1. Group background
Global Credit Ratings (“GCR”) can trace its origins back to 1996 when it was established as the African Arm of the New York Stock Exchange-listed Duff & Phelps. Very rapid growth followed and GCR has since established itself as the market leader, accounting for the majority of all ratings accorded on the African continent (in fact rating more African credits than S&P, Moody’s and Fitch combined). GCR’s African regional headquarters are based in Johannesburg, with its main SADC, West, and East African regional offices established in Harare, Lagos and Nairobi respectively.
Having firmly established a market leadership position in Africa, a major thrust has been to establish a similar position in other key emerging markets, encompassing South America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. This is expected to be achieved through acquisitions, alliances, and organic growth, and by drawing on the strengths of partner companies, who are typically leading players in their own domestic markets. GCR is also a founder member of Europe based ARC Ratings, which is registered with the European Securities and Markets Authority.
In support of GCR’s objective to establish itself as “a leading international emerging markets focussed rating agency”, one of the largest international Development Finance Institutions (“DEG”) acquired a significant stake in the business in December 2007, and further increased its shareholding in both 2012 and 2014. In addition, the Carlyle Group acquired a 49.9% stake in GCR towards the end of 2016. Carlyle is the pre-eminent Global Private Equity player, managing assets in the region of US$170 billion and who’s portfolio companies’ combined would rank it amongst the 10 most profitable corporations worldwide. The representation of DEG and the Carlyle Group gives significant weighting and credibility to our ratings in Africa, as well as future ratings activity across other key markets.
GCR accords both local currency National Scale ratings (which are typically tiered against an assumed “best possible” rating of AAA and enable appropriate differentiation of credit quality within each country), as well as International Scale ratings (which assess the capacity to meet commitments using a globally applicable scale, and as such are directly comparable across all countries).
GCR rates the full spectrum of security classes and its core competitive advantage is based on the principal of “analytical excellence”. GCR’s unrivalled track record for ratings accuracy is evidenced by a local currency National Scale cumulative investment grade default ratio of below 1.8% over the past 10 years, despite severe emerging market crisis and systemic shocks. It is important to appreciate the fact that emerging markets are fundamentally different to the developed markets in the US and Western Europe, which calls for a deeper appreciation of the unique characteristics of these markets. As a result of this, leading investors have placed ever-increasing reliance on GCR’s ratings and market research. Accordingly, GCR boasts a substantial subscriber base, encompassing several local and international issuing and investing institutions. Due to GCR’s entrenched position in key African markets and substantial scale economies, our rating and subscription fees are considerably lower than the competition.
GCR expects its universe of rated entities to continue to expand rapidly given the current growth trajectory of the African continent, underpinned by a tangible increase in interest in African business from investors across the globe. With its leading position in the African ratings environment, and extensive geographic network, GCR is in a unique position to offer both Issuers and Investors with unrivalled service and local expertise.
Comprehensive details of GCR’s products & services, organisational structure, regulatory recognition, staff complement, rating methodologies & processes, rating scales & definitions, policies and procedures, can be accessed on our website at www.globalratings.net
2. An overview of GCR’s organisational structure and regulatory recognition
GCR employs the largest team of rating analysts in Africa, split into four key rating units:
1) Financial Institutions: banks and non-bank financial institutions
2) Insurance: short term insurance, life insurance, reinsurance & healthcare
3) Corporate and Public Sector Debt: corporates & industrial borrowers; property funds; parastatals, utilities, state governments & local authorities
4) Structured Finance & Securitisation.
GCR’s ratings are based on best practice international methodologies, suitably tailored to account for unique local market conditions, and are regularly reviewed.
GCR’s core operating principals are:-
- Analysts concentrate on specific product categories (thus ensuring specialist expertise)
- Regional representatives concentrate on geographic areas (thus ensuring local knowledge and timely market information)
- All ratings are accorded by GCR’s rating panel and stringent checks and controls are implemented throughout the ratings process (thus ensuring quality and consistency)
In developed markets it is the norm for rating agencies to be “accredited” by the relevant market authority. Such accreditation is granted once the rating agency has demonstrated its technical competence and market acceptance. GCR is officially accredited in all markets in which it operates (where such accreditation is a requirement). In particular, GCR’s South African subsidiary is registered as a Credit Rating Services Provider by the Financial Services Board, Licence No: CRA001. Furthermore, GCR is recognised as an eligible External Credit Assessment Institution (in terms of regulation 51 of the Regulations relating to Banks) by the South African Reserve Bank.
3. Key benefits of a GCR rating
The role of a rating agency is to independently differentiate credit quality across all industry sectors and investment instruments, with the purpose of providing investors with a basis to guide appropriate investment and pricing decisions. Accordingly, a formal rating provides an independent and internationally recognised measurement of an organisation’s financial strength. A favourable rating can immediately result in an increased pool of investors, can facilitate direct access to capital markets and can ultimately result in reduced funding costs. Furthermore, the extensive distribution of the detailed rating report can prove to be a highly effective complement to an organisation’s own investor relations activities. This is particularly true in emerging markets were international coverage of companies may be limited or non-existent, enabling rated entities to take full advantage of the strong investor interest in emerging markets from across the globe. Finally, quite apart from the rating, the process provides a useful management tool insofar as it provides management with the benefit of a knowledgeable, independent, third party opinion on the organisation and its operations (including the results of an extensive “benchmarking” process across a wide range of financial, operational and control variables).
The core advantages of a GCR rating is based on the principals of “analytical excellence”, market penetration and distribution, while specific benefits include:
- The largest rating team in Africa, and on the ground presence in all key markets
- Senior management team boasts over 70 year’s cumulative ratings experience
- International methodologies adapted for local circumstances
- Highly competitive pricing
- Proven ratings accuracy and analytical excellence
- Market leadership in Africa
- Extensive coverage in leading local and international financial publications (note that GCR’s ratings are also available on all Bloomberg’s terminals worldwide)
- The largest investor subscriber base in Africa
The benefits of a rating are becoming more evident as capital markets across the African continent develop, and bond issuances increase, with increasing calls being made for these transactions to be rated.