Ministers Meet Ratings Firms as S. Africa Seeks to Avert Cut

  • Leaders meet S&P Monday after Moody’s talks last week
  • S&P, Fitch rate nation’s foreign debt at sub-investment grade

QuickTake: South Africa's Economic, Political Strife

South African ministers met with S&P Global Ratings on Monday after discussions with Moody’s Investors Service last week as the nation seeks to avoid another downgrade.

Africa’s most-industrialized economy was reduced to junk by both S&P and Fitch Ratings Ltd. last month due to concern over policy continuity and political instability. The moves came after President Jacob Zuma removed Pravin Gordhan as finance minister, replacing him with a minister with little financial experience. The changes to the cabinet would “weaken standards of governance and public finances,” Fitch said at the time.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba and his deputy Sfiso Buthelezi were present to meet with S&P on Monday, Treasury spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete said by phone. They were joined by Rob Davies, Lynne Brown and Mmamoloko Kubayi, who lead the ministries for trade, public enterprises and energy respectively. The company also met with business leaders and trade unions, he said.

S&P is due to make another ratings announcement on the nation on June 2, while Moody’s has placed the country under review for a downgrade.

Both S&P and Fitch currently rate South Africa at BB+, the highest non-investment grade, while the nation is two levels above junk at Moody’s. The country had held investment-grade standing at all three companies since 2000. Fitch also cut the nation’s local-currency rating to junk last month.

The rand weakened 0.3 percent to 13.2678 per dollar by 7:50 a.m. in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

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