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09 Jun 2010
London, 09 June 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service has today changed the rating outlook for
the Ba3 corporate family (CFR) and probability-of-default
(PDR) ratings of Colt Group SA ("Colt") to positive from stable.
Moody's decision to change Colt's outlook to positive is based
on: (i) the consistent year-on-year growth in Colt's
EBITDA margin; (ii) its commitment and progress towards growing its
high-margin Data and Managed Services business; and (iii)
its comfortable liquidity profile. The positive outlook further
reflects Moody's expectation that the company will maintain its
leverage solidly below 2.5x debt/EBITDA (as adjusted by Moody's)
over the medium term and remain focused on free cash flow (FCF) generation
as it continues to invest in the Data and Managed Services segment and
Although Colt's revenues declined by 3.2% during 2009
compared with 2008 levels, Moody's notes that the company
reported a 4.9% increase in EBITDA. This was driven
by a growth in revenues from its Data (by 0.5% from 2008)
and Managed Services (by 24.6%) business, despite
difficult macroeconomic conditions. The reported EBITDA margin
increased to 19.7% from 18.1% over the same
period, supported by an increasing proportion of higher-margin
revenue from the Data and Managed Services division and efficient cost
control. In 2010, Moody's would expect Colt's
revenues and EBITDA generation to be helped by the gradual pick-up
in order bookings, the company's cost control measures and
the growth in its Data and Managed Services businesses, which now
account for approximately 59% of total revenues.
Colt's capex is expected to increase in 2010 compared with 2009
levels, thereby having a constraining effect on the company's
FCF generation for the year. However, the rating agency takes
comfort from the company's cautious approach towards dividends in
2010. In Moody's opinion, Colt's capex/revenue
ratio is likely to remain at the mid-teen level (up from 13.3%
in 2009) over the medium term, in order to support growth in revenues
of the Data and Managed Services business. In this regard,
the rating agency would expect the company to remain focused on FCF generation
(post capex and dividends, as defined by Moody's) while maintaining
a prudent shareholder distribution policy in light of its increased growth
At fiscal year-end 2009, Colt had no financial debt outstanding
and its gross debt/EBITDA ratio (as calculated by Moody's) of 1.8x
reflected Moody's adjustment for operating leases. The ratings
and positive outlook assume that the company's capital structure
will incorporate some financial debt over time.
Upward rating pressure could develop if the company: (i) returns
to positive overall organic revenue growth from 2010 onwards and continues
to generate good EBITDA margins supported by its growing Data and Managed
Services business; (ii) exhibits a commitment to maintain its gross
leverage solidly below 2.5x (as adjusted by Moody's) at the
end of 2010 and beyond; and (iii) continues to make investments in
growing its Managed Services business in particular, while remaining
focused on FCF generation (as defined by Moody's). Further
clarity on company's debt capital structure and on its shareholder
remuneration policy that support the maintenance of leverage solidly below
a 2.5x threshold (as calculated by Moody's) over the medium
term would be an additional important consideration for upward rating
Colt had EUR293.7 million worth of cash and cash equivalents (including
deposits classified as current asset investments) as of 31 March 2010.
Moody's expects this, together with internally generated cash
flows, to provide the company with sufficient capacity to meet its
current operational needs. Going forward, the rating agency
expects Colt to arrange for appropriate debt funding based on its growth
investment requirements (including additional capex and/or add-on
The last rating action on Colt was implemented on 13 October 2009,
when Moody's upgraded the company's CFR to Ba3, with
a stable outlook.
The principal methodology used in rating this issuer was the "Global
Telecommunications Industry Rating Methodology", which can
be found at www.moodys.com in the Rating Methodologies sub-directory
under the Research & Ratings tab. Other methodologies and factors
that may have been considered in the process of rating this issuer can
also be found in the Rating Methodologies sub-directory on Moody's
COLT Group S.A. is one of the leading alternative telecoms
providers in the UK and Europe, offering high-bandwidth data,
voice business communications and integrated IT managed solutions to businesses
and governmental organisations. In 2009, the company generated
revenues of EUR 1.6 billion and reported EBITDA of EUR 318.7
Senior Vice President
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454
Moody's changes Colt's rating outlook to positive from stable
No Related Data.
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