S&P Global Ratings assigns a BBB + credit rating to AST
For the first time, the international credit rating agency S&P Global Ratings (S&P) has assessed and assigned the Latvian transmission system operator AS Augstsprieguma tīkls (AST) a long-term credit rating of BBB +.
"The high rating is an important step for AST towards the capital market, especially in view of the large capital investment projects of the forthcoming move towards the synchronization of Baltic electricity networks with the networks of Europe. It will also increase the confidence of potential investors in the company. attracting funds from banks on more favourable terms," says Mr. Kaspars Āboliņš, Chairman of the Council of AST.
"Receiving of a credit rating is an important step for AST's development, we are pleased with the assessment received, which confirms that the current strategic goals, planned dynamic development, management improvement and digital transformation are the right direction for AST to take," said Mr. Varis Boks, Chairman of the Board of AST.
"Last year, AST took over the transmission network assets and the liabilities of the previous owner of the assets in the amount of EUR 202 million with short maturities, which is a significant liability burden. Given the permitted profitability, we have obtained a very good rating. We have developed a refinancing plan for existing liabilities, which envisages refinancing a loan of EUR 116 million by issuing the bonds. In 2020, AST also has become the majority shareholder of the unified natural gas transmission and storage operator JSC "Conexus Baltic Grid"," explains Mr. Boks.
The rating agency S&P in its report has emphasized the company's important role in the development of the electricity sector. AST's work in synchronizing the Baltic electricity networks with the European networks is important. The reorganization decisions taken by the State and the Public Utilities Commission and the changes made to the methodology, which comply with European standards, ensure more accurate and efficient operational planning and project implementation by AST. S&P is confident that AST will be able to refinance its existing liabilities and successfully complete the refinancing process.
Work on determining the credit rating began last year, when extensive information was prepared about the company's operations, future development and financial situation. The main purpose of this assessment is to make it possible for potential creditors and investors to understand the possibilities of timely repayment of the company's financial obligations.
A credit rating is an assessment of the creditworthiness of a company, region or country. The credit rating is based on the past and current financial history of market participants, as well as on the assessment of their assets and financial liabilities.
The rating agency is a long-term cooperation partner that monitors the company's main events, development and annually evaluates its financial stability. AST has chosen S&P as its partner for credit rating and follow-up via dedicated procurement process. S&P is one of the leading international credit rating agencies, determining the credit rating of Latvia at the international level also.
AST's good governance, responsible business practices and successfully implemented corporate governance principles are also highly valued, placing the company in the Rating of the TOP101 of the most valuable companies in Latvia, organized by Prudentia and Nasdaq Riga. This year, the company has entered the top of the rating for the first time, ranking 21st, but in the Assessment of the TOP101 of the company's open management aspects, AST ranks first. BBB + is an investment grade rating that characterizes high long-term operational stability.
In February last year, S&P raised Latvia's credit rating from “A” to “A +”, maintaining a stable outlook.