Activist Investor Efforts Increasingly Lower Credit Ratings

Here’s an additional cause for finance chiefs to be wary of shareholder activist campaigns: increasingly, they guide to downgrades or other damaging credit score score actions, specially for organizations with currently weak credit score rankings.

To be apparent, most activist campaigns do not guide to changes in credit score rankings, credit score outlooks, or the inserting of the business on “credit look at.” But according to a report produced by S&P International Rankings on Wednesday, when campaigns do guide to rankings actions, the the greater part of the time those people actions are damaging. Twenty-one particular of the 26 score actions activated by trader campaigns in 2020 had been damaging, up from only seven 5 a long time in the past.

Activists targeted largely financial investment-grade organizations in 2020. But organizations in the “BBB” score categories, the tiers just over “junk,” saw the finest variety of score actions and downgrades.

Shareholder activist M&A or crack-up campaigns ongoing to be the premier contributor to score changes among nonfinancial and fiscal issuers, the company said, followed by campaigns focusing on funds constructions.

“The most typical route to a [score downgrade similar to M&A] was overleveraging in the course of a merger or a crack-up that adversely afflicted the company’s fiscal risk profile,” S&P explained.

For case in point, S&P reduced Tech Info into junk territory very last June just after Apollo Management’s takeover offer proposed issuing an extra $5.5 billion in financial debt. That “pushed the [company’s] professional forma adjusted leverage down below the preceding draw back trigger,” S&P explained. “Additionally, we be expecting[ed] the company’s fiscal guidelines to turn into much more aggressive under the new ownership.”

Activist-led funds structure changes are also typically credit score-damaging, S&P said, simply because activists typically desire much more shareholder-welcoming fiscal guidelines.

As an case in point, S&P pointed to an incident very last November when the minority shareholders of a French purchasing middle owner campaigned for rejecting a funds raise intended to lower total leverage. When the raise was voted down, S&P believed that the business would not be ready to keep its leverage ratios. S&P downgraded the business one particular notch.

Shareholder activism in Europe led to as lots of downgrades as it did in the U.S. in 2020. The rise in campaigns “was mostly driven by the even now expanding belief by huge U.S. activist investors that European corporates are ripe for M&A-driven value creation,” S&P explained.

activist shareholderscredit score, S&P