South Africa

Tongaat Hulett Ltd. is asking 10 lenders for a break from payments on as much as 11 billion rand ($793 million) of debt so it can recover from the impact of having to restate accounts, according to Chief Executive Officer Gavin Hudson, Bloomberg News reported. The embattled South African sugar maker is spending about 1 billion rand a year servicing the borrowings and is looking to negotiate a freeze by the end of July, Hudson said in an interview at Tongaat’s 19th century Durban headquarters, an old farmhouse surrounded by sugar-cane fields.

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It’s quite understandable that Steinhoff International Holdings NV wants to create a favorable impression. The embattled retailer is in the final month of debt-restructuring talks, after all. In its results presentation last week, Steinhoff proclaimed in standout pink letters on the first page that it operates in “more than 12,000 stores with 40+ brands in 30+ countries.” Zoom in and the small print below reveals this includes discontinued operations, Bloomberg News reported. It comes after revelations of accounting irregularities that have wiped out more than 95% of its share price.

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South Africa’s indebted power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. was already searching for a chief executive officer and an executive to lead a turnaround of the company. It will now have to cast its net even wider to include a treasurer, Bloomberg News reported. Andre Pillay, who joined Eskom in 2011 and was made treasurer in 2016, will leave at the end of August. Chief Financial Officer Calib Cassim said Eskom requested Pillay remain at his post for the next two months, which sounds like he might have wanted to leave the struggling utility and its $32 billion debt sooner.

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South African wireless carrier Cell C Pty Ltd. has begun talks to delay debt payments and hired consultants to probe its business practices and advise on a restructuring, sending shares in its biggest investor to a decade low, Bloomberg News reported. Cell C is laboring under 8.9 billion rand ($639 million) of debt and trying to secure new funding from a consortium of investors. The company has begun a round of cost cuts, has frozen hiring and is reviewing its contracts, wrote Douglas Craigie Stevenson, Cell C’s chief executive officer, in an open letter.

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A proposal by the biggest owner of Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s debt to convert its $6.4 billion holding into equity has become a rescue option as South Africa seeks to restructure the troubled power utility, Bloomberg News reported. In return, the Public Investment Corp., which manages about $150 billion and is responsible for the pensions of more than 1 million state workers, wants a say over Eskom’s messy finances, including board representation, said five people with direct knowledge of the talks.

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South Africa’s struggling state-owned power utility will name an acting chief executive officer when incumbent Phakamani Hadebe steps down at the end of the month, according to a person familiar with the decision, Bloomberg News reported. The appointment will be made as the government readies a rescue plan for Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., which is saddled with more than $30 billion in debt and isn’t selling enough power to cover its costs.

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The erosion of Turkey’s creditworthiness is a warning signal for South Africa, and investors are ignoring it, according to Informa Financial Markets. The cost of insuring the country’s debt against non-payment dropped to the lowest in 13 months this week, even as a funding crisis at Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. strains government finances while the economy struggles to recover from the worst quarterly contraction since the 2008 financial crisis, Bloomberg News reported.

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South Africa has laid out a timeline for the restructuring of Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.. and pledged that creditors of the state-owned electricity company won’t suffer losses, according to a fund manager who attended a briefing by the head of the country’s Treasury, Bloomberg News reported. Treasury Director-General Dondo Mogajane set out the steps in a meeting with investors in London on Tuesday, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the event wasn’t public.

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Steinhoff International Holdings NV is seeking more than 850 million rand ($59 million) from former Chief Executive Officer Markus Jooste for his role in the accounting crisis that triggered the retailer’s near-collapse, Bloomberg News reported. The owner of Conforama in France and Mattress Firm in the U.S. is looking to claw back base salaries, bonuses and other incentives paid to Jooste over several years from 2009, according to legal papers filed to the High Court in Cape Town. Ex-Chief Financial Officer Ben la Grange is being sued for about 271 million rand as part of the same case.

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A meltdown at some of South Africa’s biggest state companies is intensifying, placing the nation’s finances at risk and frustrating President Cyril Ramaphosa’s efforts to attract new investment and resuscitate a moribund economy, Bloomberg News reported. While monolithic power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., which is tottering on the brink of insolvency, has dominated recent headlines, arms manufacturer Denel SOC Ltd., the South African Broadcasting Corp. and South African Airways have joined the list of the financially destitute entities scrambling for bailouts.

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