yields on Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s dollar bonds traded near one-year lows while those on government debt jumped amid renewed speculation that the South African government may take over the cash-strapped electricity company’s debt, Bloomberg News reported. Moody’s Investors Service now includes the power producer’s government-guaranteed debt in its assessment of the nation’s fiscal situation because the utility can’t service its obligations without the state’s backing, it said in an emailed report Wednesday.

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South Africa’s Public Investment Corp., whose 30% stake in Lonmin Plc is enough to block the miner’s planned takeover by Sibanye Gold Ltd., is concerned that the value of the all-share deal has been eroded, according to a person familiar with the matter, Bloomberg News reported. The state-owned PIC is troubled by the drop in Sibanye’s stock since the deal was announced in December 2017 as the company battled to cut debt, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the deliberations are private.

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Steinhoff International Holdings NV is living on the edge. The global retailer at the center of South Africa’s biggest corporate scandal cut the value of its assets by 15.3 billion euros ($17 billion) because of accounting irregularities, Bloomberg News reported. The company also warned it won’t be able to keep going longer than 12 months unless its debt is reorganized and it skirts mounting lawsuits and possible regulatory fines. At risk is a business with 120,000 employees across chains including Mattress Firm in the U.S., Conforama in France, Poundland in the U.K.

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South Africa’s government has had to bring forward the bailout of state power firm Eskom, after it rushed 5 billion rand ($355 million) to the struggling utility earlier this month to avert a default and said more cash could be needed soon, Reuters reported. Eskom supplies more than 90 percent of electricity in Africa’s most advanced economy but is grappling with cashflow problems and a debt mountain which it is struggling to service.

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South African builder Group Five said on Friday it would dispose of some assets and delay its interim results after filing for bankruptcy protection last month. The group, one of the biggest names in South Africa’s construction industry, said the disposals would help it meet its debt obligations, cover working capital and cut its liabilities, Reuters reported. In a stock exchange statement, it said its business review had delayed the release of its interim results, which had been due at the end of March.

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South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plan to split the state-owned power utility into generation, distribution and transmission divisions will take longer than the government has to revive the business, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Bloomberg News reported. Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. is focusing on trying to avoid implementing power cuts through the year, as it attempts to fix aging power plants and defective new units. Ramaphosa has rolled out a 69 billion-rand ($5 billion) bailout for Eskom over the next three years and a plan to split the business into three.

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Steinhoff International Holdings NV pushed back the dates for the publication of audited earnings for 2017 and 2018 after the findings of a forensic probe by PwC made the process more time consuming and complex, Bloomberg News reported. The South African retailer, which almost collapsed amid an accounting scandal in late 2017, is working toward ensuring that all appropriate adjustments are made to valuations and profitability at various subsidiaries, the company said in a statement on Friday. That has slowed down the process considerably.

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Finance Minister Tito Mboweni urged the South African National Roads Agency SOC Ltd. to reverse a decision not to chase down people who aren’t paying electronic tolls to fund a freeway upgrade around Johannesburg and Pretoria. The state-owned company known as Sanral has faced resistance to e-tolls from motorists since their inception in 2013 and hasn’t issued public debt in at least three years following a drop in revenue caused by the boycott, Bloomberg News reported.

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Troubled South African retailer Steinhoff said on Tuesday it would place up to 694 million shares in KAP Industrial via an accelerated bookbuilding to raise cash to repay debt and shore up its finances, Reuters reported. The placement, which will be offered to institutional investors only, will result in Steinhoff, which has a 26 percent stake in KAP, no longer holding an interest in the diversified industrial group. Steinhoff in December 2017 admitted accounting irregularities, wiping about 85 percent off its market value and throwing it into a liquidity crisis.

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Confidence in South Africa’s civil construction sector is at the lowest in at least 22 years and could stay there for some time, Bloomberg News reported. A gauge tracking sentiment in the sector dropped in the first quarter to the lowest since its inception in 1997, according to a statement Tuesday by FirstRand Group Ltd.’s First National Bank and the Stellenbosch-based Bureau for Economic Research. That means 90 percent of participants in the quarterly survey are unsatisfied with current business conditions.

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