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March 13 (Reuters) - (The following statement was released by the rating agency)
Fitch Ratings says in a new report that the Outlook is Stable on most of Tunisian leasing companies' National Long-Term Ratings, but the country's weak economic environment could limit the potential for upgrade.
The National Ratings of four out of eight rated Tunisian leasing companies are driven by shareholder support. Shareholder's support is key for Arab International Lease (AIL; AA+(tun)/Stable), Attijari Leasing (AL; BB+(tun)/Stable), Arab Tunisian Lease (ATL; BBB(tun)/Negative) and Modern Leasing (ML; BBB(tun)/Stable). The National Ratings of these companies are underpinned by Fitch's expectations of support from their majority shareholders, in case of need. Fitch considers that the respective shareholders' propensity to support AIL, AL, ATL and ML is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
On the other hand, Compagnie Internationale de Leasing's (CIL; BBB-(tun)/Negative), El Wifack Leasing's (EWL; BBB-(tun)/Stable), Hannibal Lease SA's (HL; BB-(tun)/Stable) and Tunisie Leasing's (TL; BBB+(tun)/ Stable) National Ratings are based on Fitch's assessment of their standalone creditworthiness.
The ratings of EWL, HL and TL are sensitive to a material deterioration in asset quality leading to an erosion of their capital position. Their ratings would also be downgraded if their access to liquidity is constrained, either for bond issuance or for bank credit lines. These, however, are not Fitch's central scenario. A downgrade of CIL's ratings could result from continuous pressure on asset quality, solvency and profitability ratios.
Potential for rating upgrades at EWL, HL and TL is limited as the Tunisian fragile economic environment still weighs on these companies' asset quality and liquidity. However, significant increases in capital ratios and sustained improvements in asset quality could lead to an upgrade.
The full report, 'Peer Review: Tunisian Leasing Companies', is available at www.fitchratings.com or by clicking on the link below.
Link to Fitch Ratings' Report: Peer Review: Tunisian Leasing Companies