April 15, 2015 / 3:31 AM / 5 years ago

Fitch Affirms 3 Indonesian Palm Oil Producers; Outlook Stable

(The following statement was released by the rating agency) JAKARTA/SYDNEY, April 14 (Fitch) Fitch Ratings has affirmed the National Long-Term Ratings of Indonesia-based palm oil producers PT Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology Tbk (SMART), PT Ivo Mas Tunggal (IMT) and PT Sawit Mas Sejahtera (SMS) at 'AA(idn)', with Stable Outlooks. SMART, IMT and SMS are wholly owned by Golden Agri Resources, Ltd (GAR). At the same time the agency has affirmed SMART's IDR1trn bonds due in 2017 and 2019 at 'AA(idn)'. 'AA' National Ratings denote expectations of very low default risk relative to other issuers or obligations in the same country. The default risk inherently differs only slightly from that of the country's highest rated issuers or obligations. KEY RATINGS DRIVERS Delayed Deleveraging: Fitch now expects GAR to begin deleveraging about a year later than previously forecast, because of low CPO prices, thinner downstream margins and disappointing performance of its China operations. The affirmation of the ratings on the three GAR subsidiaries is driven by Fitch's expectation that GAR's consolidated profile will improve, with FFO-adjusted leverage falling to around 4x by end-2016. This is in line with management's expectation that losses at GAR's Chinese operation in 2014 are non-recurring, the global CPO price will rebound in 2016, and higher refining capacity utilisation will improve overall downstream margins. Strong Linkage, Rating Equalised: The ratings of SMART, IMT, and SMS are equalised with that of GAR's credit profile, driven by Fitch's view of strong strategic and operating linkages. These three subsidiaries account for about 70% of GAR's consolidated CPO production and planted area. Fitch expects the linkages to remain strong over the medium term, supported by the subsidiaries' strong plantation contribution, which is a result of their high productivity and favourable age profile. Liquid Inventories, Limited Capex: Around 30%-40% of GAR's debts are used as working capital to finance inventories (CPO and other palm oil products) that are easily monetised, which mitigate risks from GAR's higher-than-expected leverage. Further, as major debt-funded capex has been completed, Fitch does not expect GAR to commit to more large-scale capex that will increase its leverage profile in the medium term. Large Plantation Holdings: GAR's credit profile is underpinned by its holdings of large plantations with favourable operating profiles, which lead to strong cash flow generation. GAR is second-largest palm oil producer globally by planted area, with mature plantation profile at around 14 years as of end 2014. GAR's high plantation productivity and efficient operations allow the group to maintain a low production cash cost that helps to counterbalance volatility in commodity prices. Diversified Funding Access: Over the past few years, GAR has established a good track record in accessing various funding avenues. GAR has been listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange since 1999 and has access to regional debt markets. It also has good banking relationships, which provide a competitive cost of funds. Although Fitch believes the Sinar Mas group's history of debt restructuring will continue to constrain GAR's funding access, the company's improved funding access shows that the risk has waned. GAR has USD390m of convertible bonds that may be redeemed in October 2015 at the option of the bondholders, which the company plans to refinance through medium-term notes (MTN) and bank loans. In April 2014 GAR established a USD 1.5bn (multicurrency) MTN programme. The company has USD330m in unutilised working capital lines. KEY ASSUMPTIONS Fitch's key assumptions within our rating case for the issuer include: - Flat CPO price of USD650/ ton in 2015 through 2018. - Refining utilisation improves to 85% in 2015 and 92% in 2016 from 75% in 2014. - Plantation productivity maintained - China operations break even in 2015 RATING SENSITIVITIES Negative: Future developments that may, individually or collectively, lead to negative rating action include: - Consolidated FFO leverage at more than 4x on a sustained basis. Fitch expects leverage will remain high in 2015 but gradually come down closer to 4x by end-2016. - EBITDA margins at less than 8.5% on a sustained basis (2014: 6.6%) Positive rating action is not expected over the medium term, due to GAR's high leverage profile. Contact: Primary Analyst Erlin Salim Associate Director +62 21 2988 6811 PT Fitch Ratings Indonesia DBS Bank Tower 24th Floor Suite 2403 Jl Prof Dr Satrio Kav 3-5 Jakarta 12940 Committee Chairperson Vicky Melbourne Senior Director +61 2 8256 03 Media Relations: Leslie Tan, Singapore, Tel: +65 67 96 7234, Email: leslie.tan@fitchratings.com. Note to editors: Fitch's National ratings provide a relative measure of creditworthiness for rated entities in countries with relatively low international sovereign ratings and where there is demand for such ratings. The best risk within a country is rated 'AAA' and other credits are rated only relative to this risk. National ratings are designed for use mainly by local investors in local markets and are signified by the addition of an identifier for the country concerned, such as 'AAA(idn)' for National ratings in Indonesia. Specific letter grades are not therefore internationally comparable. Additional information is available at www.fitchratings.com. Applicable criteria, "Corporate Rating Methodology: Including Short-Term Ratings and Parent and Subsidiary Linkage", dated 28 May 2014, and "National Scale Ratings Criteria", dated 30 October 2013, are available at www.fitchratings.com. Applicable Criteria and Related Research: Corporate Rating Methodology - Including Short-Term Ratings and Parent and Subsidiary Linkage here National Scale Ratings Criteria here Additional Disclosure Solicitation Status here ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: here IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY'S PUBLIC WEBSITE 'WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM'. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH'S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE 'CODE OF CONDUCT' SECTION OF THIS SITE. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH WEBSITE.

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