Business 15.9.2016 07:57 am

Eskom to engage Moody’s on possible downgrade

The move follows Moody’s Investor Services’ decision on Wednesday to place Eskom on Ba1 senior unsecured ratings on credit review.

Eskom on Thursday said it would be engaging Moody’s Investor Services, following concerns raised by the ratings agency about the power utility’s funding risk after Futuregrowth withdrew suspended new funding to the state-owned company.

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The Eskom move follows Moody’s ratings update on Wednesday, which placed the power utility on Ba1 senior unsecured ratings on credit review.

Asset manager Futuregrowth, which manages client assets of about R170 billion, earlier this month announced its intention to suspend additional debt finance to state-owned companies, including Eskom, because of its concerns about their governance and oversight issues.

Moody’s said it placed the power utility on this review based on the “rising funding challenges faced by Eskom in the context of an adverse regulatory framework and an evolving political environment”.

Moody’s also cited last month’s North Gauteng High Court ruling that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) should review its decision to allow the power utility to increase electricity tariffs by 9.4 percent from April.

Moody’s said Eskom would likely continue to see a material growth in debt levels because cost-reflective tariffs were yet to be implemented.

Eskom chief financial officer Anoj Singh in a statement on Thursday described Moody’s credit review “unfortunate”.

“The review by Moody’s is unfortunate given the progress made towards improving the company’s financial profile, successful implementation of the operations turnaround plan and Eskom’s healthy liquidity position,” Singh said.

“We will, however, continue to engage with the rating agency to resolve the concerns that resulted in this decision. We remain confident that continued engagements with all relevant stakeholders and government will contribute towards a positive outcome for Eskom and the country.”

Singh said Eskom remained committed to delivering the much needed capacity while maintaining the financial sustainability of the company.

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Meanwhile, Moody’s also placed SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) on review for downgrade based on ongoing cash flows pressure, despite a number of interventions by the national government to encourage e-toll payments.

– African News Agency (ANA)

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