Business news from Ukraine


Fitch Ratings has revised Metinvest B.V.’s outlook to stable from negative, the Long-Term Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) and senior unsecured rating for the bonds of the Ukrainian integrated steel company are affirmed at ‘BB-‘, the recovery rating is ‘RR4’, the rating agency said on its website. “The revision of Metinvest’s outlook reflects strong cash flow generation linked to supportive steel and iron ore markets amid the global economic recovery and our expectation of a gradual reduction of gross debt to $ 2.9 billion ($ 2.5 billion net; both Fitch-adjusted values) over the next three years. It also takes into consideration that some of this cash flow will be used for earnings accretive growth, including taking control of Pokrovske Coal and incremental capital expenditure,” the report says.
“Fitch now forecasts funds from operations (FFO) gross leverage of 1.5x-1.6x over the medium term, providing for very comfortable headroom compared to the negative ratio guideline of 2.5x for the ‘BB-‘ rating. But we note that the company does not have a formal dividend policy or gearing target,” it says.
Metinvest is a vertically integrated group of mining and metallurgical enterprises. Its enterprises are located in Ukraine – in Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhia and Dnipropetrovsk regions, in European countries. In particular, in Bulgaria there is Promet Steel plant with a capacity of 500,000 tonnes of rolled metal per year, in Italy – Metinvest Trametal and Ferriera Valsider with a total capacity of 1.2 million tonnes per year. In the UK, the company owns Spartan UK plant that can produce 200,000 tonnes of rolled steel per year.
The main shareholders of the holding are SCM Group (71.24%) and Smart-Holding (23.76%), which jointly manage it.
Metinvest Holding LLC is the management company of Metinvest Group.

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Dniprospetsstal Electrometallurgical Plant (Zaporizhia) in January-November this year, according to the recent data, increased the output of finished rolled products by 1.4%, to 141,000 tonnes compared to the same period last year.
As the enterprise told Interfax-Ukraine, steel production during this period increased by 2.5%, to 205,000 tonnes.
In November, 21,000 tonnes of steel were smelted, and 13,000 tonnes of rolled products were produced.
The company’s information said that the metal of Dniprospetsstal complies with the European standards for construction, this was confirmed by the certificate №1853-CPR-101 of compliance of the factory production control with the European Regulation 305/2011/EU. The document applies to the production of hot-rolled bars and forgings from structural and stainless steel grades. These products are used for production of metalwork constructions and composite reinforced concrete structures.
“The certificate allows the company to manufacture and supply metal products specified in its scope. In addition, Dniprospetsstal is allowed to affix the CE mark on its products. It indicates its compliance with European standards. Metal products with such a mark are successfully sold in the EU countries,” the company said.
The certificate is valid until November 22, 2023.
As reported, Dniprospetsstal in 2019 reduced the output of finished rolled products by 6.4%, to 152,212 tonnes, steel by 11.2%, to 219,308 tonnes compared to the previous year.
Dniprospetsstal is Ukraine’s only manufacturer of high-quality rolled products and forgings made of special steel grades: stainless, tool, bearing, structural, and also from nickel-based superalloys.

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Fitch Ratings has upgraded Ukrainian integrated steel company Metinvest B.V.’s (Metinvest) Long-Term Local- and Foreign-Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) and senior unsecured bonds to ‘BB-‘ from ‘B+’. The Outlook is Stable.

“The upgrade follows Ukraine’s Country Ceiling upgrade to ‘B’ from ‘B-‘on 6 September 2019. The IDR of Metinvest remains two notches above the Country Ceiling,” Fitch said in a report.

Fitch said that this happened due to its comfortable hard-currency (HC) external debt service coverage, and also its ‘BB’ category business and financial profiles.

In addition, S&P Global Ratings raised Metinvest’s issuer credit rating and its issue ratings on the existing notes to ‘B’ from ‘B-‘. The Outlook is Stable.

S&P said that the Ukrainian steel maker Metinvest has built a track record of balanced financial policy in the past 18 months, with relatively low gearing and positive free cash flow, supporting an adequate spending between growth and shareholder returns.

The two agencies also assigned preliminary ratings to senior unsecured notes of at least $500 million proposed by Metinvest to issue at once after purchase for cash up to $440 million notes in circulation: Fitch – ‘BB-(EXP),’ and S&P – ‘B.’

“The proposed senior unsecured notes of at least $500 million will smooth the maturity profile and strengthen liquidity,” S&P said.

Fitch expects Metinvest’s HC external debt service cover ratio to be comfortable at above our 1.5x threshold on a 18-month rolling basis, allowing the company’s IDR to remain two notches above Ukraine’s ‘B’ Country Ceiling . The top line of the ratio is mainly comprises substantial export EBITDA, aided by abroad EBITDA and cash. The bottom line of the ratio represents HC debt service, comprising principal repayments and interest payments, which are fairly smooth over 2019-2022. The company faces a $945 million notes maturity in 2023 but this would be addressed by the upcoming notes issue, which will improve HC external debt service coverage for 2023.

Fitch said that since the last rating action in April 2019 we have revised Metinvest’s full-year EBITDA down to slightly above $1.5 billion in both 2019 and 2020 and slightly under $1.5 billion in 2021 and 2022, reflecting sharper-than-previously expected price contraction across the steel value chain.

Fitch said that Metinvest is an important eastern European producer of metal products (8.8 million tonnes in 2018) and iron ore (27.3 million tonnes of concentrate and pellets in 2018), with around 300% self-sufficiency in iron ore but only 40%-45% in coking coal.

“The steel segment’s proximity to Black Sea and Azov Sea ports allows the company to benefit from both cheaper steel exports and seaborne coal imports logistics. The operations are also further integrated into downstream operations in Italy, Bulgaria and the UK. Partial integration into key raw materials and exposure to high value-added products help Metinvest mitigate but not avert steel market volatility,” Fitch said.

Fitch said that the conflict in eastern Ukraine continues to pose risks to day-to-day operations. Metinvest’s exposure to the risks of conflict escalation remains high relative to its EMEA peers, although Fitch admitted that most of its 1H19 EBITDA is generated by its mining assets located substantially farther from the conflict zone.

S&P expects that the company will maintain an adjusted funds from operations (FFO) to debt of 35%-40% in 2019 and 2020, well in the range commensurate with the current ‘B’ rating (20%-40%), with a positive discretionary cash flow (free cash flow after capex and dividends).

“We believe that the current market conditions will have a mixed impact on the company’s results in 2019,” S&P said.

“We expect Metinvest to benefit from the abnormal iron ore and pellet prices. Under our calculations, the EBITDA would need to fall to about $1.1 billion in 2020, compared with $1.5 billion-$1.7 billion in our base case, before witnessing a pressure on the rating,” S&P said.

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