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Rating Action:

Moody's downgrades Tower Bersama's ratings to Ba3; outlook stable

11 Dec 2015

Singapore, December 11, 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service has downgraded Tower Bersama Infrastructure Tbk (P.T.)'s (TBI) corporate family rating to Ba3 from Ba2.

At the same time, Moody's has downgraded the rating on the $300 million senior unsecured notes issued by TBG Global Pte. Ltd. -- a wholly-owned subsidiary of TBI -- to Ba3 from Ba2. The notes are unconditionally and irrevocably guaranteed by TBI.

The outlook on all the ratings is stable.

RATINGS RATIONALE

TBI's leverage, which surged to 6.3x following its debt-funded acquisition of 2,500 towers from Indosat in 2012, has persistently remained above our tolerance for the rating since that time.

Furthermore, on 23 November, the company announced its shareholder returns policy which guided to dividends and/or share buybacks of IDR1 trillion in 2016. This amount is expected to increase every year.

At the same time, TBI's equity-funded acquisition of Mitratel (unrated) is in the process of being terminated by the Board of Commissioners of Mitratel's parent company, PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom, Baa1 stable).

"Termination of the Mitratel deal -- coupled with TBI's plans to increase shareholder returns -- will result in adjusted leverage remaining at 6x-7x, without any plans to return to pre-acquisition levels," says Nidhi Dhruv, a Moody's Assistant Vice President.

TBI's increased shareholder returns policy indicates a more aggressive financial policy of keeping net debt/annualized EBITDA at about 5x. It will also lead to TBI reporting lower retained cash flows and negative free cash flows over the next 3 years, meaning that the company will be effectively borrowing to maintain its dividend payments.

"Moody's is also concerned about the perceived increase in management's level of risk tolerance, given that it is extracting higher cash returns from the company, while still actively pursuing both organic and inorganic growth opportunities," says Dhruv, also Moody's Lead Analyst for TBI.

"The change in financial policy also comes at a time when TBI could potentially face more headwinds on its contract renewals, particularly as the renewal rates in Indonesia have not yet been tested to a meaningful extent," adds Dhruv.

As towers are a critical component of a wireless operators' network, the likelihood of carriers renewing contracts is -- in our opinion -- high. However, the independent Indonesian tower market has over the past two years become far more competitive with three sizeable operators -- TBI, Profesional Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Ba1 stable) and Solusi Tunas Pratama (unrated) -- each actively pursuing their own growth opportunities.

Moody's notes that, as indicated in its financial statements, TBI has entered into a series of life-of-debt hedges, which match the maturity of its debt, and provide a degree of protection against currency depreciation in view of the currency mismatch between TBI's revenue and debt.

However, even on a fully hedged basis, adjusted leverage remains high at 5.5-5.8x.

Nonetheless, TBI's Ba3 ratings remain supported by its position as one of the two leading independent telecommunications tower companies in Indonesia founded on a business model which has a high degree of revenue transparency and predictability.

In addition, TBI maintains a high quality cash flow stream because of the substantial presence of Indonesia's "Big 4" telecommunications operators in its tenant base. These companies accounted for 83% of TBI's total revenue for January-September 2015.

The "Big 4" are PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia (Telkom, Baa1 stable); PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Baa1 stable); XL Axiata Tbk (P.T.) (Ba1 stable); and Indosat Tbk. (P.T.) (Ba1 stable).

At the same time, TBI benefits from a strong liquidity profile, supported by strong access to bank funding, and with adequate headroom under its covenants. The company also faces no major debt maturities until 2018.

The stable outlook reflects our expectation that the company will continue to deliver on Moody's expectations for business growth and contract renewals, and that the regulatory environment will continue to remain relatively benign.

Near-term upward pressure on the rating is limited, given the downgrade. However, upward momentum could materialize over time if TBI demonstrates its ability to renew contracts at similar or better terms when compared to current agreements.

In addition, credit metrics that would be supportive of an upgrade include: 1) adjusted debt/EBITDA of 4.5-5.0x; 2) interest cover -- as measured by (FFO + interest)/interest -- of 2.0x-3.0x; and 3) RCF/debt above 10% on a consistent basis.

Further downward pressure on the ratings could arise if the prevailing industry slowdown continues, the company faces challenges in renewing contracts, or TBI makes significant debt-funded acquisitions, or materially increases shareholder payouts which lead to a deterioration in its financial metrics.

Specific indicators include 1) adjusted debt/EBITDA above 7.0x; 2) (FFO + interest)/interest below 1.5-2.0x; and 3) negative RCF/debt on a consistent basis.

In addition, Moody's would be concerned should the proportion of revenues contributed by its key customer group -- comprising the "Big 4" -- falls below 50%-55%.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Global Communications Infrastructure Rating Methodology published in June 2011. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

Tower Bersama Infrastructure Tbk (P.T.) is the holding company of the Tower Bersama Group, one of the two leading independent tower operators in Indonesia, with 11,291 telecommunication sites serving 18,642 tenants as of September 2015. It leases space on its telecommunications towers to cellular telecommunications operators on long-term contracts.

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 rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular 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 rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this 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.

Nidhi Dhruv, CFA
Asst Vice President - 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
SUBSCRIBERS: (852) 3551-3077

Laura Acres
MD - Corporate Finance
Corporate Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: (852) 3758 -1350
SUBSCRIBERS: (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
SUBSCRIBERS: (852) 3551-3077

Moody's downgrades Tower Bersama's ratings to Ba3; outlook stable
No Related Data.
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