Fitch affirms ADNOC standalone credit rating ‘AA+’
On high production, huge reserves
Fitch affirms AA+
Fitch Ratings (Fitch) has affirmed ADNOC Group a standalone credit rating of AA+. According to Fitch, the rating reflects ADNOC’s high upstream production and vast oil reserves, meagre cost of production, integration into downstream operations, very conservative financial policies, high financial flexibility and low leverage, and its strong unit profitability.
In line with its Government-Related Entities (GRE) Rating Criteria and Parent and Subsidiary Linkage (PSL) Rating Criteria, Fitch also affirmed a Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of AA with a Stable Outlook to ADNOC, in line with the sovereign rating of Abu Dhabi, reflecting Fitch’s view of the strong links between ADNOC and the Abu Dhabi government.
Both the standalone and Long-Term IDR rating remain the highest ratings currently assigned by Fitch for any oil and gas company, globally.
ADNOC’s successful strategy
Fitch also commended ADNOC’s successful strategy of bringing in minority partners into its operating companies to attract funding pools and improve access to international markets. Notably, the rating agency highlighted the fact that ADNOC raised $15.9 billion through a series of large-scale energy infrastructure transactions during 2020, led by a groundbreaking $20.7 billion transaction in select gas pipeline infrastructure assets with a consortium of leading global institutional investors, infrastructure operators and sovereign wealth and pension funds. This deal alone unlocked $10.1 billion in foreign direct investment into the UAE.
Fitch stressed that ADNOC’s profitability is in line with that of international oil majors and exceeds that of some leading national oil companies, given the company’s low production costs, oil-heavy production profile and competitive tax regime.
Commenting on the credit rating affirmation, Jassem Mohammed Buatabh Al Zaabi, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Finance, said: “The affirmation of ADNOC’s standalone and Long-Term IDR ratings by Fitch is a testament to Abu Dhabi’s wise leadership and the efforts undertaken by ADNOC’s senior leadership to navigate the company through the recent challenging period successfully. ADNOC is now the highest-rated entity in the GCC, the highest-rated energy company in the world and one of the highest-rated corporates globally.”
Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Group Chief Financial Officer at ADNOC, said: “We are honoured that our efforts over the past year to adapt to unprecedented market conditions have been recognized by Fitch, one of the leading, global credit rating agencies. Retaining our best-in-sector ratings globally, accurately reflects ADNOC’s world-class resource base, our strong operating and financial performance, our robust and conservative financial profile and our disciplined investment model.” “These ratings validate the bold ambitions ADNOC has set itself under our progressive and sustainable 2030 growth strategy, underpinned by the recent announcement of an ambitious five-year spending plan for 2021-2025 approved in November 2020 by the Supreme Petroleum Council.”
ADNOC’s 2030 smart growth strategy
The rating affirmation supports ADNOC’s 2030 smart growth strategy, founded on an unwavering commercial focus and performance-led culture. Since announcing the expansion of its partnership and investment model and the more proactive value management of its assets and capital in 2017,
ADNOC has entered the debt capital markets for the first time, issuing a $3 billion bond backed by the Abu Dhabi Crude Oil Pipeline; partially floated ADNOC Distribution, the first-ever IPO of an ADNOC Group company; opened-up its concessions to new strategic partners; competitively tendered new exploration blocks for the first time in Abu Dhabi’s history; launched the UAE’s unconventional industry; embarked on an ambitious sustainable and economical gas strategy; and entered into several strategic investment partnerships in its drilling, refining, fertilizer and trading businesses, amongst others.
ADNOC also recently closed innovative investment partnerships with leading global institutional investors and operators in both its oil and gas pipelines and non-oil and gas strategic infrastructure. ADNOC’s 2030 Strategy is built on the strategic foundation’s People, Performance, Profitability and Efficiency.
These remain the common principles through which all strategic decisions at ADNOC and its group of companies are taken.–WAM