Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services announced that it has assigned its “BBB-” long-term and “A-3” short-term corporate credit ratings to Kuwait-based holding company Kuwait Projects Co. (Holding) K.S.C. (KIPCO) with a positive outlook.
S&P noted: “KIPCO has controlling stakes in Kuwaiti retail and commercial bank Burgan Bank, multiline insurance company Gulf Insurance Co. K.S.C. (GIC; BBBpi/—/—), offshore investment bank United Gulf Bank B.S.C., regional mobile telephony operator National Mobile Telecommunications Company K.S.C. (Wataniya), and regional satellite pay-TV platform Gulf DTH LDC (Showtime). At Sept. 30, 2005, KIPCO had about $755 million in gross on-balance-sheet debt.”
KIPCO is the first industrial Kuwaiti company to be rated by S&P. “The ratings primarily reflect KIPCO’s intermediate financial risk profile, business diversity, and satisfactory and improving liquidity,” explained S&P credit analyst Patrice Cochelin.
S&P also indicated that the “ratings are constrained by the concentration of the group’s profits in the Middle East, and its limited track record in selling large assets. The quality of the assets KIPCO controls is average.”
The rating agency said that the “positive outlook primarily reflects the potential for significant dividend increases at KIPCO’s core holdings, particularly in telecom and financial services, and the planned IPO of Showtime. KIPCO’s liquidity and diversity could be significantly boosted by the listing on the stock exchange of one more of its key controlled assets with solid growth potential.”
Cochelin indicated that the “ratings could be raised if prospects for dividends from telecom and financial services continue to markedly improve, and if the Showtime IPO is successful and proceeds are used in line with the company’s existing financial policies.”
However, S&P also noted that the “outlook could return to stable if the IPO process is delayed for reasons linked to Showtime’s operations, if the value of KIPCO’s listed holdings declines markedly, or if prospects for dividend increases significantly recede.”
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