Announcements Corporate Rating Alerts

GCR assigns A(NG) / A1(NG) national scale long and short-term Issuer rating to International Breweries Plc; Stable Outlook.

Lagos, 21 May 2021 – GCR Ratings (“GCR”) has assigned national scale long-term and short-term Issuer ratings of A(NG) and A1(NG), respectively, to International Breweries Plc, with the Outlook accorded as Stable.

Rated Entity / Issue Rating class Rating scale Rating Outlook / Watch
International Breweries Plc Long Term Issuer National A(NG) Stable
Short Term Issuer National A1(NG)

Rating Rationale

The ratings of International Breweries Plc (“IBPLC” or “the Company”) are underpinned by its mid-to-strong competitive position within the Nigerian brewery industry, and the ongoing operational and strategic support from its parent company, Anheuser-Bush InBev SA/NV (“AB InBev”), the world largest brewing company with operations in more than 150 countries. This is however counterbalanced with persistent operating losses and weak credit protections metrics.

IBPLC became the second largest brewer in Nigeria following the merger of AB InBev’s three Nigerian subsidiaries (IBPLC, Intafact Breweries Limited and Pabod Breweries Limited). Since FY18, the Company spent circa N145bn, expanding its brewing capacity to 9 million hectolitre per annum across four brewing plants. IBPLC has a well-diversified beer portfolio, including some major local brands across the premium, mid and value segments. Diversification from beers is limited and IBPLC’s earnings are almost entirely generated in Nigeria – this is not expected to change.

Although IBPLC has reported steady growth in revenue since integration, earnings resilience has been weak with persistent operating losses. Margin pressure has been driven by the depreciation of the Naira, which has raised the prices of imported raw materials input and other capital and operating expenses. Depreciation also remains high which relates to returnable packaging materials. Volume growth and efficiency improvements are expected to contribute to higher margins going forward, however GCR expects profitability to remain weak in the short term because of high fixed costs and foreign exchange exposures.

The Company’s weak gearing profile is also a negative rating factor. Gross debt spiked from just N8.5bn at FY16 to a high of N264.9bn at FY19, mainly attributable to additional loans obtained to fund expansion post the merger. The shareholder supported right issue raised N164bn in FY20, with the proceeds being used to reduce the debt burden to N112.4bn. This, together with higher EBITDA, saw net debt to EBITDA reduce to a more sustainable 3.7x in FY20, compared to a high of 19x reported at FY19, albeit still somewhat high. Furthermore, the lower debt also resulted into significant improvement in other credit protection metrics with net interest coverage rising to 12.8x at FY20 (FY19: 0.9x) and operating cash flow coverage of debt registering at 44.5% (FY19: 10.2%) bolstered by huge working capital release. GCR expects net debt to EBITDA to register around 3x – 3.5x by FY21 on account of expected slight improvement in EBITDA, with interest coverage also improving because of the lower debt. However, some pressure on cash flow coverage may arise once IBPLC begins to unwind its intergroup trade creditors.

GCR has taken a negative view of the short term nature of almost all debt which is largely denominated in USD resulting into substantial foreign exchange exposure, as well as the concentration to a single funding counterparty. IBPLC’s plans to access the capital markets in the near term should support improved funding flexibility.

IBPLC evidences a good liquidity profile, with its sources versus uses liquidity coverage estimated at above 1.9x over a 12-month period to FY21. This is predicated on the substantial committed facilities from other recently engaged commercial banks, which are revolving in nature, and N33.5bn in cash holdings. Notwithstanding the high short term debt, this adequately covers debt refinancing requirements. In addition, IBPLC is also scaling down capex spend, which will allow internal cash generated to be used for working capital. GCR thus expects liquidity coverage to be sustained at around 2x by FY21.

GCR has factored strong group support into the ratings for IBPLC, demonstrated by ongoing operational, technical and financial support. In this regard, IBPLC is well integrated into the broader AB InBev, with key management seconded to it to support operational improvements. More importantly, recently AB InBev directly spent N90bn (USD250m) towards capacity expansion, invested N124bn (USD341m) to take up its rights in FY20 and continues to fully guarantee all IBPLC’s existing debt obligation (excluding leases) with its bank lenders.

Outlook Statement

The Stable Outlook reflects GCR’s view that IBPC will continue to benefit from tangible technical and financial support from AB InBev until there is meaningful improvement in operational performance, earnings, and credit protection metrics. In this regard, GCR does expect a gradual improvement on the back of earnings performance, as additional volumes are produced, and efficiency improvements take root.

Rating Triggers

Sustained growth in revenue and firmer margins that translate into profitability and improvement in operating cash flows. Positive rating action could also emanate from favourable restructuring of the debt profile, as well as improvement in earnings based gearing metrics below 200%.

Conversely, a rating downgrade could result if IBPLC is unable to sustainably improve operations, such that the Company continues to report operating losses. A renewed increase in debt, and corresponding weakening in the credit protection metrics would be negatively viewed. GCR would also negatively view any perceived change in shareholder support.

Analytical Contacts

Primary analyst Busola Akinrolabu Analyst: Corporate Ratings
Lagos, Nigeria Busola@GCRratings.com +234 1 904 9462
Secondary analyst Eyal Shevel Sector Head: Corporate Ratings
Johannesburg, ZA Shevel@GCRratings.com +27 11 784 1771
Committee chair Matthew Pirnie Group Head of Ratings
Johannesburg, ZA MatthewP@GCRratings.com +27 11 784 1771

Related Criteria and Research

Criteria for the GCR Ratings Framework, May 2019
Criteria for Rating Corporate Entities, May 2019
GCR Ratings Scales, Symbols & Definitions, May 2019
GCR Nigeria Country Risk Scores, February 2021
GCR Nigeria Corporate Sector Risk Scores, February 2021

Ratings History

International Breweries Plc

Rating class Review Rating scale Rating class Outlook Date
Long Term Issuer Initial/Last National A(NG) Stable May 2021
Short Term Issuer Initial/Last National A1(NG)

Risk Score Summary

Rating Components & Factors Risk scores
Operating environment 6.75
Country risk score 3.75
Sector risk score 3.00
Business profile 0.75
Competitive position 0.75
Management and governance 0.00
Financial profile (1.75)
Earnings profile (1.50)
Leverage and capital structure (1.25)
Liquidity 1.00
Comparative profile 2.00
Group support 2.00
Peer analysis 0.00
Total Score 7.75

Glossary

Capital The sum of money that is invested to generate proceeds.
Cash Funds that can be readily spent or used to meet current obligations.
Cash Flow The inflow and outflow of cash and cash equivalents. Such flows arise from operating, investing and financing activities.
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.
Coverage Coverage The scope of the protection provided under a contract of insurance.
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.
Gearing Gearing (or leverage) refers to the extent to which a company is funded by debt and can be calculated by dividing its debt by shareholders’ funds or by EBITDA.
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.

Salient Points of Accorded Ratings

GCR affirms that a.) no part of the ratings process 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; and c.) such ratings were an independent evaluation of the risks and merits of the rated entity, security or financial instrument.

The credit rating has been disclosed to International Breweries Plc. The rating above was solicited by, or on behalf of, the rated entity, and therefore, GCR has been compensated for the provision of the rating.

International Breweries Plc participated in the rating process via telephonic management meetings, and other written correspondence. Furthermore, the quality of information received was considered adequate and has been independently verified where possible. The information received from International Breweries Plc and other reliable third parties to accord the credit ratings included:

  • 2020 audited annual financial statement, and prior four years annual financial statements;
  • Internal and/or external management reports;
  • Industry comparative data and regulatory framework and a breakdown of facilities available and related counterparties;
  • Information specific to the rated entity and/or industry was also received;
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