Electricity pylons at an Eskom coal-burning power station near Sasolburg. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO
Electricity pylons at an Eskom coal-burning power station near Sasolburg. Picture: REUTERS/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

Eskom has had its credit rating cut by S&P Global Ratings into the first tier of the C-band, lowering its junk status from "highly speculative" to "substantial risks".

Under S&P’s and Fitch’s nomenclature, the only ratings worse than those that start with C are D ratings — given to corporations that have defaulted on debt repayments.

S&P said in a note e-mailed on Wednesday morning it was downgrading Eskom to CCC+ from B-because of "ongoing liquidity concerns and insufficient government support".

The ratings agency maintained a negative outlook, meaning Eskom may be heading towards a "default imminent with little prospect for recovery" rating if it falls below CCC.

"Eskom remains at risk of facing a distressed exchange situation or default in the next six months despite securing R30bn in short-term funding from local and international funders so far this year," S&P said.

"The negative outlook points to uncertainty regarding the extent and timeliness of government support for Eskom over the coming six months, considering the magnitude of the utility’s funding deficit and refinancing risks."

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