South Africa’s Eskom rules out bond issue for now: CEO

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The boss of South African utility Eskom has ruled out for now issuing bonds to help fund $21 billion of new power plants, saying on Tuesday the credit market was not favourable.

The state-owned company, which provides virtually all of South Africa’s electricity, is building three new power plants to help shore up power reserves, and expects to add 5,620 megawatts (MW) to the network by 2018.

“We will only issue a bond based on market conditions. At the moment they don’t seem very favourable,” chief executive Brian Molefe told Reuters on the sidelines of a company function.

Molefe, drafted in last April from state rail and freight firm Transnet to stabilise the power producer and help it keep the lights on, said Eskom was instead in talks with banks about multi-lateral loans.

“We have the option of going to banks and DFIs (development finance institutions) for multi-lateral loans, which is what we are negotiating now,” he said.

But Molefe said the Eskom, whose Ba1 credit rating is under review by Moody’s for potential downgrade, was not under any liquidity pressure because it had raised enough money to cover its capital needs for both the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years.

Eskom faced a crippling cash crunch last year that forced the government to inject nearly 80 billion rand in equity. The utility also had to impose almost daily rolling power cuts that hurt economic growth to prevent the grid from collapsing.

Eskom has said it does not expect power cuts this year.

($1 = 15.4771 rand)


(Reporting by Tiisetso Motsoeneng; Editing by Mark Potter)

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