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Rating Action:

Moody's upgrades Anton to B1; outlook stable

 The document has been translated in other languages

21 Feb 2019

Hong Kong, February 21, 2019 -- Moody's Investors Service has upgraded Anton Oilfield Services Group's corporate family and senior unsecured ratings to B1 from B2.

The ratings outlook is stable.

RATINGS RATIONALE

"The upgrade reflects our expectation that the company will be able to maintain its improved credit profile over the next 12-18 months, supported by higher earnings from a steady operating environment, an enhanced cost structure, and prudent capital spending," says Chenyi Lu, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Credit Officer.

The improved operating environment is the result of increased capital spending by upstream oil and gas companies, and increased natural gas and shale gas production activities in China (A1 stable) in turn underpinned by the government's target to increase natural gas in its primary energy mix.

Moody's expects Anton's adjusted debt/EBITDA will improve to 2.5x-3.0x over the next two years from 3.6x for the 12 months ended June 2018, supported by (1) higher earnings from revenue growth and improved cost efficiencies; and (2) a limited increase in debt driven by more prudent capital spending and working capital cycle management. This level of leverage is appropriate for its B1 rating, and provides it with a buffer against potential oil price volatility and its high short-term working capital needs.

"The upgrade also reflects our expectation that the company will continue to build strong operating capabilities and further enhance its track record of operating geographically diversified businesses against the backdrop of oil price volatility, while carefully managing emerging markets risks," adds Lu, who is also Moody's Lead Analyst for Anton.

Anton's growing capabilities and more established operating track record in its overseas businesses, reflected in its integrated services offerings, expanding market shares and strategic partnerships with Chinese oil majors and major global oil companies, will support continued new order growth and partially mitigate oil price volatility.

Anton's strong order book, mainly driven by growth traction in overseas markets, will provide revenue visibility in the next two years. Its order backlog grew 24% to RMB4.35 billion at the end of 2018 from a year prior, representing 1.74x of revenue in the 12 months ended June 2018, despite the oil price volatility in Q4 2018.

Moody's expects the company's revenue to grow by 31.3% in 2018 and 22.2% in 2019, driven by (1) a recovery in its domestic business, as Anton is well positioned to benefit from the strong growth in China's natural gas sector over the next two years; and (2) continued growth traction in its overseas markets, in particular Iraq. Anton reported solid revenue growth of 33.2% year-on-year to RMB1.2 billion in 1H 2018.

Moody's expects Anton's adjusted EBITDA margin will decline slightly to 32%-33% over the next two years from 33.6% for the 12 months ended June 2018, as intense pricing competition will be only partially mitigated by sustained cost and expense control measures.

Anton's liquidity position is weak. At the end of June of 2018, Anton had cash and cash equivalents of RMB451 million and restricted cash of RMB411 million. These liquidity sources and its expected operating cash flows of around RMB185 million over the next 12 months are insufficient to cover its short-term debt of RMB940 million, bills payable of RMB140 million, and estimated maintenance capital expenditure of about RMB150 million over the next 12 months.

However, this weak liquidity position is mitigated by Anton's track record of short-term debt refinancing, especially during the weak oil price environment in 2015 and 2016, and its track record of good access to the debt and equity capital markets.

Anton's B1 corporate family rating reflects the company's (1) integrated business model; (2) strong market position in the domestic oilfield services sector in China with strong technical capabilities in providing key signature services; (3) growing capabilities, improved customer mix and a more established track record of operating geographically diversified businesses; and (4) solid financial leverage.

At the same time, Anton's rating is constrained by (1) its exposure to oil price volatility and risks related to its overseas expansion; (2) the company's small scale and high customer concentration; and (3) its weak liquidity.

The stable rating outlook reflects Moody's expectations that over the next 12-18 months, Anton's credit and liquidity profile will gradually improve on the back of earnings growth, prudent working capital management and capital investments.

The ratings could be upgraded if the company (1) achieves strong growth in its order backlog, revenue and earnings; (2) prudently contains its debt growth and maintains its current credit profile on a sustained basis; and (3) sustains positive free cash flow generation and maintains an adequate liquidity position.

The ratings could be downgraded if (1) Anton's order book declines materially; (2) its financial leverage weakens, such that adjusted debt/EBITDA exceeds 5.5x on a sustained basis, due to from declining profitability or higher debt arising from pressure on its working capital; or (3) its liquidity position weakens.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Global Oilfield Services Industry Rating Methodology published in May 2017. Please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

Listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in December 2007, Anton Oilfield Services Group was founded by its chairman, Mr. Luo Lin, in 1999.

The company is a leading Chinese oilfield services provider, and focuses on China's fast-growing natural gas sector. It offers integrated oil/gas field services solutions covering various phases of field development, including oil production operation services, well completion technologies, and drilling technologies, globally.

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.

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 entity is participating and the rated entity or its agent(s) generally provides 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.

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.

Chenyi Lu
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Corporate Finance Group
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

Clement Cheuk Yiu Wong
Associate Managing Director
Corporate Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 852 3758 1350
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

No Related Data.
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