Friday, December 2, 2022

SAA remains a financial burden, Treasury warns

South Africa’s resolution to promote a majority stake within the nation’s loss-making nationwide airline SAA represents an ongoing financial danger to the state because the phrases have been skewed closely towards the client, the Nationwide Treasury concedes.

The finer print of the deal that noticed the Takatso Consortium take a 51% shareholding in SAA final yr represents a “contingent legal responsibility,” the Treasury stated in a doc emailed to Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts that was later withdrawn.

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That’s partly as a result of Takatso – made up of a native jet-leasing firm and private-equity agency – has the correct to evaluate whether or not any ongoing liabilities in SAA be settled by the federal government, the Treasury stated within the doc seen by Bloomberg.

The emergence of the considerations got here as Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan was set to look earlier than the public-accounts committee.

Gordhan, a former finance minister, had made the elimination of SAA from the state roster a key tenet of his function overseeing the Division of Public Enterprises, which additionally counts debt-laden utility Eskom amongst its duties.


The phrases “might end result within the state offering funds in extra of its shareholding,” the Treasury stated.

Whereas the letter was withdrawn, Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana stated on the listening to that the Nationwide Treasury didn’t take part within the sale course of and the substance of the “letter stands.”

The division declined to right away remark additional.

The sale of SAA was introduced in June final yr after the airline emerged from prolonged chapter proceedings, throughout which its planes have been grounded for nicely over a yr and the workforce minimize by 80%.

The airline, which used to serve locations throughout Africa and a variety of main international cities, hasn’t made cash since 2011 and obtained state bailouts that totaled billions of rand.

“All of us have the accountability in authorities to scale back the ensures and contingent liabilities,” Gordhan stated within the listening to.

The Division of Public Enterprises declined to remark additional.

Treasury not consulted

The Nationwide Treasury stated it was not consulted on the sale of the stake and remains in the dead of night about a variety of different agreements equivalent to Takatso’s proposed challenge of choice shares to the DPE.

It’s additionally involved that authorities ensures on SAA’s debt stay in place, based on the doc.

The finance minister on the time of the sale, Tito Mboweni, clashed repeatedly with Gordhan over SAA, sustaining the corporate be allowed to go bankrupt and airways operated by personal firms.

He was changed by Godongwana in August.

Learn: PIC owns 30% of Harith, but ‘is not involved’ in 51% SAA acquisition

“The strategic fairness associate might assume very minimal shareholder danger for the acquisition of a majority shareholding…,” the Treasury stated.

Takatso consists of Johannesburg-based World Airways, which owns home airline Raise, and private-equity agency Harith Normal Companions.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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