Money & Banking

S&P upgrades Manappuram Finance’s credit rating to ‘BB-’

Our Bureau Mumbai | Updated on October 26, 2021

Sees it outperforming NBFC peers with strong capitalisation and lower credit costs

S&P Global Ratings has upgraded its long-term issuer credit rating for Manappuram Finance Ltd to ‘BB-’ from ‘B+’ as it expects the company to perform better than its non-banking finance company (NBFC) peers over the next 12 months.

This would be reflected in the company’s lower credit costs, above-average profitability, and strong capitalisation, the credit rating agency said in a statement.

S&P said the outlook is stable, reflecting its view that the company will largely maintain its financial profile over the next 12 months, supported by improved economic conditions in India.

The agency also affirmed the ‘B’ short-term issuer credit rating for the NBFC.

“Manappuram’s gold-based lending model with a three-month tenor allows it to recognise asset quality stress early,” the agency said.

S&P underscored that it could downgrade Manappuram if the company’s credit costs increase substantially, particularly in microfinance loans.

“We see limited rating upside for Manappuram over the next 12 months. We would upgrade the company if we believe its funding profile has become more stable,” it said.

Gold auctions

S&P observed that gold prices had fallen significantly till April 2021, from a peak in August 2020.

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“The stress in the economy owing to the second wave of Covid-19 infections during April-June 2021 and the decline in gold prices led to increased auctions of higher loan-to-value (LTV) loans in the first quarter of fiscal 2022 (ending March 31, 2022).

“The company’s gold auctions are likely to gradually return to their normal level as economic conditions improve,” S&P said.

The rise in auctions have, in part, lowered Manappuram’s average LTV ratio to about 65 per cent as of June 30, 2021, from about 71 per cent as of end-March 2021, providing the company some buffer to absorb price fluctuations, S&P said.

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The agency observed that gold price movements play an important role in the cushion available to lenders like Manappuram, which is predominantly in the collateral-based gold lending business.

Gold loans account for close to 70 per cent of the company’s total loans, with microfinance loans accounting for about 25 per cent, and vehicle finance and affordable housing contributing much of the rest.

Non-gold portfolio

S&P noted that stress will likely remain high in Manappuram’s non-gold portfolio, especially in the microfinance business.

“The asset quality of the non-gold loan portfolio has deteriorated sharply over the past two years.

“However, billing and collection efficiency are increasing close to pre-Covid-19 levels, hinting at improving asset quality trends,” the agency said.

Also, the company has pre-provisioned for the microfinance business. Therefore, S&P believes any residual impact can be largely absorbed by the company’s earnings.

The agency has forecast that Manappuram’s risk-adjusted capital ratio will stay above 30 per cent over the next 12 months.

“The company’s core earnings are likely to remain at more than 5 per cent of its average managed assets during this period. This ratio is one of the highest among rated peers.

“Manappuram’s funding profile is also improving with a shift toward longer tenor debt. However, the company still has material exposure to short-term wholesale funding,” S&P said.

Published on October 26, 2021

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