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Rating Action:

Moody's confirms VW's A3 ratings; Outlook negative

02 Jun 2020

Frankfurt am Main, June 02, 2020 -- Moody's Investors Service, ("Moody's") confirmed the A3 long term issuer rating of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft (VW), the group's P-2 short term rating and the Baa2 rating on the group's hybrid instruments. The outlook on all ratings changed to negative from ratings under review.

This rating action concludes a review for possible downgrade that began on March 25, 2020.

A full list of affected ratings can be found at the end of this press release.

RATINGS RATIONALE

The confirmation of VW's A3 issuer rating reflects Moody's expectation that VW should be in a position to return to meaningful operating profit generation over the second half of 2020 and to return to credit metrics appropriate for its rating by year-end 2022. We expect that during 2020, VW's Moody's adjusted EBITA margin could fall to around 3%, compared with 8.3% in 2019. However, VW should be able to restore its metrics to appropriate levels by 2022 considering its remarkable track record of sustainable performance against most peers over the last 3 years. The group's global reach across a multitude of brands and model types while simultaneously using its large scale to efficiently deploy and use resources should allow it sufficient operating leverage to quickly recover profitability. We also note the group's material exposure to the Chinese market, which we believe will outperform global car markets over the next two years.

Moody's forecasts for the global automotive sector a 20% decline in unit shipments during 2020, with a steep year-over year contraction in the second and third quarters followed by a modest rebound in the fourth quarter. We expect 2021 industry unit sales to rebound and grow by approximately 11%. However, future demand for vehicles could be weaker that our current estimates, the already competitive environment in the auto sector could intensify further, and VW could encounter greater headwinds than currently anticipated.

We view that the company's strong liquidity position affords it the capacity to fund sizable cash requirements that might arise under a potentially extended downturn in the global automotive market as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

VW has constant financing needs related to the funding of its customers, while the industrial activities should be largely self-funding. As of 31 March 2020, the company's sources of cash included of roughly €28 billion in cash and marketable debt securities (before any haircut). In addition, as of 31 December 2019, VW had access to a significant amount of undrawn long-term committed credit facilities, totaling around €27 billion. We expect that VW's liquidity sources comfortably cover its cash uses over at least the next 12 months as of 31 March 2020, including capital spending, dividend payments, working capital and day-to-day needs, as well as the sizeable amount of short-term debt maturities arising from its finance captive operations. Furthermore, with most of the payments related to the diesel issue which are totaling over €30 billion already made in 2016-19, and only around €3 billion likely to be spent in 2020, we expect to see an improvement in the group's liquidity position over the next two years.

The negative outlook reflects the potentially severe impact that the coronavirus could have on VW's operating performance and credit metrics into 2021.

ESG RISK

The widening spread of the coronavirus outbreak, deteriorating global economic outlook, falling oil prices, and asset price declines are creating a severe and extensive credit shock across many sectors, regions and markets. The global automotive industry is one of the sectors that will be most severely impacted by the outbreak. The vulnerability of VW's products to a potentially steep downturn in demand heightens the importance a healthy liquidity profile. We regard the coronavirus outbreak as a social risk under our ESG framework, given the substantial implications for public health and safety.

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

VW's ratings could be downgraded in case of the inability to (1) restore Moody's-adjusted EBITA margin to above 7% (2) to reduce Moody's-adjusted debt/EBITDA to below 2.5x; (3) demonstrate a return to its historically strong free cash flow generation (as adjusted by Moody's) which is anticipated to be materially negative (above €6 billion) in the current year resulting in (4) FCF/debt below the mid-single-digit range in percentage terms for a prolonged period as a result of an operational weakness or more aggressive financial policies. Also, an erosion in VW's market shares in its core markets as well as its inability to enhance Volkswagen Passenger Cars' profitability to a more competitive level on a sustained basis and a weakening of the company's liquidity profile could lead to a downgrade.

Although an upgrade within the next 24 months is not likely, Moody's would consider upgrading the ratings in case of (1) VW's ability to, at least, protect its market share in the major markets where it operates, especially in Western Europe and China, regardless of potential changes in global macroeconomic conditions; (2) a significantly improved competitive position for the Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand and in the US market; (3) a more consistent earnings pattern across its commercial vehicle brands as a result of the successful execution of its long-term plan for the division, (4) the implementation of more stringent corporate governance structures; (5) a sustained robust cash flow generation (with the exception of 2020), despite elevated capital spending, with Moody's-adjusted FCF/debt of around 10% as well as (6) a Moody's-adjusted EBITA margin sustainably above 7%.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS:

..Issuer: Porsche Holding Gesellschaft m.b.H.

Affirmations:

....BACKED Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-2

....No Outlook Assigned

..Issuer: Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft

Affirmations:

....Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-2

Confirmations, previously placed on review for downgrade:

.... LT Issuer Rating, Confirmed at A3

....Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Confirmed at (P)A3

Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Changed To Negative From Ratings Under Review

..Issuer: Volkswagen Group Canada, Inc.

Affirmations:

....BACKED Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-2

....No Outlook Assigned

..Issuer: Volkswagen Group of America Finance, LLC

Affirmations:

....BACKED Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-2

Confirmations, previously placed on review for downgrade:

....BACKED Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Confirmed at A3

Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Changed To Negative From Ratings Under Review

..Issuer: Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

Affirmations:

....BACKED Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-2

....No Outlook Assigned

..Issuer: Volkswagen International Belgium S.A.

Affirmations:

....Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-2

....Other Short Term, Affirmed P-2

....No Outlook Assigned

..Issuer: Volkswagen International Finance N.V.

Affirmations:

....BACKED Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-2

....BACKED Other Short Term, Affirmed (P)P-2

Confirmations, previously placed on review for downgrade:

....BACKED Junior Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture, Confirmed at Baa2

....BACKED Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Confirmed at (P)A3

....BACKED Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Confirmed at A3

Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Changed To Negative From Ratings Under Review

..Issuer: Volkswagen International Luxemburg S.A

Affirmations:

....BACKED Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-2

....No Outlook Assigned

..Issuer: VW Credit Canada, Inc.

Affirmations:

....BACKED Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-2

....BACKED Other Short Term, Affirmed (P)P-2

Confirmations, previously placed on review for downgrade:

....BACKED Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Confirmed at (P)A3

....BACKED Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Confirmed at A3

Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Changed To Negative From Ratings Under Review

..Issuer: VW Credit, Inc.

Affirmations:

....BACKED Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-2

....BACKED Other Short Term, Affirmed (P)P-2

Confirmations, previously placed on review for downgrade:

....BACKED Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Confirmed at (P)A3

Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Changed To Negative From Ratings Under Review

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Automobile Manufacturer Industry published in June 2017 and available at https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1062773. Alternatively, please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

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.

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.

At least one ESG consideration was material to the credit rating action(s) announced and described above.

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.

Falk Frey
Senior Vice President
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
An der Welle 5
Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Anke Rindermann
Associate Managing Director
Corporate Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
An der Welle 5
Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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