SA’s national power utility’s woes have threatened to shut down industries, while the flagship airline has been bailed out repeatedly. Now a scramble to help a retailer selling school shoes and fast fashion suggests that it, too, may be seen as too big to fail. Edcon Holdings has about 30,000 employees, a supply chain that includes 750 companies and floor space of about a tenth of occupancy in the country’s biggest shopping malls, more than that of any other company. A collapse could aggravate the unemployment crisis and reduce income from commercial property rentals. The Johannesburg-based group is in talks with the biggest lenders and landlords to get more cash and reduce rentals as it struggles with a debt burden that is a legacy of the way its 2007 takeover by Boston-based Bain Capital Private Equity was financed. “If Edcon were to fail, it would be a big challenge for SA and it’s in everyone’s interests to get a deal signed,” said Wynand Smit, a property analyst at Anchor Stock...

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