South Africa's largest nonfood retailer announced this week that it had reduced its debt to R7-billion. Edcon was drowning in R26.7-billion of debt when US-based private equity firm Bain Capital announced last year that it was selling it. But the debt steadily increased to R29-billion. Last year, Bain handed ownership of the group to creditors in a debt-for-equity swop and, after a period of restructuring, the debt is down to R7-billion. The retailer's new major shareholder group comprises banking and investment firms such as Harvard Pensions Fund, Barclays Africa and FirstRand. When the restructuring ended on Wednesday, Singapore-based Franklin Templeton officially became the largest shareholder. Cedric Rimaud, director of emerging-markets research at Gimme Credit in Bangkok, said Edcon's reduction of its total debt was significant. "With R7-billion in total debt, Edcon will be able to bring its total leverage down to a much more manageable level," he said. This would take the burd...

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