Eskom bonds rise as South Africa prepares to take on part of its debt

PUBLISHED: Wed, 26 Oct 2022 16:55:28 GMT
Rachel Savage and Alexander Winning
An Eskom sign stands outside the headquarters for Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., South Africas state-owned electricity utility at Megawatt Park in Sandton, near Johannesburg, South Africa, on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2015. A plan to reform state-owned power company Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. and bring South Africa and its economy out of the dark is starting to show results, according to Chief Executive Officer Brian Molefe. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images

JOHANNESBURG, Oct 26 (Reuters) – Eskom’s dollar-denominated bonds rose on Wednesday, after South Africa’s Treasury said the government would take on part of the struggling state-owned power utility’s $22 billion debt.

The National Treasury said in its mid-term budget that it could take on between a third and two-thirds of the utility’s debt, but it did not commit to specific details or a timeframe.

Eskom’s 2028 dollar-denominated bond rose 3.136 cents in price to 87.465 cents on the dollar by 1440 GMT, according to Tredeweb data, its highest price for a month and the best performer among the utility’s dollar bonds.

Eskom has been mired in financial crisis for years and is struggling with electricity outages that have reached record levels this year, exacerbating a situation that has been a persistent drag on South Africa’s growth.

A decision has not been taken on whether the government will only take on guaranteed Eskom debt or also some non-guaranteed debt, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana told reporters on Wednesday, saying all options were open for discussion.

The National Treasury said it still needed to consult with lenders and that the final debt plan would be hammered out in talks with them between now and the February budget.

A debt swap is the likeliest option, Kieran Curtis, head of emerging markets local currency debt at Abrdn told Reuters, adding that the announcement was positive for bondholders.

“The reason why they don’t know how much they are going to do is they don’t know yet exactly how many (bondholders) will take this up,” he said.

“It will have to be done by willing sellers. (The government) will not want it classified as a distressed exchange or to look like a restructuring in any way whatsoever.”

(Reporting by Rachel Savage and Alexander Winning, Editing by Marc Jones, Kirsten Donovan)

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