In what world does a company which reports an 85% decline in pretax profit congratulate itself on its turnaround and describe itself as being on a "firm financial footing"? Welcome to the world of Eskom, which reported net profit of just R1bn for the 2017 financial year, down from R5bn in the previous year. On a gigantic asset base of R710bn, that is not just pathetic — it is scandalous. It means shareholder value is being destroyed on a grand scale, and the shareholder in this case is the South African taxpayer, who has had to cough up big time in the past eight years to provide the capital needed to prop up Eskom’s balance sheet. At the same time, electricity consumers have had to face steep annual tariff increases to provide the revenue Eskom needs to cover its huge cost base — a cost base which is no doubt significantly inflated by the corruption that seems to have become endemic at the power utility. Eskom has again asked the electricity regulator for a one-year emergency-type ...

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