• Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Fitch reaffirms Long-Term Issuer Default Rating for Afreximbank at ‘BBB’, with Stable Outlook

Fitch maintains Afreximbank’s ‘BBB’ long-term issuer default rating, outlook stable

Fitch Ratings has affirmed the Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) for African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) at ‘BBB’, with a Stable Outlook. The agency also affirmed the Bank’s Short-Term IDR at ‘F2’ and the long-term ratings on the Bank’s Global Medium Term Note Programme and Debt Issuances at ‘BBB’.

The ratings affirmation recognises Afreximbank’s strong profile and increasing systemic relevance to the African continent as evidenced by the increasing number of key mandates placed on the Bank by the African Union (AU), including the implementation of the health response to the COVID-19 pandemic and, recently, the support for access to grains and fertilisers in the context of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Read also: Afreximbank commits $2bn facility to support Africa’s health product manufacturing

Fitch also acknowledged the Bank’s strong capitalisation and liquidity position evidenced by its ‘excellent’ internal capital generation where the Bank was benefiting from ongoing shareholder support through the AU-initiated General Capital Increase (GCI) under the Bank’s current Strategic Plan (Plan VI), through which the Bank aims to raise US$2.6 billion in paid-in capital. Cumulatively, the Bank has mobilized a gross paid-in equity of US$2.1 billion since the GCI was launched in August 2021.

Consequently, Fitch noted that Afreximbank had a strong liquidity profile, with its share of quality treasury assets rated ‘AA’ to ‘AAA” (53 per cent in 2023) remaining substantially above the ‘strong’ threshold of 40 per cent. The liquidity profile is further enhanced by its access to capital markets and other alternative liquidity sources even during challenging times.

Afreximbank has continuously demonstrated its ability to de-risk its lending portfolio, with a low concentration risk and a high degree of loan collateralisation (85 per cent of total loans in 2023, including provisions), with cash collaterals covering 20 per cent of the loans, and 8 per cent covered by credit insurance from ‘A’ to ‘AA’-rated insurers. Fitch assessed the Bank’s risk management policies as ‘moderate’ and primarily reflected “the Bank’s use of credit risk mitigants that have helped maintain a relatively low non-performing loan ratio, despite the high-risk environment that the bank operates in”.

Reacting to the reaffirmation of the Bank’s rating, Denys Denya, Afreximbank Group Senior Executive Vice President, said that it was pleasing to note that Fitch rates the Bank “a-” on a standalone basis, before notching two levels down due to operating environment; which is a strong testament to the Bank’s systemic relevance to Africa and a recognition of its strong delivery of its developmental mandate, its prudent risk management practices and its relentless focus on capital and liquidity which had culminated in robust financial performance.

Read also: First Bank secures $200m facility from Afreximbank for manufacturing customers, others

“The Bank and its subsidiaries continue to play a pivotal role in facilitating trade and investment across its Member States,” said Mr. Denya. “Together with the robust relationships it enjoys, the Bank has become integral to the achievement of the AU’s key strategic economic programmes and initiatives on the continent and in the Diaspora, including the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) and the management of the AfCFTA Adjustment Fund.”

He further noted that, in executing its countercyclical role, Afreximbank continues to be nimble and resourceful in its support to Member States to enable them to mitigate the vagaries of a persistently challenging operating environment, such as the 2015 commodity price crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ukraine-Russia crisis and the current African debt crisis. The Bank is grateful for the support of the AU and its member countries in its capital and deposit mobilisation drive.