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Announcement:

Moody's: Maoye's rating unaffected by proposed ABS issuance

27 Apr 2018

Hong Kong, April 27, 2018 -- Moody's Investors Service, ("Moody's") says that Maoye International Holdings Ltd.'s (Maoye) plan to issue asset-backed securities (ABS) will not immediately affect its B3 corporate family rating or the stable outlook on the rating.

On 25 April 2018, Maoye announced that it would issue no more than RMB2.42 billion of ABS through Maoye Commercial Co., Ltd. — a subsidiary of Maoye — to qualified investors in China.

The proceeds from the proposed ABS issuance will be used mainly to refinance existing debt and for general working capital purposes.

"The issuance will improve Maoye's liquidity and lengthen its debt maturity profile, because of the long 12-year tenor of the ABS," says Danny Chan, a Moody's Analyst.

The proposed ABS issuance will have a limited impact on the company's credit metrics because Moody's expects that the majority of the proceeds will be used to refinance existing debt.

The company held RMB1.5 billion in cash on hand at 31 December 2017, which covered merely 16.7% of its short-term debt as of that date. Assuming Maoye uses all of the ABS proceeds to refinance its short-term borrowings, the company's cash to short-term debt would improve to 23.1%.

Maoye's reliance on short-term borrowings to fund its business operations has resulted in a weak liquidity profile; thereby constraining its credit rating.

Nonetheless, Moody's believes that the company can manage its debt refinancing risk by rolling over its existing borrowings, given its fixed assets and investment properties of RMB23.8 billion as of 31 December 2017.

However, the issuance of ABS, if successful, will make the existing unsecured borrowings subordinate to secured liabilities.

At 31 December 2017, about RMB9.5 billion of Maoye's assets were pledged as security for borrowings, representing 19.8% of the company's total assets. The ratio could further increase if only a small portion of proceeds is used to refinancing its existing secured debt. In such a case, the resultant increase in secured borrowings would limit the extent to which asset sales can provide a source of additional liquidity. Moody's will continue to monitor the situation to determine if Maoye's liquidity is constrained in this manner.

The property associated with the proposed ABS, Maoye Shenzhen Dongmen Store, generated sales of RMB853.3 million in 2017 and accounted for 5.7% of Maoye's total sales proceeds.

Moody's expects that Maoye will continue to dispose of its property inventories and non-core assets to improve its capital structure and liquidity profile. Moody's says that Maoye's debt leverage — as measured by debt/EBITDA — will improve to around 5.5x- 6.5x over the next 12-18 months versus 7.6x at 31 December 2017.

The stable outlook on Maoye's rating reflects Moody's expectation that the company can manage the refinancing of its short-term debt, and slow its acquisitions.

Maoye's B3 corporate family rating takes into account the company's: (1) strong market position in its home base, as well as its self-owned-store strategy and concessionaire business model; (2) ability to manage the challenges in China's evolving retail market; (3) track record of growth through acquisitions; (4) exposure to property development risk until its inventory is fully disposed of; and (5) elevated debt leverage and high reliance on short-term funding.

Rating upgrade pressure could arise, if the company can meaningfully reduce its reliance on short-term funding and debt leverage, while remaining prudent in its expansion.

Other indicators for an upgrade include debt/EBITDA below 6.0x-6.5x, and EBITDA/interest above 2.5x.

On the other hand, Maoye's rating could be under downgrade pressure, if it: (1) shows a further deterioration in its liquidity position, such as an inability to refinance short-term debt or materially increases its short-term debt, or (2) takes on significant debt-funded acquisitions.

The principal methodology used in this rating was Retail Industry published in October 2015. Please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

Maoye International Holdings Ltd. is one of the leading department store operators in China (A1 stable). Headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, the company has built a strong position in its home market, while strategically expanding elsewhere in the country. The company had 60 stores in 19 cities across China's four main regions at 31 December 2017.

This publication does not announce a credit rating action. For any credit ratings referenced in this publication, please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the most updated credit rating action information and rating history.

Danny Chan
Analyst
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Hong Kong Ltd.
24/F One Pacific Place
88 Queensway
Hong Kong
China (Hong Kong S.A.R.)
JOURNALISTS: 852 3758 1350
Client Service: 852 3551 3077

Gary Lau
MD - Corporate Finance
Corporate Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 852 3758 1350
Client Service: 852 3551 3077

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Hong Kong Ltd.
24/F One Pacific Place
88 Queensway
Hong Kong
China (Hong Kong S.A.R.)
JOURNALISTS: 852 3758 1350
Client Service: 852 3551 3077

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