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Rating Action:

Moody's affirms Ellenbrook Developments plc's underlying rating at A3; changes outlook to positive

05 Nov 2019

London, 05 November 2019 -- Moody's Investors Service ("Moody's") has today affirmed, at A3, the underlying rating of the GBP 60.0 million 3.389% index-linked guaranteed senior secured bonds due 2032 (the "Bonds") issued by Ellenbrook Developments plc ("ProjectCo") in February 2002. Concurrently Moody's has changed the outlook on the ratings to positive from stable.

The assigned rating of the Bonds is unchanged at A2 and reflects the unconditional and irrevocable guarantee of scheduled principal and interest provided by Assured Guaranty (Europe) plc ("AG" rated A2, stable).

RATINGS RATIONALE

"Today's change of outlook reflects continued satisfactory operating performance and completion of the passive fire protection remedial works. ProjectCo is currently investigating a minor fault with the swimming pool floor. Successful resolution would further improve ProjectCo's credit profile" says Kunal Govindia, an AVP-Analyst in Moody's Infrastructure Finance Group and lead analyst for Ellenbrook Developments plc.

The A3 underlying rating reflects as positives (1) a long-term project agreement (PA) with the University of Hertfordshire Higher Education Corporation (the University) to build new student accommodation, sport and leisure facilities on the de Havilland Campus at the University of Hertfordshire, UK, and then provide certain facilities management (FM) services and lifecycle maintenance; (2) satisfactory operating performance following Pinnacle joining the project as FM subcontractor; and (3) a range of creditor protections included within the financing structure such as debt service and lifecycle maintenance reserves.

However the rating is constrained by (1) the execution risk associated with rectifying the minor swimming pool floor issue, in particular whether the pool floor surface will require modification; and (2) the project's relatively low coverage ratios and breakeven sensitivities compared to other public private partnership projects rated by Moody's.

The Bonds benefit from an unconditional and irrevocable guarantee of scheduled principal and interest by AG. The A2 rating on the Bonds is determined as the higher of (1) AG's rating of A2; and (2) the A3 underlying rating.

The outlook on the ratings is positive, reflecting that a successful resolution of the swimming pool issue, together with continued satisfactory operating performance, would improve the issuer's credit profile.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING UP/DOWN

Moody's could consider upgrading the underlying rating if (1) the swimming pool issue is successfully resolved without ProjectCo incurring material costs; and (2) ProjectCo continues demonstrating satisfactory operational performance.

Moody's could consider downgrading the underlying rating if (1) there is a significant deterioration in service delivery, resulting in significant financial deductions or an increased risk of early termination of the PA; or (2) if evidence emerges that the lifecycle budget is inadequate.

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in this rating was Operational Privately Financed Public Infrastructure (PFI/PPP/P3) Projects published in October 2018. Please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

ProjectCo is a special purpose company which, in 2002, entered into a 32-year PA with the University to design and construct new student accommodation, sport and leisure facilities and associated works at the de Havilland Campus and provide facilities management services.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series, category/class of debt or security this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series, category/class of debt, security or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the credit rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular credit rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

For any affected securities or rated entities receiving direct credit support from the primary entity(ies) of this credit rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this credit rating action, the associated regulatory disclosures will be those of the guarantor entity. Exceptions to this approach exist for the following disclosures, if applicable to jurisdiction: Ancillary Services, Disclosure to rated entity, Disclosure from rated entity.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Kunal Govindia
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Infrastructure Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Kevin Maddick
Associate Managing Director
Infrastructure Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service EMEA Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

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