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Rating Action:

Moody's affirms ratings of all six Chinese toll road companies, changes outlook to stable

 The document has been translated in other languages

09 Nov 2020

Hong Kong, November 09, 2020 -- Moody's Investors Service has affirmed the ratings of six toll road companies and their rated subsidiaries in China.

At the same time, Moody's has changed the rating outlooks to stable from negative on:

- Anhui Transportation Holding Group Co., Ltd.'s Baa1 issuer rating

- Anhui Transportation Holding Group (H.K.) Ltd's Baa1 BACKED senior unsecured rating

- Guangzhou Communications Investment Group's Baa2 issuer rating

- Shandong Hi-speed Group Co., Ltd's A3 issuer rating

- Yuexiu Transport Infrastructure Limited's Baa2 issuer rating

- Famous Kind International Limited's (P)Baa2 BACKED Senior Unsecured MTN program rating

- Shenzhen Expressway Company Limited's Baa2 issuer rating and senior unsecured rating

- Shenzhen International Holdings Limited's Baa2 issuer rating and senior unsecured rating

A list of all affected ratings and assessments is provided at the end of this press release.

RATINGS RATIONALE

"The change in outlook to stable for the six toll road operators reflects our expectation that their operating and financial performance will continue to recover to a level consistent with their ratings, in view of a continued recovery of traffic volume after the resumption of toll collection in May," says Ivy Poon, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Analyst.

"We expect that the toll revenue of rated issuers will continue to improve as the economy recovers, despite some weakening this year due to the coronavirus outbreak," adds Poon.

According to statistics from China's Ministry of Transport, road traffic volume showed a continued recovery momentum since the relaxation of traffic restrictions in March. All toll road operators have shown a recovery in revenue performance, following the resumption of tolls at all toll roads and bridges in May, ending the toll-free policy period that had been in place since February. The daily average toll road traffic volume recorded a 5.4% growth during the 6 May to 26 October period, compared with the same period last year.

The ongoing recovery in traffic volume and the resumption of tolls have largely relieved concerns over the uncertainties on the sector's performance and recovery, which was a key consideration of the companies' negative outlooks back in March. Accordingly, Moody's expects that the financial metrics of most toll road issuers will be within their current rating tolerance levels in the next 12-18 months, after the one-year dip in 2020.

At the same time, Moody's expects most rated toll road operators' leverage will remain high, given that their sizeable investment plans, which were in place before the coronavirus outbreak, are likely to be maintained or further increased as the government continues to strengthen the transportation network to support balanced regional development and urbanization and to facilitate the post-pandemic economic recovery.

Moody's expects the rated toll road operators' financial risk will be partly mitigated by recurring government fiscal support. These companies already enjoy strong market positions, lower funding costs and ample funding access because of their status as state-owned enterprises, which support their current credit profiles. In addition, sustained low interest rates and a looser credit environment will provide further financial flexibility and broaden infrastructure companies' funding channels.

Specifically for Shenzhen International, while the heightened leverage will weaken the company's standalone credit profile over the next three years, this will be partly mitigated by Moody's expectation of higher support for the company from Shenzhen Investment Holdings Co., Ltd. (Shenzhen Investment, A2 stable), the Shenzhen municipal government, and ultimately the Government of China (A1 stable) in times of need. Such expectation is underpinned by the higher strategic importance of Shenzhen International as a key municipal-owned infrastructure platform tasked with strengthening the transportation and logistics networks in Shenzhen with the nearby regions. As a result, Moody's has increased the uplift incorporated into the company's Baa2 rating to two notches from one notch.

Overall, Moody's expects the rated toll road companies will maintain sound liquidity with proven funding access, and their refinancing risks will be manageable at current rating levels.

FACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO AN UPGRADE OR DOWNGRADE OF THE RATINGS

Anhui Transportation Holding Group Co., Ltd.

The stable outlook reflects (1) the stable outlook on China's sovereign rating, and (2) the consideration that Anhui Transportation's BCA is appropriately positioned at the current level.

The stable outlook also reflects Moody's expectation that Anhui Transportation will (1) maintain a stable financial profile, which takes into consideration the grants and subsidies from the Anhui provincial government; (2) maintain its ownership of strategic transportation assets and dominant position in the local toll road sector; and (3) maintain its access to funding, supported by its policy role.

Moody's could upgrade the ratings if (1) the likelihood of government support for Anhui Transportation increases; (2) the company's BCA improves significantly; or (3) the company's policy functions materially increase.

Moody's would raise the company's BCA if it improves its financial profile by increasing its earnings and reducing debt. Credit metrics that could lift its BCA include adjusted funds from operations (FFO)/debt, after including adjustments for government payments, exceeding 7% on a sustained basis.

However, Moody's could downgrade the ratings if (1) the likelihood of government support for Anhui Transportation decreases; (2) the company's BCA weakens meaningfully; or (3) the company's policy functions materially weakens.

Downgrade pressure could also emerge if Anhui Transportation (1) takes on even more aggressive debt-funded capital spending; (2) develops a substantially weaker credit profile; or (3) is affected by adverse changes in the regulatory or economic environment.

Credit metrics that could pressure the company's BCA include adjusted FFO/debt, after including adjustments for government payments, remaining below 3% on a sustained basis.

Guangzhou Communications Investment Group

The stable outlook reflects (1) the stable outlook on China's sovereign rating; and (2) the consideration that Guangzhou Communication's BCA is appropriately positioned at the current level.

The stable outlook also reflects Moody's expectation that the company will (1) maintain a stable financial profile, which takes into consideration the grants and subsidies from the Guangzhou government; (2) maintain its ownership of strategic transportation assets and dominant position in the local toll road sector; (3) not engage in non-transportation-related operations or aggressive debt-funded M&A; and (4) maintain its access to funding, supported by its policy role.

Moody's could upgrade the ratings if (1) the likelihood of government support for Guangzhou Communications increases; (2) the company's standalone credit profile improves significantly; or (3) the company's policy functions materially increase.

Financial metrics that would indicate an improvement in the company's BCA include FFO interest coverage exceeding 3.0x on a sustained basis, after taking into consideration recurring government grants and subsidies.

Moody's could downgrade the ratings if (1) the likelihood of government support for the company decreases; (2) the company's standalone credit profile weakens meaningfully; or (3) the company's policy functions materially weakens.

Downward pressure may emerge if (1) the company is unable to obtain sufficient external funding to refinance its debt and support its expansion; (2) the company fails to secure ongoing support from the Guangzhou government; (3) a material change in the economic environment in Guangzhou weakens toll road traffic volumes; or (4) there are adverse changes in the regulatory environment.

Financial metrics that would lead to a downgrade of the company's BCA include FFO interest coverage falling below 1.0x on a sustained basis, after taking into consideration recurring government grants and subsidies.

Shandong Hi-speed Group Co., Ltd

The stable outlook reflects (1) the stable outlook on China's sovereign rating; and (2) the consideration that Shandong Hi-speed's BCA is appropriately positioned at the current level.

Moody's could upgrade the ratings if (1) the likelihood of support for the company increases; and/or (2) the company's standalone credit profile improves significantly.

Moody's would raise Shandong Hi-speed's BCA if the company improves its financial profile such that its adjusted FFO/debt, excluding its financial segment but including government cash payments, exceeds 7% on a sustained basis.

A downgrade of the ratings could arise if the likelihood of government support for the company decreases, the company's standalone credit profile weakens significantly or its policy functions weaken significantly. Moody's could lower the company's BCA if the company takes on more aggressive debt-funded capital spending or is unable to control the risks associated with its non-railway and non-toll road businesses.

Credit metrics that could pressure the company's BCA include (1) its adjusted FFO/debt, excluding its financial segment and including government cash payments, remaining below 3%, primarily driven by its non-financial business segments; or (2) its adjusted FFO interest coverage, excluding its financial segment but including government cash payments, falling below 1x over a prolonged period.

Yuexiu Transport Infrastructure Limited

The stable outlook reflects Moody's expectation that the company's toll road portfolio will continue to generate steady cash flow in the next 12-18 months, assuming no material debt-funded acquisitions.

Upward rating pressure is limited in the near term, given the weaker credit profile of Yuexiu Group, and the expected opacity around the regulatory framework over the next two years.

Nonetheless, upward rating pressure could emerge over time if (1) FFO/debt rises above 20% on a sustained basis; (2) Yuexiu Transport establishes track record of positive free cash flow generation, and (3) the company does not make material debt-funded acquisitions.

Moody's could downgrade the company's rating if (1) it engages in material debt-funded expansion projects or acquisitions; (2) there are adverse material changes in the macroeconomic environment or government policies, which impair the company's traffic volumes or toll revenue; or (3) there is evidence of excessive cash leakage from Yuexiu Transport to its parent company or the group's subsidiaries, or there are signs of material weakening in its parent group's credit profile.

Financial indicators that could lead to a downgrade include FFO/debt below 12.5% on a prolonged basis.

Shenzhen Expressway Company Limited

The stable outlook reflects Moody's expectations that Shenzhen Expressway will (1) maintain its stable financial profile over the next 12-18 months, and (2) not engage in capital spending and acquisitions that would materially weaken its business and financial profiles.

Moody's could upgrade the rating if the company undertakes meaningful deleveraging, which could be driven by equity issuance and a moderation in acquisitions or investments, particularly in non-related businesses.

Key financial metrics that could lead to an upgrade include (1) FFO/debt exceeding 20%; and (2) cash interest coverage exceeding 5.0x, both on a sustained basis.

Downgrade pressure could emerge if (1) the company's FFO/debt drops below 15% and cash interest coverage remains below 2.0x on a sustained basis; and (2) contributions from non-toll-road businesses exceed 35%-40% of total assets on a sustained basis.

Changes of the rating of its parent, Shenzhen International Holdings Limited, could also lead to a review of the company's rating.

Shenzhen International Holdings Limited

The stable outlook reflects Moody's expectation of (1) Shenzhen International will maintain a stable credit profile underpinned by increasing strategic importance to the Shenzhen municipal government, and (2) the stable outlook on the China sovereign rating over the next 12-18 months.

The company's issuer rating could be upgraded if (1) support from the government further strengthens or (2) the company's standalone credit profile significantly improves.

Financial metrics that would indicate an improvement in the company's standalone credit profile include (1) FFO/interest cover of more than 3.0x and/or FFO/debt of over 11% on a sustained basis.

Shenzhen International's issuer rating could be downgraded if (1) support from the government will weaken or (2) the company's standalone credit profile deteriorates.

A deterioration in the company's standalone credit profile could occur as a result of (1) a material change in the macroeconomic environment in Shenzhen; (2) adverse policy changes by the government that negatively impact the company's business or financial risk profiles; or (3) heavy debt-funded acquisitions and investments, or a shift away from its's core infrastructure activities.

Financial metrics that could indicate a weakening in its standalone credit profile include FFO/debt falling below 6% and FFO/ interest cover dropping below 1.5x, without a significant cash buffer.

The principal methodologies used in rating Anhui Transportation Holding Group Co., Ltd., Anhui Transportation Holding Group (H.K.) Ltd, Guangzhou Communications Investment Group, and Shandong Hi-speed Group Co., Ltd were Publicly Managed Toll Roads and Parking Facilities published in March 2019 and available at https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1091602, and Government-Related Issuers Methodology published in February 2020 and available at https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1186207. The principal methodology used in rating Shenzhen International Holdings Limited, Shenzhen Expressway Company Limited, Yuexiu Transport Infrastructure Limited, and Famous Kind International Limited was Privately Managed Toll Roads published in October 2017 and available at https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1096736. Alternatively, please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of these methodologies.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

..Issuer: Anhui Transportation Holding Group Co., Ltd. (Lead Analyst: Ralph Ng)

....Long-term Issuer Rating (Foreign and Local Currency), Affirmed Baa1

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: Anhui Transportation Holding Group (H.K.) Ltd (Lead Analyst: Ralph Ng)

....BACKED Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture (Foreign Currency), Affirmed Baa1

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: Guangzhou Communications Investment Group (Lead Analyst: Ralph Ng)

....Long-term Issuer Rating (Foreign and Local Currency), Affirmed Baa2

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: Shandong Hi-speed Group Co., Ltd (Lead Analyst: Ada Li)

....Long-term Issuer Rating (Foreign Currency), Affirmed A3

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: Yuexiu Transport Infrastructure Limited (Lead Analyst: Ivy Poon)

....Long-term Issuer Rating (Foreign and Local Currency), Affirmed Baa2

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: Famous Kind International Limited (Lead Analyst: Ivy Poon)

....BACKED Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)Baa2

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: Shenzhen Expressway Company Limited (Lead Analyst: Ivy Poon)

....Long-term Issuer Rating (Foreign Currency), Affirmed Baa2

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture (Foreign Currency), Affirmed Baa2

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: Shenzhen International Holdings Limited (Lead Analyst: Ivy Poon)

....Long-term Issuer Rating (Foreign Currency), Affirmed Baa2

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture (Foreign Currency), Affirmed Baa2

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For further specification of Moody's key rating assumptions and sensitivity analysis, see the sections Methodology Assumptions and Sensitivity to Assumptions in the disclosure form. Moody's Rating Symbols and Definitions can be found at: https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_79004.

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.

The ratings have been disclosed to the rated entity or its designated agent(s) and issued with no amendment resulting from that disclosure.

These ratings are solicited. Please refer to Moody's Policy for Designating and Assigning Unsolicited Credit Ratings available on its website www.moodys.com.

Moody's considers a rated entity or its agent(s) to be participating when it maintains an overall relationship with Moody's. Unless noted in the Regulatory Disclosures as a Non-Participating Entity, the rated entities are participating and the rated entities or their agent(s) generally provide Moody's with information for the purposes of its ratings process. Please refer to www.moodys.com for the Regulatory Disclosures for each credit rating action under the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page and for details of Moody's Policy for Designating Non-Participating Rated Entities.

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

Moody's general principles for assessing environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks in our credit analysis can be found at https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1133569.

The Global Scale Credit Rating on this Credit Rating Announcement was issued by one of Moody's affiliates outside the EU and is endorsed by Moody's Deutschland GmbH, An der Welle 5, Frankfurt am Main 60322, Germany, in accordance with Art.4 paragraph 3 of the Regulation (EC) No 1060/2009 on Credit Rating Agencies. Further information on the EU endorsement status and on the Moody's office that issued the credit rating is available on www.moodys.com.

The below contact information is provided for information purposes only. Please see the ratings tab of the issuer page at www.moodys.com, for each of the ratings covered, Moody's disclosures on the lead rating analyst and the Moody's legal entity that has issued the ratings.

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.

The first name below is the lead rating analyst for this Credit Rating and the last name below is the person primarily responsible for approving this Credit Rating.

Ivy Poon
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Project & Infrastructure Finance
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

Terry Fanous
MD-Public Proj & Infstr Fin
Project & Infrastructure Finance
JOURNALISTS: 61 2 9270 8141
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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