Announcements

GCR affirms Grindrod Bank Limited’s rating of BBB+(ZA); Outlook Stable.

Johannesburg, 26 April 2018 – Global Credit Ratings has affirmed the national scale ratings assigned to Grindrod Bank Limited of BBB+(ZA) and A2(ZA) in the long term and short term respectively; with the outlook accorded as Stable. Furthermore, Global Credit Ratings has affirmed the international scale long-term local currency rating assigned to Grindrod Bank Limited of BB-; with the outlook accorded as Negative.

SUMMARY RATING RATIONALE

Global Credit Ratings (“GCR”) has accorded the above credit ratings to Grindrod Bank Limited (“Grindrod Bank” or “the bank”) based on the following key criteria:

The accorded ratings reflect Grindrod Bank’s established niche business model, offering banking products and services to private, corporate and institutional clients in South Africa, coupled with its resilient financial performance. The bank’s risk appropriate capitalisation, sound asset quality and liquid balance sheet, mitigate to an extent its structural reliance on confidence sensitive wholesale funding.

Grindrod Bank is a subsidiary (96.6%) of Grindrod Limited (“the group”), an established freight and financial services group listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange. A group restructure in FY17 (including divesture from the underperforming shipping and rail businesses, which will be separately listed, as announced in November 2017), has resulted in a leaner albeit stronger balance sheet with low leverage. The group had a consolidated capital base of R14.2bn and assets of R34.9bn at FY17 (FY16: 15.8bn and R39.1bn respectively, including discontinued operations). The bank contributed 47.7% of the group’s consolidated assets at FY17 (FY16: 38.87%). Grindrod Bank has implicit linkages with the parent, such as shared corporate identity, common management (ie, board membership) and related party loans/deposits (albeit small at 0.5% of total loans and 3.8% of total deposits at FY17), as well as backing through guarantees on some debt issues (1.6 % of total funding at FY17). The repositioning of the group which is still ongoing and the impact on the bank’s support environment is unlikely to affect Grindrod Bank’s current ratings.

Capital adequacy metrics remained stable with the bank reporting a total risk weighted capital adequacy ratio (“CAR”) of 13.7% at FY17 (FY16: 13.7%), which was well above the Basel III regulatory minimum of 10.25%, as currently applicable in South Africa.

The gross non-performing loans (“NPLs”) ratio decreased to 1.2% at FY17 (FY16: 4.9%) and compared favourably to the domestic banking industry average gross NPL ratio of 2.9% at end-2017 (2016: 2.8%). Asset quality strengthened following the settlement of a single name exposure to the real estate sector (c.60% of NPLs) during FY17 and to a lesser extent write-offs. Impairment coverage remains low due to the select clientele and highly collateralised loan book, and therefore the higher expected recoveries. Specific provisions covered 4.3% of NPLs at FY17 (FY16: 4.2%), pre-collateral. Providing comfort, the NPLs net of provisions to capital ratio decreased to 6.6% at FY17 (FY16: 25.6%), indicative of a sufficient capital cushion. According to management (based on high level assessments), IFRS 9 effective 1 January 2018, is not expected to significantly increase provisioning levels or have a material impact on earnings and capital metrics.

Net profit before tax grew by 14% in FY17 (FY16: 38.6%), supported by loan growth and a decline in impairment charges, albeit partly subdued by the cut in repo rate during the year and higher growth in operating expenses driven by staff and IT related costs. Overall, the ROaE and ROaA decreased to 21.6% (FY16: 23.8%) and 1.2% (FY16: 1.3%) respectively for FY17. GCR takes note of the potential loss/diminution in net fee income (making up 17.9% of total operating income in FY17 (FY16: 19.3%) due to recent pronouncements relating to a contract with the South African Social Security Agency (“SASSA”) in which Grindrod Bank facilitates monthly grant payments for SASSA’s grant recipients through bank accounts held with the bank. The contract was renewed for a further six months effective 1 April 2018 (in place for the last six years) but only for rural recipients, while urban recipients (70% of SASSA grant recipients) have been given the option to choose a bank of choice as SASSA in partnership with the Post Office finalises preparations to take over grant payments. The bank also benefits from the free float provided by the funds (around R11.2bn grant payments are processed through the bank each month) although the deposits are largely transitory and therefore ringfenced for liquidity management purposes.

Grindrod Bank maintains a highly liquid balance sheet which partly ameliorates liquidity risk given the reliance on short dated wholesale deposits. The bank’s Liquidity Coverage Ratio (“LCR”) was maintained well above regulatory requirement of 90% in FY17. Furthermore, the bank reported a Net Stable Funding Ratio (“NSFR”) of 127% at 30 March 2018, against a regulatory minimum of 100% (effective in 2018).

The maintenance of healthy asset quality indicators, sound capitalisation adequate liquidity buffers and steady earnings, as well as enhanced market position, would further enhance the bank’s financial profile. The national scale ratings will be sensitive to a significant deterioration in asset quality, long-term earnings prospects and capital/liquidity from current levels. Furthermore, the international scale rating will be sensitive to changes in the sovereign rating of the country.

NATIONAL SCALE RATINGS HISTORY   INTERNATIONAL SCALE RATING HISTORY
     
Initial rating (April 2016)   Initial rating (April 2016)
Long-term: BBB+(ZA); Short-term: A2(ZA)   Long-term: BB
Outlook: Stable   Outlook: Stable
     
Last rating (April 2017)   Last rating (May 2017)
Long-term: BBB+(ZA); Short-term: A2(ZA)   Long term: BB-
Outlook: Stable   Outlook: Negative

ANALYTICAL CONTACTS

Primary Analyst

  Committee Chairperson
Jennifer Mwerenga   Marc Chadwick
Senior Analyst   Sector Head: Insurance Ratings
(011) 784-1771   (011) 784-1771
Jennifer@globalratings.net   chadwick@globalratings.net

APPLICABLE METHODOLOGIES AND RELATED RESEARCH

Global Criteria for Rating Banks and Other Financial Institutions, updated March 2017

South Africa Bank Statistical Bulletin (September 2017)

Grindrod Bank Rating Report (2016-17)

RATING LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS

ALL GCR’S CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTP://GLOBALRATINGS.NET/UNDERSTANDING-RATINGS. IN ADDITION, GCR’S RATING SCALES AND DEFINITIONS ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD AT THE FOLLOWING LINK: HTTP://GLOBALRATINGS.NET/RATINGS-INFO. GCR’S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, PUBLICATION TERMS AND CONDITIONS AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE AT HTTP://GLOBALRATINGS.NET.

SALIENT FEATURES OF ACCORDED RATINGS

GCR affirms that a.) no part of the ratings was influenced by any other business activities of the credit rating agency; b.) the ratings were based solely on the merits of the rated entity, security or financial instrument being rated; c.) such ratings were an independent evaluation of the risks and merits of the rated entity, security or financial instrument; and d.) the validity of the rating is for a maximum of 12 months, or earlier as indicated by the applicable credit rating document.

Grindrod Bank Limited participated in the rating process via face-to-face management meetings and other written correspondence. Furthermore, the quality of information received was considered adequate and has been independently verified where possible.

The credit ratings have been disclosed to Grindrod Bank Limited with no contestation of the ratings.

The information received Grindrod Bank Limited and other reliable third parties to accord the credit rating(s) included:

  • Audited financial results of the bank at 31 December 2017 (plus four years of comparative numbers);
  • Unaudited management accounts of the bank for the two months ending 28 February 2018;
  • Corporate governance and enterprise risk framework;
  • Reserving methodologies and capital management policy;
  • Industry comparative data; and
  • A breakdown of facilities available and related counterparties.

The ratings above were solicited by, or on behalf of, Grindrod Bank Limited, and therefore, GCR has been compensated for the provision of the ratings.

GLOSSARY OF TERMS/ACRONYMS USED IN THIS DOCUMENT AS PER GCR’S FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS GLOSSARY

Arrears An overdue debt, liability or obligation. An account is said to be ‘in arrears’ if one or more payments have been missed in transactions where regular payments are contractually required.
Asset A resource with economic value that a company owns or controls with the expectation that it will provide future benefit.
Asset Quality Refers primarily to the credit quality of a bank’s earning assets, the bulk of which comprises its loan portfolio, but will also include its investment portfolio as well as off balance sheet items. Quality in this context means the degree to which the loans that the bank has extended are performing (ie, being paid back in accordance with their terms) and the likelihood that they will continue to perform.
Balance Sheet Also known as a Statement of Financial Position. A statement of a company’s assets and liabilities provided for the benefit of shareholders and regulators. It gives a snapshot at a specific point in time of the assets the company holds and how they have been financed.
Basel Basel Committee on Banking Supervision housed at the Bank for International Settlements.
Basel I Basel Committee regulations, which set out the minimum capital requirements of financial institutions with the goal of minimising credit risk.
Capital The sum of money that is invested to generate proceeds.
Capital Adequacy A measure of the adequacy of an entity’s capital resources in relation to its current liabilities and also in relation to the risks associated with its assets. An appropriate level of capital adequacy ensures that the entity has sufficient capital to support its activities and that its net worth is sufficient to absorb adverse changes in the value of its assets without becoming insolvent.
Capital Base The issued capital of a company, plus reserves and retained profits.
Collateral Asset provided to a creditor as security for a loan.
Corporate Governance Refers to the mechanisms, processes and relations by which corporations are controlled and directed, and is used to ensure the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of an entity to its stakeholders.
Credit Rating Agency An entity that provides credit rating services.
Debt An obligation to repay a sum of money. More specifically, it is funds passed from a creditor to a debtor in exchange for interest and a commitment to repay the principal in full on a specified date or over a specified period.
Downgrade The assignment of a lower credit rating to a company or sovereign borrower’s debt by a credit rating agency. Opposite of upgrade.
Exposure Exposure is the amount of risk the holder of an asset or security is faced with as a consequence of holding the security or asset. For a company, its exposure may relate to a particular product class or customer grouping. Exposure may also arise from an overreliance on one source of funding.
Financial Institution An entity that focuses on dealing with financial transactions, such as investments, loans and deposits.
Guarantee An undertaking in writing by one person (the guarantor) given to another, usually a bank (the creditor) to be answerable for the debt of a third person (the debtor) to the creditor, upon default of the debtor.
Interest Scheduled payments made to a creditor in return for the use of borrowed money. The size of the payments will be determined by the interest rate, the amount borrowed or principal and the duration of the loan.
Interest Rate The charge or the return on an asset or debt expressed as a percentage of the price or size of the asset or debt. It is usually expressed on an annual basis.
International Scale Rating LC International local currency (International LC) ratings measure the likelihood of repayment in the currency of the jurisdiction in which the issuer is domiciled. Therefore, the rating does not take into account the possibility that it will not be able to convert local currency into foreign currency or make transfers between sovereign jurisdictions.
Liquidity The speed at which assets can be converted to cash. It can also refer to the ability of a company to service its debt obligations due to the presence of liquid assets such as cash and its equivalents. Market liquidity refers to the ease with which a security can be bought or sold quickly and in large volumes without substantially affecting the market price. 
Liquidity Risk The risk that a company may not be able to meet its financial obligations or other operational cash requirements due to an inability to timeously realise cash from its assets. Regarding securities, the risk that a financial instrument cannot be traded at its market price due to the size, structure or efficiency of the market.
Long-Term Not current; ordinarily more than one year.
Long-Term Rating Reflects an issuer’s ability to meet its financial obligations over the following three to five year period, including interest payments and debt redemptions. This encompasses an evaluation of the organisation’s current financial position, as well as how the position may change in the future with regard to meeting longer term financial obligations.
National Scale Rating Provides a relative measure of creditworthiness for rated entities only within the country concerned. Under this rating scale, a ‘AAA’ long term national scale rating will typically be assigned to the lowest relative risk within that country, which in most cases will be the sovereign state.
Performing Loan A loan is said to be performing if the borrower is paying the interest on it on a timely basis.
Preference Share Preference or preferred shares entitle a holder to a first claim on any dividend paid by the company before payment is made on ordinary shares. Such dividends are normally linked to an interest rate and not determined by company profits. Preference shares are normally repayable at par value in the event of liquidation. They do not usually carry voting or pre-emptive rights. Preference shares can be redeemable or perpetual.
Provision The amount set aside or deducted from operating income to cover expected or identified loan losses.
Regulatory Capital The total of primary, secondary and tertiary capital.
Retained Earnings Earnings not paid out as dividends by a company. Retained earnings are typically reinvested back into the business and are an important component of shareholders’ equity.
Short-Term Current; ordinarily less than one year.
Short-Term Rating An opinion of an issuer’s ability to meet all financial obligations over the upcoming 12 month period, including interest payments and debt redemptions.

For a detailed glossary of terms please click here

GCR affirms Grindrod Bank Limited’s rating of BBB+(ZA); Outlook Stable.

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