Fitch affirms NewRiver REIT’s investment grade credit ratings

LONDON, UK: Fitch Ratings has affirmed NewRiver REIT plc’s Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘BBB’ with a Stable Outlook, senior unsecured rating at ‘BBB+’ and Short-Term IDR at ‘F2’.

The senior unsecured rating applies to NewRiver’s £300 million unsecured bond dated 2028.

This rating follows a transformative FY22 for NewRiver’s unsecured balance sheet, which has included the disposal of the Hawthorn pub business, the repayment or cancellation of £335 million of bank facilities and the one-year extension of our undrawn Revolving Credit Facility (‘RCF’).

These actions mean that NewRiver’s Loan to Value (‘LTV’) is back within management guidance of under 40%, with 39.4% reported at 30 September 2021 (March 2021: 50.6%) which reduced to 38.0% on a pro-forma basis including the additional £16.8 million of retail disposals completed by 25 November when we reported our results for the six months ended 30 September 2021.

The significant debt repayment has also reduced annual finance costs by £7 million, improving earnings efficiency and covenant headroom. In addition, we are now in compliance with all five of our financial policies, with balance sheet gearing reduced to 65% and Net debt: EBITDA improved to 6.9x at 30 September 2021. The extension of our undrawn £125 million RCF to August 2024 increased our weighted average debt maturity to 5.2 years at 30 September 2021, with the earliest maturity on drawn debt in 2028.

Will Hobman, Chief Financial Officer commented: “We have worked hard since the start of the financial year to transform our balance sheet. Our actions mean that LTV is now back within management guidance, finance costs have been reduced, debt maturity has been extended and critically our balance sheet remains fully unsecured with substantial available liquidity. We are pleased that these achievements, combined with our strong operational performance and portfolio positioning, have resulted in the affirmation of our investment grade credit rating.”

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