RPT-Fitch rates Sunac's USD notes final 'BB-'

Thu Mar 28, 2013 4:39am EDT

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March 28 (Reuters) - (The following statement was released by the rating agency)

Fitch Ratings has assigned property developer Sunac China Holdings Limited's (Sunac, 'BB-'/Stable) USD500m 9.375% notes due 2018 a final rating of 'BB-'. The assignment of the final rating follows the receipt of documents conforming to information already received and the final rating is in line with the expected rating assigned on 26 Mar 2012.

Key Rating Drivers

Strong Growth: Sunac achieved a 86% year-on-year growth in contracted sales to CNY35.6bn in 2012 despite a difficult year for its many peers in the industry. The company is likely to extend its outperformance in 2013, reflecting strong branding and execution in its core markets, i.e. mid- to high-end segments, primarily in Tier-1 cities.

No Significant Deleveraging: Sunac's leverage, as measured by net debt/adjusted inventory, remained over 40% at end-2012 (2011: 43%), after deconsolidating Shanghai Sunac Greentown Real Estate Development Ltd, a joint venture with Greentown. This is primarily due to continued landbank replenishment and project expansion.

Regulatory Risks Remain High: Sunac's focus on mid- to high-end segments increases its exposure to regulatory risks compared with mass-market peers, given the government's aim to make housing more affordable. Sunac's average selling price in 2012 was CNY17,800 per square meter (psm) compared with China Vanke Co., Ltd's CNY10,900 psm. Vanke is the largest homebuilder in China by sales and focuses on mass- to mid-market housing.

No Impact From Shanghai Acquisition: In March 2013, Sunac and Greentown entered into an agreement to acquire a plot of land in Huangpu District, Shanghai. This acquisition cost Sunac CNY4.5bn for its 50% stake. The project, which is in an upscale location, currently has over 271,000 sqm of completed gross floor area ready for sale, mitigating Sunac's liquidity risk.

Rating Sensitivities:

Negative: Future developments that may, individually or collectively, lead to negative rating action include:

- adverse changes to Sunac's markets and product mix leading to an EBITDA margin below 25% (2012: over 25% excluding impact of revaluation of acquisitions)

- funds from operations (FFO) interest coverage below 3x (2012:2.5x but Fitch expects this to exceed 3x after refinancing trust loans)

- net debt/adjusted inventory above 50% (2012: over 40% after deconsolidating the joint venture)

- lack of growth in contracted sales in 2013

Positive: Positive rating action is not expected in the next 12-18 months due to Sunac's limited product and geographical diversification.

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