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Rating Action:

Moody's assigns first-time B1 ratings to NagaCorp Ltd.; outlook stable

30 Apr 2018

Singapore, April 30, 2018 -- Moody's Investors Service has assigned a first-time B1 corporate family rating to NagaCorp Ltd.

At the same time, Moody's has assigned a B1 backed senior unsecured rating to the company's proposed US dollar bond issuance. The proposed bonds are unconditionally and irrevocably guaranteed by major operating subsidiaries of NagaCorp.

The outlook on the ratings is stable.

NagaCorp will use the net bond proceeds to grow its VIP gaming segment and refurbish the hotel rooms in Naga 1.

RATINGS RATIONALE

"NagaCorp's B1 rating reflects its ownership of NagaWorld, which holds the exclusive right to operate casinos in and around Phnom Penh, Cambodia," says Jacintha Poh, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Analyst.

NagaCorp's casino license was awarded to its wholly owned subsidiary, Ariston Sdn. Berhad, by the Cambodian government on 2 January 1995 for a duration of 70 years, expiring in 2065. Ariston Sdn. Berhad is the sole casino operator in the area within a 200 kilometer radius of Phnom Penh, except the Cambodia-Vietnam border area, Bokor, Kirirom Mountains and Sihanoukville, up to the end of 2035. The casino license allows NagaCorp to adjust its capacity to suit market demand, as there are no restrictions on operating hours or the number of gaming tables and machines.

NagaCorp's B1 rating is also supported by the company's diversified business, which allows it to generate a fairly balanced gross profit distribution across its three major business segments of (1) mass-market table games; (2) mass-market electronic gaming; and (3) VIP gaming. The company also derives earnings from a diversified customer base, with tourists arriving from Greater China, Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries.

"NagaCorp is rated one notch above Cambodia's sovereign rating, based on our assessment of the low likelihood that NagaCorp would be affected in the event of a weakening of Cambodia's economic fundamentals," says Poh, who is also Moody's Lead Analyst for NagaCorp, adding "The company generates nearly all of its revenue from tourists and does not rely on domestic banks or capital markets for funding."

Since its listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2006, NagaCorp has gradually grown its revenue, despite economic challenges and increasing competition within the gaming industry in Asia. In 2017, the company recorded its strongest growth in revenue owing to a sharp increase in its VIP gaming business. Moody's expects NagaCorp's revenue to grow around 20% each year in 2018 and 2019, supported by improvements across its mass-market gaming and VIP gaming businesses with the ramp up of Naga 2, which opened in November 2017.

Moody's expects NagaCorp's mass-market gaming business to be driven by the company's collaboration with China International Travel Services Limited, China Duty Free Group, and Bassaka Air to increase tourist visits to Cambodia and NagaWorld. Over the last five years, Chinese tourist arrivals to Cambodia have grown at a CAGR of 27% to around 1.2 million in 2017 and accounted for 21% of total tourist arrivals to Cambodia, according to Cambodia's Ministry of Tourism. The company also plans to further grow its VIP gaming segment by offering competitive incentives or commissions to gaming promoters.

Consequently, Moody's expects NagaCorp's financial metrics to remain solid for its B1 rating, despite an increase in debt. Specifically, Moody's expects NagaCorp to record adjusted debt/EBITDA of around 1.5x, EBIT/interest expense of around 11.2x and RCF/debt of around 30% in 2018.

Over the next 12-18 months, Moody's also expects NagaCorp to generate an EBITDA margin of around 30%, which is lower than its last five-year average of around 45%, but is still high among listed gaming companies. The company's high margin is supported by the low labor costs and favorable gaming tax environment in Cambodia.

The drop in NagaCorp's EBITDA margin will be due to the growing proportion of revenue from the VIP gaming business, which generates lower margins than the mass-market gaming business. Over the next 12-18 months, Moody's estimates NagaCorp's gross profit margins for its VIP gaming business to be around 20%, and for its mass-market gaming business to be around 95%.

NagaCorp's rating is constrained by (1) the company's single-site operation; (2) uncertainty around tax rates and the timing of Cambodia's new gaming law; and (3) its exposure to political instability in Cambodia, changes in economic policies and weaknesses relating to the country's legal system.

NagaCorp's proposed US dollar senior unsecured notes are not exposed to either legal or structural subordination risk, and are fully guaranteed by the company's major operating subsidiaries, and are therefore rated at the same level as the company's B1 corporate family rating.

According to Cambodia's 1997 Law on Foreign Exchange, there are no restrictions on foreign exchange operations through authorized banks. NagaCorp has established a track record of repatriating funds from its NagaWorld operations to the holding company and has paid dividends to the company's shareholders.

The rating outlook is stable, reflecting Moody's expectation that NagaCorp will carry out its expansion plans in a prudent manner while maintaining solid financial metrics and liquidity over the next 12-18 months.

NagaCorp's rating is unlikely to be upgraded, because it is constrained to one notch above Cambodia's sovereign rating. To upgrade the rating, Moody's would expect -- in addition to a sovereign upgrade -- the company to maintain its strong operating position within the Cambodian gaming market and solid financial metrics as evidenced by adjusted debt/EBITDA below 2.0x and adjusted retained cash flow/debt above 25%.

Downward rating pressure could emerge if (1) Cambodia's rating is downgraded; (2) the operating environment deteriorates, resulting in protracted weakness in operating cash flow generation; (3) the company fails to maintain 100% ownership of Ariston Sdn. Bhd, which holds its Cambodian casino license, and 100% ownership of NagaWorld; (4) the company increases its debt leverage, capital spending or shareholder returns, such that its adjusted debt/EBITDA exceeds 2.5x and adjusted retained cash flow/debt falls below 20% over the next 12-18 months; and (5) the company has insufficient cash to cover its short-term debt obligations.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Gaming Industry published in December 2017. Please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

NagaCorp Ltd. was incorporated in the Cayman Islands in 2003 and listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in 2006. The company owns and manages NagaWorld, the largest integrated casino and hotel complex in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It is developing a second integrated casino and hotel complex in Vladivostok, Russia, which the company expects will commence operation in 2019. NagaCorp was founded by Tan Sri Dr. Chen Lip Keong, the company's chief executive officer and largest shareholder with a 65% stake as of 31 March 2018.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt 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.

Jacintha Poh
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Singapore Pte. Ltd.
50 Raffles Place #23-06
Singapore Land Tower
Singapore 48623
Singapore
JOURNALISTS: 852 3758 1350
Client Service: 852 3551 3077

Laura Acres
MD - Corporate Finance
Corporate Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 852 3758 1350
Client Service: 852 3551 3077

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Singapore Pte. Ltd.
50 Raffles Place #23-06
Singapore Land Tower
Singapore 48623
Singapore
JOURNALISTS: 852 3758 1350
Client Service: 852 3551 3077

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