South Africa’s National Treasury has stepped in with a bailout package for Eskom after Standard & Poor’s said it might downgrade the state utility’s credit rating.

Pretoria-based National Treasury said in a statement yesterday: “Cabinet approved a package to support a strong and sustainable Eskom to ensure that the energy security of the country is maintained, as well as supporting gross domestic product growth.”

The state will leverage “non-strategic” assets to fund a capital injection and Eskom will sell an additional ZAR50 billion (US$4.5 billion) in bonds, the Treasury said in an e-mailed statement.

Standard & Poor’s had said it would wait for the government’s decision before deciding if it would cut Eskom’s credit rating to junk.

While the government has identified the assets that could be sold, it’s too early to disclose what they are, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene told reporters including Bloomberg in Johannesburg yesterday.

Eskom has a ZAR225 billion shortfall in funding over five years through March 2018.

Last month ESI-Africa.com also reported that Eskom was in talks with banks for a secured syndicated loan of up to US$1 billion.