Eskom in 'severe difficulty' as interim profit plunges 89% - TechCentral

Eskom in ‘severe difficulty’ as interim profit plunges 89%

Eskom chairman Jabu Mabuza

Eskom’s first-half profit plunged 89% and the situation at the state-owned power utility is likely to worsen in the next six months, chairman Jabu Mabuza said on Wednesday.

Profit plunged to R671-million in the six months to September from R6.3-billion a year earlier, while finance costs rose to R15.2-billion from R11.9-billion rand, the company said in a presentation in Johannesburg.

The company’s debt burden is “impossibly high”, Mabuza said, even as it reported improved liquidity and announced that 73% of funding for 2018/2019 is secured. “We’re not selling enough electricity’’ in order recover costs, he said, saying sales volumes dropped 0.8% in the period. “Eskom is in a state of severe financial difficulty.’’

Eskom is struggling with high debt and declining demand as it takes steps to emerge from multiple scandals involving graft and mismanagement. In the meantime the threat of blackouts looms, which would add pressure on the economy that plunged into a recession earlier this year.

The utility has experienced low coal stocks, and costs for the fuel rose by 7% during the first half. Power from independent producers increased 29%, mainly due to volumes being higher. A higher-than-planned wage settlement earlier this year is weighing on the balance sheet, it said.

Acting chief financial offer Calib Cassim was appointed to the role on a permanent basis.  — Reported by Hilton Shone and Paul Burkhardt, (c) 2018 Bloomberg LP

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