Announcements Fund Rating Alerts

GCR affirms Nedgroup Investments Prime Money Market Fund’s rating of AAA(ZA)(f); Outlook Negative.

Rating Action

Johannesburg, 30 March 2020 — Global Credit Ratings has affirmed the national scale fund rating accorded to Nedgroup Investments Prime Money Market Fund of AAA(ZA)(f); with the outlook remaining negative.

Rated Entity / Issue Rating class Rating scale Rating Outlook / Watch
Nedgroup Investments Prime Money Market Fund Fund Rating[1] National AAA(ZA)(f) Negative Outlook
Fund summary
Fund inception date 1 March 2018
Fund currency South African Rand
Fund data review date 31 January 2020
Assets under management (“AUM”) R793.2mn
Net asset value (“NAV”) Targeted constant price of R1.00
Fund benchmark STeFI Call Deposit Index

Rating Rationale

GCR Ratings (“GCR”) has affirmed the above fund rating on Nedgroup Investments Prime Money Market Fund (“NEDPMF”, “the fund”), key features of which are summarised below.

In determining a fund rating, GCR qualitatively assesses the fund’s underlying asset quality, and performs an evaluation of management, the fund’s historical performance in terms of price/return volatility, and market and liquidity risks. The fund rating was based on the following key criteria:

Fund profile: NEDPMF has a fixed income mandate which aims to deliver total returns exceeding those offered by call deposits. The fund’s mandate is stricter on credit quality than those of traditional money market funds, with its investable universe limited to Rand issued instruments issued by local branches of international banks and corporates operating in South Africa, with an international scale rating of A- or higher. The A- international scale rating minimum requirement results in the fund holding only instruments from AAA(ZA) (South African national scale rating) issuers. Regulation requires the fund’s weighted average modified duration (“WAD”) and weighted average legal maturity (“WAM”) not to exceed 90 day and 120 days respectively. The fund may also not invest in an individual instrument with a remaining maturity of more than 13 months. NEDPMF offers one day liquidity.

Asset manager profile: Nedgroup Collective Investments is the fund manager and the investment management function is outsourced to Taquanta, a specialist cash and fixed income asset manager. GCR assesses NEDPMF as being managed within a very strong fund management and control environment. The capacity, capability and competence of the Manco and Taquanta facilitate achievement of performance objectives within mandate constraints. Marketing, risk/compliance and administration follow market best practices.

Investment performance: From inception, the fund’s returns have consistently been above those of the benchmark, illustrating the fund’s relative value add (active returns) whilst operating within a very strict mandate. Assets under management (“AUM”) showed very strong growth of 94.8% to R793.2mn in January 2020, from R407.8mn in January 2019, however, Nedgroup Investments remains the funds largest investor, holding c.48% of the fund. GCR expects the fund to continue earning active returns and the AUM to continue growing steadily as a result of the fund’s unique offering which is well suited to insurance companies and the local business operating environment (low business confidence and uncertainty).

Portfolio quality and market risk: GCR’s portfolio analysis considered credit/ concentration risk, tenor/duration (and limits), fund returns volatility, and additional sources of market risk, in addition to NEDPMF’s stress-tested weighted average credit rating (“WACR”). NEDPMF’s credit concentration is very high with 79.3% of the fund’s holdings exposed to three banks at the review date. This is, however, a systemic issue affecting most rated interest-bearing funds, and is therefore in line with peers. At the review date, the fund’s WAD and WAM were 75.1 days and 97.9 days, respectively, which GCR assess to result in low interest rate and maturity risk. Volatility in the fund’s returns (which impacts the fund’s price) since inception is assessed as very low. The fund’s stress-tested WACR at the review date was a AAA(ZA) reflecting the high credit quality of the local branches of the international banks and corporates.

Key fund risks: Very high credit concentration, and to a lesser extent liquidity risk (investments from insurers being relatively sticky) are the fund’s key risks. The fund has adequate strategies in place to simultaneously meet its objectives and manage its liquidity risk. These include maintaining very close relationships with investors to be able to anticipate and plan for large withdrawals, holding high-quality instruments which are liquid in nature, and through holding adequate cash balances as required.

Outlook statement

The outlook is negative, balancing a very high investor concentration and limited scale, with a strong fund manager profile, appropriate liquidity, as well as the expectation of appropriate management of the fund’s maturity profile.

In light of the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, GCR expect a more volatile operating environment for rated funds in South Africa. In particular, we expect unusually high fund flows (more appropriately large drawdowns) which could pose liquidity challenges on the funds and the market in general. Positively, we expect the funds to hold higher than usual liquidity. However, there could also be rapid negative migration in credit quality and the liquidity of invested assets. These factors could bring down the ratings of all rated peers, should the domestic stress increase.

Rating Triggers

The rating could be lowered following breach of fund mandate/model (based on very strong credits and liquidity) resulting in deteriorating liquidity and lower credit quality, and/or if concentrations to investors does not improve due to inadequate growth of the fund. There is no upside movement on the rating being a AAA(ZA)(f) rating.

Analytical Contacts

Primary analyst Thandolwenkosi Mkwanazi Financial Institutions Analyst
Johannesburg, ZA ThandolwenkosiM@GCRratings.com +27 11 784 1771
Committee chair Vinay Nagar Senior Financial Institutions Analyst
Johannesburg, ZA Vinay@GCRratings.com +27 11 784 1771

Related Criteria and Research

Global Master Criteria for Rating Funds and Asset Managers, updated March 2017
Nedgroup Prime Money Market Fund rating reports, 2016-19.

Ratings History

Nedgroup Investments Prime Money Market Fund

Rating class Review Rating scale Rating class Outlook Date
Fund rating Initial National AAA(ZA)(f) Stable June 2018
Fund rating Last National AAA(ZA)(f) Negative March 2019

Glossary

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.
Capital The sum of money that is invested to generate proceeds.
Cash Funds that can be readily spent or used to meet current obligations.
Credit Rating An opinion regarding the creditworthiness of an entity, a security or financial instrument, or an issuer of securities or financial instruments, using an established and defined ranking system of rating categories.
Liquid Assets Assets, generally of a short term, that can be converted into cash.
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.
Maturity The length of time between the issue of a bond or other security and the date on which it becomes payable in full.
Net Asset Value The value of an entity’s assets less its liabilities. It is a reflection of the company’s underlying value and is usually quoted on a per share basis.
Portfolio A collection of investments held by an individual investor or financial institution. They may include stocks, bonds, futures contracts, options, real estate investments or any item that the holder believes will retain its value.
Principal The total amount borrowed or lent, e.g. the face value of a bond, excluding interest.
Risk The chance of future uncertainty (i.e. deviation from expected earnings or an expected outcome) that will have an impact on objectives.
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.
Tenor The time from the value date until the expiry date of a financial instrument.
Yield Percentage return on an investment or security, usually calculated at an annual rate.

Salient Points of Accorded Ratings

GCR affirms that a.) no part of the rating was influenced by any other business activities of the credit rating agency; b.) the rating was based solely on the merits of the rated entity, security or financial instrument being rated and c.) such rating was an independent evaluation of the risks and merits of the rated entity, security or financial instrument.

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

The fund rating has been disclosed to Nedgroup Investments (Proprietary) Limited.

The information received from Nedgroup Investments (Proprietary) Limited and other reliable third parties to accord the fund rating included:

  • A breakdown of the fund investment portfolio, including information on the instruments, their terms, conditions and credit quality;
  • A breakdown of the fund investor portfolio, including fund flows and withdrawal terms;
  • Detail on historical fund returns, fee structures, and expense ratios (where available);
  • Details regarding the fund management, investment management and administration activities of the fund;
  • Industry comparative data and regulatory framework.

The rating above was solicited by, or on behalf of, Nedgroup Investments (Proprietary) Limited, and therefore, GCR has been compensated for the provision of the rating.

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