May 24, 2018 / 9:30 AM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-South Africa confirms Hadebe as CEO of struggling Eskom

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CAPE TOWN, May 24 (Reuters) - The South African government has appointed Phakamani Hadebe as chief executive of struggling state power firm Eskom, ending a string of interim appointments that stretches back to 2016.

Hadebe has been leading efforts to stabilise Eskom, a company at the heart of corruption scandals surrounding ousted president Jacob Zuma, as interim CEO since January after an intervention by then-Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

Ramaphosa, who replaced Zuma as South Africa’s president in February, has made reforming state-owned firms a priority as he seeks to bolster economic growth and stave off sovereign credit ratings downgrades.

Eskom is regularly cited by ratings agencies as one of the main threats to the country’s creditworthiness.

“Cabinet has approved the appointment of Mr Phakamani Hadebe as the new group chief executive of Eskom. This is a reflection of the excellent work he has done over the last few months at the institution,” Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan told reporters.

Eskom has not had a permanent CEO since Brian Molefe resigned in November 2016 after a report linked him to the Gupta family, whose relationship with Zuma is the subject of a South African judicial inquiry into state corruption.

The Guptas and Zuma deny wrongdoing.

Under Hadebe’s watch as interim CEO, Eskom averted a liquidity crisis by securing billions of rand in emergency funding from banks.

Hadebe is the former head of investment banking at Barclays Africa and before that was CEO of Land Bank.

Despite a shortage of coal at some power stations, Hadebe said this month that there would be no power blackouts this year.

Hadebe has said he aims to deliver a turnaround strategy for Eskom by September which could include the disposal of some assets. (Reporting by Wendell Roelf; writing by Alexander Winning; editing by Tiisetso Motsoeneng and Jason Neely)

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