France-Based Kerneos Corporate SAS Ratings Withdrawn On Acquisition By Imerys

Stocks and Financial Services Press Releases Thursday August 10, 2017 17:08
LONDON--10 Aug--S&P Global Ratings

LONDON (S&P Global Ratings) Aug. 10, 2017--S&P Global Ratings today said ithas raised its long-term corporate credit rating on France-based producer ofcalcium aluminate cements Kerneos Corporate SAS to 'BBB' from 'B+', andremoved the rating from CreditWatch with positive implications where it wasplaced on Dec. 15, 2016.

We then withdrew the rating at the issuer's request. The outlook was stable atthe time of the withdrawal.

At the same time, we withdrew our issue and recovery ratings on the group's€200 million 5.75% senior secured fixed-rate notes and €175 millionfloating-rate notes due 2021, because these notes have been repaid.

The upgrade follows the closing of the acquisition of Kerneos by mineralspecialties producer Imerys for €880 million from its previous private equityowner Astorg Partners SAS. We understand that Kerneos has been fullyoperationally merged with its new parent, and has been financiallyconsolidated in Imerys' accounts since July 18, 2017. We therefore see Kerneosas a core subsidiary of Imerys.

Following the acquisition, the €200 million and €175 million notes issued byKerneos were repaid, and we understand that in future all new financing willbe drawn at the Imerys level.

Our rating on Imerys reflects our view that the group's operationalperformance benefits from significant diversification and vertical integrationinto mining. This provides profitability resilience despite cyclicalend-market exposure. Moderate leverage and strong recurring free cash flowssupport the company's intermediate financial risk profile, although we expectthat the debt-funded acquisition of Kerneos will lead to a slightdeterioration in Imerys' metrics for 2017. Imerys' comfortable and predictablefree cash flows should help steer credit metrics at levels we view ascommensurate with the rating over the medium term. We forecast adjusted debtto EBITDA of about 2.5x and adjusted funds from operations to debt of around30%. For more details, see "Mineral Specialties Producer Imerys AcquiresKerneos; Group Assigned 'BBB' Rating; Outlook Stable," published on Dec. 14,2016 on RatingsDirect.

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