Standard & Poor’s Reaffirms ATI’s ‘A/Stable’ Credit Rating, Remains Bullish on Outlook

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NAIROBI, 13 October, 2011 – International rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has reaffirmed its “A/Stable” credit rating given to the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI). With this rating, which ATI has maintained since it was first rated in 2008, the organisation remains the second highest rated institution in Africa based on its strong capitalization and liquidity.

Released on 29 September, S&P’s report projects a ‘stable’ outlook for the pan-African insurer influenced by its strategy to expand into new African markets and increase revenue and membership capital. The report outlined the rationale for the rating which was based on strong positions in the categories of Capitalization, Financial Flexibility, Liquidity and Investments.

In the Liquidity category, ATI’s position is listed as ‘strong’. As of 31 December, 2010 ATI’s total invested funds of $103 million were equivalent to 62% of net outstanding commitments of $167 million. Of these net outstanding commitments, 78% were non-commercial risks and therefore recoverable from member states under ATI’s preferred creditor status.

ATI also scored strongly in the area of Capitalization where S&P views the organisation’s capital adequacy to be ‘extremely strong’. This is based on ATI’s capital requirements, which largely exceeds S&P’s minimum capital requirements for insurance companies.

And in recognition of ATI’s management, S&P also commended the organisation for its ‘clear and focused’ management and corporate strategy. Chief Executive Officer George Otieno who recently celebrated his one year anniversary at the helm leads ATI’s management team. “This is an important milestone for us because it reinforces that we are on the right track to ensuring that the fundamentals are sound. This includes hiring the right people, managing risks effectively and keeping an eye on the bottom line,” notes Mr. Otieno.

Credit ratings are professional opinions of an organisation’s ability to meet its financial obligations and to service its debts. The rating is based on several administrative and financial factors including Management and Corporate Strategies, Accounting and Financial Reporting and Operating Performance. S&P ratings are listed from the highest of ‘AAA’ through to the lowest of a ‘D’ rating which can be positive or negative. Generally ratings in the category from ‘AAA’ through to ‘A’ are considered to be the strongest while obligors in the equivalent ‘B’ range have adequate capacity to meet their financial obligations. For a detailed list of ratings and definitions see the table below, Standard & Poor’s Rating Guide.

African countries and organisations have traditionally rated less positively due to lack of financial information, transparency and other factors. In this regard, ATI provides a benefit to its African member countries because they can attract investors by offering an ATI-backed guarantee that is supported by a strong credit rating. This need is underscored by the ratings allotted many African countries. For instance, in S&P’s report issued on 28 June, 2011 which rated countries on the ease in which they allow transfer and convertibility of currencies, no ATI member country was rated higher than a ‘BB-‘ in contrast to Canada, Germany, the UK and the U.S. which all rated ‘AAA’.

Standard & Poor’s Rating Guide

Rating

Definition

AAA

An obligor that has extremely strong capacity to meet its financial commitments

AA

An obligor has very strong capacity to meet its financial commitments

A

An obligor has strong capacity to meet its financial commitments. Adverse economic conditions or changing circumstances may impact on this ability

BBB

An obligor has adequate capacity to meet its financial commitments. Adverse economic conditions and changing circumstances may impact on this ability

BB

Can meet its financial obligations in the near term but faces major ongoing uncertainties and exposure to adverse business, financial or economic conditions

B

Same as BB with a greater risk profile

CCC

An obligor that is vulnerable and dependent upon favourable business, financial and economic conditions to meet its financial obligations

CC

An obligor that his highly vulnerable

R

An obligor that is under regulatory supervision owing to its financial position

SD or D

(Selective Default) An obligor that has failed to pay one or more of its financial obligations 

 

ATI is supporting its African member countries with political and commercial risk insurance cover on large scale infrastructure projects. This insurance helps to bring in investors and to ultimately fill a financing gap. As of September 2011, ATI has already recorded support of $575 million worth of infrastructure projects ranging from rehabilitation of ports, roads and water supply systems to installation of power plants in Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

To access the detailed S&P report, please visit this link:  http://www.ati-aca.org/file/S&P_Ratings_African_Trade_Insurance_Agency(2011).pdf  

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