South Africa

An oil blending and storage company secured deals to supply South Africa’s state power utility with fuel oil worth more than 15 billion rand ($1 billion) at inflated prices by paying inducements, including donations to the ruling party, a forensic investigation has found, Bloomberg News reported. Econ Oil & Energy Ltd. allegedly won the contracts with the help of Thandi Marah, then senior manager of business enablement at Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., who interfered in the tender processes, said legal firm Bowmans, which Eskom commissioned to conduct the probe.
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Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. has taken steps to protect its operations from disruptions after a contractual dispute with Oracle Corp.’s South African unit put its technical support services at risk, Bloomberg News reported. The state power utility confirmed on Monday that it’s involved in the disagreement in which Oracle initially claimed Eskom underpaid it by about 7.3 billion rand ($500 million).
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South Africa’s largest lender to farmers has delayed a debt restructuring deal with creditors because of conditions attached to a government bailout, forcing it to repay what it owes to Standard Chartered Plc, Bloomberg News reported. Land & Agricultural Development Bank said on Wednesday that a March 31 deadline to reach an agreement won’t be met. The government’s 7 billion rand ($474 million) commitment required “a material change” to previous versions of plans to deliver on the lender’s “development and transformation objective,” it said in response to emailed questions.
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The administrators of South African Airways (SAA) hope to hand control of the business back to management by the end of the month, the state-owned airline said in a letter to affected parties seen by Reuters. SAA has been under a form of bankruptcy protection since December 2019, and its fortunes worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. All operations were mothballed in September 2020 when funds ran low. The letter, dated March 18, said SAA’s board of directors and management were working on a plan to resume flights, without giving a date when that might happen.
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Nedbank Group Ltd. is leading discussions to restructure South African power utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.’s 464 billion ($32 billion) debt load, Bloomberg News reported. The parties met in recent days, and one of the options is to transfer at least 100 billion rand of debt to a special-purpose vehicle that would be overseen by the Public Investment Corp., Africa’s biggest fund manager.
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South Africa’s High Court ruled that Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. can recover 10 billion rand ($681 million) from consumers, enabling the state power utility to raise electricity tariffs by 16%, Bloomberg News reported. The ruling comes after Eskom and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa reached an agreement on the matter, the regulator said in an emailed statement Tuesday. It comes as Nersa appeals a ruling in July 2020 that enables Eskom to boost revenue by 69 billion rand over the next three years.
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South African Airways (SAA) has received a further 5 billion rand ($346 million) from the Department of Public Enterprises to help make severance payments to laid-off staff as part of its rescue plan, administrators of the plan said on Tuesday, Reuters reported. SAA entered a local form of bankruptcy protection in December 2019 after roughly a decade of financial losses, with its fortunes worsening after the COVID-19 pandemic grounded flights. The government committed to providing 10.5 billion rand to bailout the airline in October’s mid-term budget.
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Steinhoff said on Monday former auditor Deloitte has agreed to pay $85 million to certain claimants as part of the retailer’s proposed $1 billion global lawsuit settlement plan, and that a company opposing the plan had withdrawn its court application, Reuters reported. The announcement sent Steinhoff’s Johannesburg-listed shares soaring 15.70% to reach their highest in nearly two and a half years, while its primary Frankfurt-listed shares jumped by 18.55% by 1231 GMT.

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South Africa’s National Treasury will probably keep the levels of its bond auctions constant until the end of the fiscal year, even with domestic-debt issuance running ahead of target, Bloomberg News reported. The Treasury is unlikely to “adjust its in-year bond auction levels due to the short time period remaining after the presentation of the 2021 budget,” its media desk said Wednesday in an emailed response to questions, while emphasizing that the department “does not front-run the budget.” Finance Minister Tito Mboweni is due to present the national budget on Feb.

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A 200 billion rand ($13 billion) loan program, one of the linchpins of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to shore up a South African economy devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, may not even reach 10% of its target, Bloomberg News reported. Banks have distributed 17.8 billion rand since the initiative started in May through to Jan. 16, the Banking Association of South Africa said in a statement on Wednesday. At the current rate, only 18.9 billion rand will be allocated under the plan, it said.

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