Activist Investor Efforts Increasingly Lower Credit Ratings

Here’s yet another cause for finance chiefs to be cautious of shareholder activist strategies: ever

Here’s yet another cause for finance chiefs to be cautious of shareholder activist strategies: ever more, they lead to downgrades or other damaging credit history score actions, specifically for companies with already weak credit history scores.

To be distinct, most activist strategies do not lead to changes in credit history scores, credit history outlooks, or the positioning of the enterprise on “credit look at.” But according to a report released by S&P International Rankings on Wednesday, when strategies do lead to scores actions, the the vast majority of the time these actions are damaging. 20-one particular of the 26 score actions brought on by trader strategies in 2020 were damaging, up from only seven 5 many years back.

Activists qualified primarily expense-grade companies in 2020. But companies in the “BBB” score groups, the tiers just earlier mentioned “junk,” saw the biggest variety of score actions and downgrades.

Shareholder activist M&A or break-up strategies continued to be the greatest contributor to score changes among the nonfinancial and economical issuers, the company stated, adopted by strategies focusing on funds buildings.

“The most regular route to a [score downgrade connected to M&A] was overleveraging through a merger or a break-up that adversely afflicted the company’s economical possibility profile,” S&P reported.

For illustration, S&P lowered Tech Knowledge into junk territory last June just after Apollo Management’s takeover offer proposed issuing an supplemental $five.five billion in credit card debt. That “pushed the [company’s] professional forma altered leverage down below the previous downside induce,” S&P reported. “Additionally, we assume[ed] the company’s economical procedures to turn into much more aggressive beneath the new possession.”

Activist-led funds framework changes are also often credit history-damaging, S&P stated, due to the fact activists often desire much more shareholder-welcoming economical procedures.

As an illustration, S&P pointed to an incident last November when the minority shareholders of a French buying middle owner campaigned for rejecting a funds improve meant to decreased general leverage. When the improve was voted down, S&P approximated that the enterprise would not be capable to retain its leverage ratios. S&P downgraded the enterprise one particular notch.

Shareholder activism in Europe led to as numerous downgrades as it did in the U.S. in 2020. The increase in strategies “was mainly pushed by the still growing belief by big U.S. activist investors that European corporates are ripe for M&A-pushed benefit creation,” S&P reported.

activist shareholderscredit score, S&P