JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s finance ministry said on Monday it did not request a government pension fund to provide 100 billion rand (5.57 billion pounds)to help it bail out struggling state firms, calling any reports to that effect “malicious and unconstructive”.
Citing people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported on Friday that the Treasury needed at least 100 billion rand to rescue debt-laden state-owned power utility Eskom Holdings, oil company PetroSA and aerospace company Denel.
It also said the ministry had asked the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), Africa’s biggest investment fund, to buy its stake worth 12 billion rand in landline provider Telkom (TKGJ.J) to fund a bailout of state airline South African Airways.
In its statement on Monday, the ministry made no mention of any request regarding Telkom, referring only to a 100 billion rand figure.
The ministry said Finance Minister had “noted with concern” reports it “wanted to use R100-billion of the funds in the Public Investment Corporation to bail out State Owned Enterprises.”
“The Minister would like to clarify that these reports are untrue. No formal or informal request has been sent to the PIC for such funds,” the ministry said in the statement.
PIC’s Head of Corporate Affairs, Deon Botha, told Reuters the fund had held “discussions” with the ministry regarding such a purchase but that it would not be pushed into making an investment decision.
PIC Chief Executive Daniel Matjila rejected the Treasury’s request, according to the report, according to Bloomberg.
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has called an urgent meeting with the PIC board to deal with the matter, the ministry also said.
Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky