State-owned power utility Eskom has plummeted from its position as one of the top five electricity producers in the world 10 years ago to a company overladen with debt and financial risk. While Eskom’s debt was once rated above that of the sovereign by the major ratings agencies, today it is ranked junk and below the sovereign on the Moody’s scale, as well as on the scale of two other agencies. A bail-out three years ago, which included the conversion of a R60bn government loan into equity and a R23bn cash injection, appears to have had only a temporary effect. Eskom is again burning cash and the government has begun to talk about "soft support" for its balance sheet. The company will present its latest set of financial results on Wednesday. All this takes place while a cloud of corruption hangs over key executives, with no sign yet of either firm action against them or the installation of a strong and determined board to sort out the mess.

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