JOHANNESBURG, Feb 18 (Reuters) - South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe said on Monday that he would not buy any assets which struggling state power firm Eskom puts up for sale, in response to speculation that he was eyeing an Eskom financial subsidiary.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is Motsepe’s brother-in-law, this month unveiled a plan to split Eskom into three units to boost efficiency, which some analysts see as a path to privatising the utility.
“I have never supported the privatisation of Eskom or the sale of any of its entities or assets,” Motsepe said at a news conference. “African Rainbow Energy & Power (AREP) or any company that I am associated with will not be part of any sale of any entities or assets of Eskom.”
Motsepe’s African Rainbow Capital was reportedly eyeing some or all of Eskom Finance Company, an Eskom subsidiary which lends to employees and which the government put up for sale as part of efforts to shore up the company’s balance sheet.
Eskom this month implemented some of the worst power cuts in several years.
Motsepe, the country’s richest black businessman, who is also the brother-in-law of Energy Minister Jeff Radebe, said: “Having relatives in very high positions in government justifiably raises perceptions of favouritism.”
Motsepe, who also has a large stake in mining company African Rainbow Minerals, also denied on Monday that he had unduly profited from his investments in renewable energy.
AREP’s stakes in various renewables projects, valued at around 800 million rand ($56 million), were bought from private companies, not directly from the government as part of auctions organised the energy ministry, Motsepe said. ($1 = 14.0838 rand) (Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Jan Harvey)