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Treasury to try cash in on optimism to tune of $3-billion

eNCA logo eNCA 2018-03-13
web_photo_nene_13_03_2018: Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene on the sidelines of an investor roadshow in London on 13 March 2018. © Karin Strohecker / REUTERS Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene on the sidelines of an investor roadshow in London on 13 March 2018.

LONDON - The Treasury plans to use optimism generated by political changes in the country to tap international bond markets for up to $3-billion (R35.5-billion).

Tshepiso Moahloli, chief director of liability management at the Treasury, told reporters it could potentially issue in currencies other than dollars and in segments, rather than $3-billion all at once.

"We do take the opportunity when the market is conducive and currently the market is conducive," Moahloli said.

She was speaking in London alongside Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene.

The country's final investment-grade credit rating, by Moody's, is hanging by a single notch, with the agency due to publish later this month the results of a review for a possible downgrade.

Nene said he believed South Africa was telling a "credible" economic story.

But he acknowledged that it was unclear if Moody's would cut the rating to "junk" and that both the agency and private investors were asking many questions about government plans to transfer land.

WATCH: EXCLUSIVE: Nene on land expropriation, the 'Cyril effect'

Although Ramaphosa is enjoying something of a honeymoon period with markets and investors, plans to change the constitution to allow land redistribution without compensation is raising concerns - notwithstanding the fact that he told Moody's last week that it would be implemented so as not to harm the economy or food security.

Nene said he, too, had met senior Moody's analysts on Monday in London and gone through plans to cut spending and increase revenues.

"We are looking at what needs to be done to stimulate growth, among other things building confidence... credibility.

"... It is very difficult to read the body language of rating agencies, but I think it is a credible story we are telling," Nene said.

A downgrade would have a negative effect, he said, adding that questions on the land reforms "came from almost all the conversations we had" with Moody's as well as investors.

The plan entailed "a whole host of things including completing the land audit, where unused land is, what is it and who are those people that actually require the use of land," he said, suggesting that it could be implemented quickly.

"I don't think as the government we should wait only for the outcome of the constitutional review committee's report," he said.

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