Announcements

GCR affirms SIFCA Group’s rating of A(CI); outlook Stable

Johannesburg, 19 Dec 2013 — Global Credit Ratings has today affirmed the long term national scale and short term national scale issuer ratings assigned to SIFCA Group of A(CI) and A1(CI) respectively; with the outlook accorded as Stable. The rating(s) are valid until 12/2014.

RATING RATIONALE

Global Credit Ratings has accorded the above credit rating(s) on SIFCA Group based on the following key criteria:

SIFCA Group (“Sifca”) is a leading West African agronomic company, with its strength in rubber production (and sugar cultivation to a lesser extent) now augmented by a growing position in palm cultivation, processing and the manufacture of associated finished products. While the majority of the group’s operations are contained within the Ivory Coast, recent years have seen active diversification of the rubber and palm oil businesses into neighbouring countries. Sifca reports a strong competitive advantage in that a large proportion of its raw material is sourced from its own plantations, albeit that it is still reliant on raw material sourced from outgrower schemes (rendering it susceptible to the challenges typically associated with such arrangements such as quality issues and side marketing). Another key competitive advantage is the strategic minority shareholders in the group and its underlying subsidiaries, with these partners being multinational players who are able to provide technical assistance and global best practices.

While stability in the Ivory Coast (post the 2011 political crisis) has driven strong economic growth and much improved capacity utilisation by the group, the introduction of new domestic taxes on aspects of the agriculture industry have materially impacted margins (particularly with respect to the rubber business). Subdued commodity prices and a generally strong FCFA exchange rate against the US$ (in which most commodities are priced) have further tempered profitability. To address these latter issues, managerial focus has been placed on capturing greater value by expanding operations to include the manufacture of consumer products.

Sifca’s operating performance has been sound over the review period, with strong increases reported in terms of actual production. However, the abovementioned issues have constrained revenue growth and resulted in subdued operating profits in F12 and 1H F13. Nonetheless, with debt and gearing relatively moderate, debt serviceability has been strong. Gearing measures have reduced considerably since FYE09, with net debt to equity falling from 40% at FYE09 to 17% at 1H F13 and net debt to EBITDA concurrently falling from 149% to 40%. Liquidity too has remained confortable as a result of strong operating cash flows and sizeable cash balances having been maintained.

Looking ahead, Sifca is moving into a consolidation phase, whereby capex is expected to reduce and focus is placed on capacity utilisation and efficiency improvements. Should lower capex levels be maintained and the improvement in efficiency and capacity utilisation be reported (and translate to improved eanrings) this would improve credit risk measures and could drive an upward rating movement in the longer term. In contrast, further large and unexpected capex could drive increased borrowings and a deterioration in credit protection metrics, which could adversely impact on the ratings. Other negative rating movement factors include strong negative developments in terms of realised palm oil and/or rubber prices, as well as adverse socio-political developments in the Ivory Coast.

NATIONAL SCALE RATINGS HISTORY
Initial rating (Nov/2006)
Long term: A-(CI); Short term: A2(CI)
Outlook: Stable
Last rating (Nov/2012)
Long term: A(CI); Short term: A1(CI)
Outlook: Stable
ANALYTICAL CONTACTS
Primary Analyst
Richard Hoffman
Analyst
+27 11 784 1771
hoffman@globalratings.net
Committee Chairperson
Eyal Shevel
Sector Head: Corporates
+27 11 784 1771
shevel@globalratings.net

APPLICABLE METHODOLOGIES AND RELATED RESEARCH

GCR’s Global Master Criteria for Rating Corporate Entities

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/RATING-SCALES-DEFINITIONS. 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 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; c.) such rating was an independent evaluation of the risks and merits of the rated entity, security or financial instrument.

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

The credit rating/s has been disclosed to SIFCA Group with no contestation of the rating.

The information received from SIFCA Group and other reliable third parties to accord the credit rating included the 2012 audited annual financial statements (plus four years of comparative numbers), internal and/or external management reports, full year budgeted financial statements, 1H 2013 management accounts, corporate governance and enterprise risk framework, industry comparative data and regulatory framework and a breakdown of facilities available and related counterparties. In addition, information specific to the rated entity and/or industry was also received.

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

ALL GCR CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS, TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS, TERMS OF USE AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK:HTTP://GLOBALRATINGS.NET/UNDERSTANDINGRATINGS. IN ADDITION, RATING SCALES AND DEFINITIONS ARE AVAILABLE ON GCR’S PUBLIC WEB SITE AT WWW.GLOBALRATINGS.NET/RATINGSINFORMATION. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA, AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. GCR’S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, COMPLIANCE, AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE UNDERSTANDING RATINGS SECTION OF THIS SITE.

CREDIT RATINGS ISSUED AND RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS PUBLISHED BY GCR, ARE GCR’S OPINIONS, AS AT THE DATE OF ISSUE OR PUBLICATION THEREOF, OF THE RELATIVE FUTURE CREDIT RISK OF ENTITIES, CREDIT COMMITMENTS, OR DEBT OR DEBT-LIKE SECURITIES. GCR DEFINES CREDIT RISK AS THE RISK THAT AN ENTITY MAY NOT MEET ITS CONTRACTUAL AND/OR FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS AS THEY BECOME DUE. CREDIT RATINGS DO NOT ADDRESS ANY OTHER RISK, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: FRAUD, MARKET LIQUIDITY RISK, MARKET VALUE RISK, OR PRICE VOLATILITY. CREDIT RATINGS AND GCR’S OPINIONS INCLUDED IN GCR’S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT STATEMENTS OF CURRENT OR HISTORICAL FACT. CREDIT RATINGS AND GCR’S PUBLICATIONS DO NOT CONSTITUTE OR PROVIDE INVESTMENT OR FINANCIAL ADVICE, AND CREDIT RATINGS AND GCR’S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT AND DO NOT PROVIDE RECOMMENDATIONS TO PURCHASE, SELL OR HOLD PARTICULAR SECURITIES. NEITHER GCR’S CREDIT RATINGS, NOR ITS PUBLICATIONS, COMMENT ON THE SUITABILITY OF AN INVESTMENT FOR ANY PARTICULAR INVESTOR. GCR ISSUES ITS CREDIT RATINGS AND PUBLISHES GCR’S PUBLICATIONS WITH THE EXPECTATION AND UNDERSTANDING THAT EACH INVESTOR WILL MAKE ITS OWN STUDY AND EVALUATION OF EACH SECURITY THAT IS UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR PURCHASE, HOLDING OR SALE.

Copyright © 2013 Global Credit Rating Co (Pty) Ltd. INFORMATION PUBLISHED BY GCR MAY NOT BE COPIED OR OTHERWISE REPRODUCED OR DISCLOSED, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, IN ANY FORM OR MANNER OR BY ANY MEANS WHATSOEVER, BY ANY PERSON WITHOUT GCR’S PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT. Credit ratings are solicited by, or on behalf of, the issuer of the instrument in respect of which the rating is issued, and GCR is compensated for the provision of these ratings. Information sources used to prepare the ratings are set out in each credit rating report and/or rating notification and include the following: parties involved in the ratings and public information. All information used to prepare the ratings is obtained by GCR from sources reasonably believed by it to be accurate and reliable. Although GCR will at all times use its best efforts and practices to ensure that the information it relies on is accurate at the time, GCR does not provide any warranty in respect of, nor is it otherwise responsible for, the accurateness of such information.GCR adopts all reasonable measures to ensure that the information it uses in assigning a credit rating is of sufficient quality and that such information is obtained from sources that GCR, acting reasonably, considers to be reliable, including, when appropriate, independent third-party sources. However, GCR cannot in every instance independently verify or validate information received in the rating process. Under no circumstances shall GCR have any liability to any person or entity for (a) any loss or damage suffered by such person or entity caused by, resulting from, or relating to, any error made by GCR, whether negligently (including gross negligence) or otherwise, or other circumstance or contingency outside the control of GCR or any of its directors, officers, employees or agents in connection with the procurement, collection, compilation, analysis, interpretation, communication, publication or delivery of any such information, or (b) any direct, indirect, special, consequential, compensatory or incidental damages whatsoever (including without limitation, lost profits) suffered by such person or entity, as a result of the use of or inability to use any such information. The ratings, financial reporting analysis, projections, and other observations, if any, constituting part of the information contained in each credit rating report and/or rating notification are, and must be construed solely as, statements of opinion and not statements of fact or recommendations to purchase, sell or hold any securities. Each user of the information contained in each credit rating report and/or rating notification must make its own study and evaluation of each security it may consider purchasing, holding or selling. NO WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO THE ACCURACY, TIMELINESS, COMPLETENESS, MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE OF ANY SUCH RATING OR OTHER OPINION OR INFORMATION IS GIVEN OR MADE BY GCR IN ANY FORM OR MANNER WHATSOEVER.
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ALL GCR CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS, TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS, TERMS OF USE AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK:HTTP://GCRRATINGS.COM. IN ADDITION, RATING SCALES AND DEFINITIONS ARE AVAILABLE ON GCR’S PUBLIC WEB SITE AT WWW.GCRRATINGS.COM/RATING_INFORMATION. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA, AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. GCR's CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, COMPLIANCE, AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE.

CREDIT RATINGS ISSUED AND RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS PUBLISHED BY GCR, ARE GCR’S OPINIONS, AS AT THE DATE OF ISSUE OR PUBLICATION THEREOF, OF THE RELATIVE FUTURE CREDIT RISK OF ENTITIES, CREDIT COMMITMENTS, OR DEBT OR DEBT-LIKE SECURITIES. GCR DEFINES CREDIT RISK AS THE RISK THAT AN ENTITY MAY NOT MEET ITS CONTRACTUAL AND/OR FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS AS THEY BECOME DUE. CREDIT RATINGS DO NOT ADDRESS ANY OTHER RISK, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: FRAUD, MARKET LIQUIDITY RISK, MARKET VALUE RISK, OR PRICE VOLATILITY. CREDIT RATINGS AND GCR’S OPINIONS INCLUDED IN GCR’S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT STATEMENTS OF CURRENT OR HISTORICAL FACT. CREDIT RATINGS AND GCR’S PUBLICATIONS DO NOT CONSTITUTE OR PROVIDE INVESTMENT OR FINANCIAL ADVICE, AND CREDIT RATINGS AND GCR’S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT AND DO NOT PROVIDE RECOMMENDATIONS TO PURCHASE, SELL OR HOLD PARTICULAR SECURITIES. NEITHER GCR’S CREDIT RATINGS, NOR ITS PUBLICATIONS, COMMENT ON THE SUITABILITY OF AN INVESTMENT FOR ANY PARTICULAR INVESTOR. GCR ISSUES ITS CREDIT RATINGS AND PUBLISHES GCR’S PUBLICATIONS WITH THE EXPECTATION AND UNDERSTANDING THAT EACH INVESTOR WILL MAKE ITS OWN STUDY AND EVALUATION OF EACH SECURITY THAT IS UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR PURCHASE, HOLDING OR SALE.

Copyright 2019 GCR INFORMATION PUBLISHED BY GCR MAY NOT BE COPIED OR OTHERWISE REPRODUCED OR DISCLOSED, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, IN ANY FORM OR MANNER OR BY ANY MEANS WHATSOEVER, BY ANY PERSON WITHOUT GCR’S PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT. Credit ratings are solicited by, or on behalf of, the issuer of the instrument in respect of which the rating is issued, and GCR is compensated for the provision of these ratings. Information sources used to prepare the ratings are set out in each credit rating report and/or rating notification and include the following: parties involved in the ratings and public information. All information used to prepare the ratings is obtained by GCR from sources reasonably believed by it to be accurate and reliable. Although GCR will at all times use its best efforts and practices to ensure that the information it relies on is accurate at the time, GCR does not provide any warranty in respect of, nor is it otherwise responsible for, the accurateness of such information.GCR adopts all reasonable measures to ensure that the information it uses in assigning a credit rating is of sufficient quality and that such information is obtained from sources that GCR, acting reasonably, considers to be reliable, including, when appropriate, independent third-party sources. However, GCR cannot in every instance independently verify or validate information received in the rating process. Under no circumstances shall GCR have any liability to any person or entity for (a) any loss or damage suffered by such person or entity caused by, resulting from, or relating to, any error made by GCR, whether negligently (including gross negligence) or otherwise, or other circumstance or contingency outside the control of GCR or any of its directors, officers, employees or agents in connection with the procurement, collection, compilation, analysis, interpretation, communication, publication or delivery of any such information, or (b) any direct, indirect, special, consequential, compensatory or incidental damages whatsoever (including without limitation, lost profits) suffered by such person or entity, as a result of the use of or inability to use any such information. The ratings, financial reporting analysis, projections, and other observations, if any, constituting part of the information contained in each credit rating report and/or rating notification are, and must be construed solely as, statements of opinion and not statements of fact or recommendations to purchase, sell or hold any securities. Each user of the information contained in each credit rating report and/or rating notification must make its own study and evaluation of each security it may consider purchasing, holding or selling. NO WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO THE ACCURACY, TIMELINESS, COMPLETENESS, MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE OF ANY SUCH RATING OR OTHER OPINION OR INFORMATION IS GIVEN OR MADE BY GCR IN ANY FORM OR MANNER WHATSOEVER.