Fitch Ratings, one of the top three global credit rating agencies, has assigned Autonom Services SA a Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of ‘B+’. Autonom Services is the most extensive mobility network in Romania that in December 2019 listed EUR 20 million worth bonds on the Main Market of the Bucharest Stock Exchange.
“Following last year’s successful listing of AUT24E corporate bonds on the Bucharest Stock Exchange, we applied for a rating from Fitch, on the recommendation of our partners. Transparency and the desire to be an authentic business model were the elements that formed the basis of this decision. We are pleased about the publishing of today’s Fitch report. While B+ is a speculative grade, we consider it an important step for the investors who have participated in our corporate bonds’ placement and must be viewed in the context of the period and environment in which Autonom operates. We consider it an important step to show Romanian entrepreneurs that it is possible, that there are affordable financing alternatives, and it is a step that supports the professionalization of the Romanian capital market. Receiving a rating from a third-party agency can provide an independent look at our financials while ascertaining our promise as a company always to be transparent,” said Marius Stefan, co-shareholder of the Autonom International, a group of companies that includes Autonom Services.
Autonom is the first entrepreneurial company with corporate bonds listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange (BVB) to receive a rating from Fitch. Fitch notes that Autonom’s rating reflects the company’s small but growing franchise, adequate profitability, reasonable asset quality, experienced management team and a funding profile that is predominantly secured. The negative outlook added to the rating primarily reflects Fitch’s view on the potential impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Autonom’s asset quality and profitability. At the same time, the Fitch report recognized that at the business level, Autonom reacted swiftly to the Coronavirus crisis.
“We appreciate that Fitch noted how prompt Autonom had adapted its business model amidst the crisis generated by the coronavirus outbreak. We take the report prepared by the Fitch team as guidance on how to make Autonom business even more financially sound and resilient. At the same time, we maintain our optimism that in 2020 we will grow the business and we end the year with a profit despite the unfavourable market conditions,” said Dan Stefan, co-shareholder and of the Autonom International group.
The rating report was issued on June 3rd, 2020, and it notes the potential for an upgrade. Fitch notes the rating could be improved if Autonom increases business scale while maintaining the current sound profitability and adequate leverage, or if it further diversifies and extends its funding sources.
Fitch’s credit ratings relating to issuers are an opinion on the relative ability of an entity to meet financial commitments such as interest, repayment of principal, insurance claims or counterparty obligations. Apart from the issuer rating, Autonom has also applied for a rating on the corporate bonds that are listed on the Bucharest Stock Exchange. The corporate bonds issuance, which is tradable on the BVB’s Main Market under symbol AUT24E, received a separate, senior unsecured debt rating of ‘B-’.
Receiving the credit rating is part of a transparency strategy adapted by Autonom. By having the rating from a globally renowned rating agency, financial instruments issued by Autonom can now be addressed to a broader pool of local and international institutional investors. Autonom’s first corporate bonds placement was oversubscribed, having a balanced structure of bondholders, including both retail and institutional investors such as European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, open-end investment funds, banks, financial investment companies and local insurance companies.
In 2019, Autonom Services registered consolidated revenues of approximately RON 339 million, an increase of 35 percent compared to 2018, EBITDA of RON 132 million (+57 percent) and net profit of RON 17.5 million (+7 percent). Autonom Services SA consolidates performance of Autonom’s two major business lines – of operational leasing and short-term rental (rent-a-car).