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Rating Action:

Moody's upgrades ratings of Peabody Trust to A2; withdraws ratings of Family Mosaic

17 Jul 2017

London, 17 July 2017 -- Moody's Public Sector Europe (MPSE) has upgraded the long-term issuer rating of Peabody Trust (Peabody) to A2 from A3 and assigned a negative outlook, upon completion of a merger with Family Mosaic. At the same time, the rating agency has upgraded the long-term senior secured ratings of Peabody Capital Plc and Peabody Capital No 2 Plc to A2 from A3 and assigned a negative outlook, in-line with the parent rating and outlook. This action concludes the review for upgrade that was initiated on 30 June 2017.

The upgrade reflects Moody's view that the key credit metrics of the merged entity, which will retain the Peabody name, are more closely aligned with its A2 peers.

Concurrently, MPSE has withdrawn Family Mosaic's A1 long-term issuer rating, as the Family Mosaic is now a subsidiary of Peabody.

RATINGS RATIONALE

Today's upgrade of Peabody's long-term issuer rating to A2 primarily reflects Moody's expectation that the key credit metrics of the merged entity, as currently projected, will be more closely aligned with its A2 peers. In particular the Social Housing Letting Interest Coverage will average 1.1x and Cash Flow Volatility Interest Coverage will remain over 1x over the next four years, representing a material improvement relative to Peabody's standalone forecasts. The debt burden will remain low in relation to peers, averaging 38.4% debt to assets-at-cost and 3.2x debt to revenue in the same time period, combining a strength of both entities.

The rating action also takes into account the merger's credit challenges, which include the management of development plans containing a significant amount of market sales risk. The merged entity's sales revenue as a proportion of turnover will reach 50 percent within four years. This would place the merged entity in a sales exposure category similar to L&Q Group (A2, negative) and Notting Hill Housing Group (A2, negative), and will be an area of credit concern for the merged entity.

The capital spending required for this level of anticipated development will also challenge the merged entity's liquidity ratios, which will remain at or below 1x in the medium and near term. Mitigating this liquidity risk is the merged entity's treasury management policy which requires that sufficient cash and secured loan facilities be held to cover total contractually committed development spend. Furthermore, the merged entity will have a large proportion of unencumbered assets, which management estimates to be equivalent to GBP1.7 billion in borrowing capacity. This stock of unencumbered assets will give the merged entity significant borrowing headroom, even after accounting for the approximately GBP670 million of additional debt that management plans to take on between FY2018 and FY2021.

In addition, as a 54,000 unit social landlord based in London and the South East of England, the size and focus of the merged entity will confer greater heft in policy and partnership discussions with local and national actors in the social housing sector. Furthermore, management anticipates significant efficiency savings, estimated at about 4.5% of projected FY2018 operating costs per year by the third year of merger, from combining the two entities.

The final rating of A2 incorporates Peabody's baseline credit assessment (BCA) of baa2 with the uplift provided by Moody's assessment of a strong likelihood of support from the UK government (Aa1, negative).

RATIONALE FOR NEGATIVE OUTLOOK

The outlook on Peabody's rating is negative reflecting the sector-wide risks on the housing association (HA) sector following the UK's decision to leave the European Union (EU). Pressures on public finances stemming from weaker GDP growth could result in further policies restricting HA revenues.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATINGS -- UP/DOWN

One or a combination of the following could have positive rating implications: Strengthening in social housing lettings interest cover ratio to levels sustained above 1.8x; improvement in liquidity coverage ratio to consistently over 1.5x; greater cash flow stability, supporting a CVIC of consistently above 1.5x.

Negative pressure could be exerted on the rating by one or a combination of the following: Material scaling up of the development programme; weakening of interest cover ratios; failure to meet liquidity policy thresholds or deterioration of liquidity coverage ratio to under 0.5x; failure to deliver on merger benefit expectations.

Furthermore, evidence of a weaker regulatory framework, a dilution of the overall level of support from the UK government (Aa1, negative) or a downgrade of the UK sovereign rating would also exert downward pressure on the rating.

The methodologies used in this rating were European Social Housing Providers published in July 2016, and Government-Related Issuers published in October 2014. Please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of these methodologies.

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.

Cynthia Mar
Analyst
Sub-Sovereign Group
Moody's Investors Service EMEA Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

David Rubinoff
MD - Sub Sovereigns
Sub-Sovereign Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service EMEA Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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