Embattled South African state power utility Eskom’s debt burden, described by Goldman Sachs Group as the biggest threat to the nation’s economy, has burgeoned, compounding the difficulty the government faces in formulating a turnaround plan.
The company’s debt is approaching R500-billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from public records, including bonds and issued loans, up from about R370-billion a year ago. While the utility declined to comment on the current number, its CEO, Phakamani Hadebe, last month put total debt at about R450-billion.
Eskom hasn’t been selling enough power to cover its operating costs and interest payments, and has been forced to implement rotating blackouts over the past few years to prevent a collapse of the national grid as its fleet of ageing and poorly maintained plants struggled to keep pace with demand.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced plans earlier this year to split the company into three