Scope affirms European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s AAA rating with Stable Outlook
Scope Ratings GmbH (Scope) has today affirmed the EBRD’s AAA long-term issuer and senior unsecured foreign-currency ratings, along with a short-term issuer rating of S-1+ in foreign currency. All Outlooks are Stable.
For the detailed rating report, click here.
Summary and Outlook
The EBRD’s AAA rating reflects its ‘excellent’ intrinsic strength and ‘excellent’ shareholder support. The bank has a proven track record of excellent governance and a very strong mandate from its shareholders, being at the forefront of facilitating the transition to market and sustainable economies in its countries of operation. A potential EUR 3-5bn paid-in capital increase to support activities in Ukraine is under consideration.
The EBRD is highly capitalised and benefits from strong liquidity policies and conservative risk management practices. The bank’s paid-in capital ratio of 21% is one of the highest among peers, while sustained profits in its core business have built its reserves. The bank’s capital buffers of EUR 19.8bn fully absorb the 2022 loss of EUR 1.1bn, driven by the war in Ukraine. Prudent capital and liquidity management, along with excellent market access, are important mitigating factors for the EBRD’s comparatively risky business profile.
The bank’s focus on the private sector in transition and EMEs, mostly via loans and equity investments, results in higher NPLs and volatile returns compared to peers. NPLs rose to 7.8% as of Q1 2023 driven by the war in Ukraine, from 4.9% at end-2021. Still, at almost 60%, they are well provisioned for. The bank’s diversified portfolio across geographies, sectors and counterparties mitigates asset quality risk.
Finally, the EBRD benefits from a globally diversified, growing, highly rated shareholder base, with the G7 holding more than 50% of its capital. The bank’s highly rated shareholders include the United States (AA/Negative), Japan (A/Negative), the UK (AA/Stable) and all EU-27 member states with a weighted average rating of AA-. This drives Scope’s ‘excellent’ assessment of shareholder support. Further support comes from the EBRD’s high-quality callable capital (from shareholders rated AA- or higher) of about EUR 15bn, which currently covers around 40% of its outstanding mandated assets.
The Stable Outlook reflects Scope’s view that risks are balanced over the next 12 to 18 months. The ratings/Outlooks could be downgraded if, individually or collectively: i) the EBRD’s asset quality deteriorated materially, resulting in sustained losses; and/or ii) liquidity buffers were significantly reduced.
The first driver of the EBRD’s AAA rating is its very strong institutional profile.
This reflects the bank’s excellent governance and strong mandate for its shareholders, being at the forefront of facilitating the transition to market and greener economies in its countries of operation. The bank seeks to promote the emergence of a strong private sector through investments, policy reform and advisory projects in the nearly 40 countries it operates in across Europe, Asia and Africa.
The EBRD has played a critical role for its clients during the Covid-19 crisis via its ‘Solidarity Package’ centred around the Resilience Framework. Totalling EUR 4bn (up from the original EUR 1bn), the package provided clients with short-term liquidity, working capital and trade finance.
Moreover, since the invasion of Crimea in 2014 the bank has suspended all new lending to Russia and more recently, since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war, activities have also been suspended in Belarus. The bank committed an initial EUR 2bn resilience package for Ukraine and neighbouring countries and has committed to disburse up to EUR 3bn (including the initial EUR 2bn) over 2022-23 to support the functioning of Ukraine’s economy and businesses, though final disbursements may be lower.
Given its expertise, Scope expects the EBRD to play an important role financing the reconstruction of Ukraine over the coming years. While this will absorb significant resources of the bank, its capital adequacy policies and prudential limits, including on concentration risks per country, constrain the bank’s direct support to Ukraine. For this reason, reflecting the Board of Governors’ full commitment to support Ukraine, a proposal for a paid-in capital increase will be submitted for a final decision by the end of 2023.
Looking ahead, Scope also expects the EBRD to play a critical role in the transition of its countries of operation to a carbon-neutral, climate-resilient economy. Specifically, the bank has aligned all its processes and activities with the Paris Agreement and committed to increase the share of its annual investments classified as contributing to the Green Economy Transition (GET) initiative to at least 50% by 2025. As of end-2022, this share was already 50%, up from 29% in 2020, and in line with 2021 (51%).
The EBRD is advancing quickly and comprehensively to integrate climate risk into its risk management and governance frameworks, systematically assessing physical and transition risk for all new direct finance projects and advancing its climate stress-testing capacities using the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS)’s scenarios1. The EBRD uses three factors to assess its climate-related credit risks: i) time horizon; ii) industry sector; and iii) geography. While 47% of the EBRD’s portfolio is considered long-term, which could increase the bank’s exposure to climate risk, 49% of these exposures are to sovereign or sovereign-guaranteed borrowers. Moreover, 89% of the long-term segment is exposure to sectors deemed to have low or moderate carbon transition risk, while the majority of the medium-term exposures is in non-EU countries, where the low carbon transition is generally expected to occur over a longer timeframe.
The EBRD also examines its portfolio exposure for climate risk via a high-level sectoral heatmap. It indicates that as of 2021 about 20% (10%) of its exposures are in sectors assessed as having ‘high’ or ‘very high’ transition (physical) risks, although the bank’s sovereign exposure was not yet assessed for physical risks. Initial assessments at the counterparty level show that about 33% (20%) of the bank’s counterparties have ‘high’ or ‘very high’ carbon transition (physical) risks.
Notably, the EBRD’s coal-related exposure comprises around EUR 0.9bn at end-2022. Some 95% of this exposure is indirect, which means proceeds are used to finance projects related to energy-efficiency improvements, renewables and CO2 reduction. The bank’s EUR 49m of direct exposure to coal is legacy and expected to mature by 2025. Overall, these risk management measures significantly reduce the risk of financing projects with high transition and physical risks, supporting the EBRD’s role in mobilising private capital to achieve its environmental goals, underpinning Scope’s positive assessment of the EBRD’s institutional profile.
The second driver supporting the EBRD’s AAA rating is its very strong financial profile.
Scope’s assessment reflects the bank’s conservative capital framework and its track record of generating and retaining capital. Its capitalisation level relative to its outstanding assets is one of the highest among supranationals. Scope estimates the EBRD’s equity and reserves at around EUR 19.4bn as of end-2022. Its statutory leverage is limited to its subscribed capital, accumulated reserves and profit, i.e. roughly EUR 43bn. This results in a capitalisation ratio of about 45%, which is significantly above that of peers. In addition, Scope notes that the EBRD operates at an even higher actual capitalisation level of around 49%, based on total disbursed loans of about EUR 30bn (excluding provisions), guarantees (EUR 2.3bn) and share investments (EUR 4.9bn) as of end-2022. Similarly, the bank’s self-reported gearing ratio based on disbursed assets stood at 83%, up from 71% in 2015 but still well below its policy threshold of 92%. Its risk-based capital requirement ratio stood at 65%, down from 80% in 2015 and thus well below its policy threshold of 90%2.
The bank’s capitalisation is further underpinned by its ability to generate and retain profits. The bank has been profitable every year since 2010, except for 2014 and 2022. The war in Ukraine drove a revaluation of equities based in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, and a significant increase in stage 1 and 2 expected credit losses, resulting in a net loss of EUR 1.1bn for 2022. While this was the largest loss in the bank’s history, its capital base remains very high at EUR 19.8bn, also driven by Q1 2023 profits of EUR 278m, supported by strong underlying operating income across all business segments and a gradual impairment release on its loans. Moreover, while the bank’s return on equity is volatile, driven by valuation changes in its equity portfolio, the bank has demonstrated a continued ability to record strong, stable underlying profits over the past decade, supporting Scope’s excellent capitalisation assessment.
The EBRD’s excellent liquidity coverage and capital market access further strengthen its financial profile. Conservative liquidity management is driven by medium-term liquidity requirements for: i) net treasury liquid assets to cover at least 75% of the next two years’ projected net cash requirements; and ii) the bank to meet its obligations for at least 12 months under extreme stress. This prudent liquidity management results in a stable level of liquid assets, which Scope estimates at around EUR 29.7bn for YE 2022, slightly below the EUR 32.1bn figure for 2021. The estimate includes cash and cash equivalents (EUR 6.6bn), deposits (EUR 14.8bn) and highly rated debt securities (EUR 8.3bn)a. Conversely, liabilities maturing within a 12-month period amounted to EUR 13.8bn (2021: EUR 12.0bn), while gross disbursements to customers are estimated at around EUR 7.5bn for 2023 (EUR 8.8bn in 2022).
The resulting 140% liquidity coverage ratio for 2022 implies that all outstanding liabilities and all committed disbursements due within a year can be financed with available liquid assets almost 18 months without needing to access capital markets. This ratio is exceptionally strong, even compared to peers, and it has remained above 100% every year since 2017.
The EBRD’s AAA rating is further underpinned by its status as a global benchmark issuer, given its frequent issuances and its highly diversified funding strategy in terms of currencies and instruments. These provide the bank with a stable source of funding for its operations. Reflecting its appeal to global investors, the EBRD benefits from a broad and very diversified investor base led by investors in the EMEA region, followed by the Americas and Asia. Most of them are fund managers, pension and insurance funds, followed by bank treasuries and central banks. In addition, the EBRD is a leading supranational green and social bond issuer that has raised a cumulative EUR 8.8bn in green and social bonds since 2010, tapping into a growing ESG investor base. Further reflecting its agency and ability to develop capital markets, the EBRD provides local currency financing to clients. As of Q1 2023, about 20% of its outstanding debt before swaps was in emerging market currencies with the largest shares in Turkish lira (4.2% of total) and Kazakh tenge (3.6%)3.
The third driver of the EBRD’s AAA rating is its excellent shareholder support.
Its highly rated shareholders include the United States (AA/Negative), Japan (A/Negative), the UK (AA/Stable) and all EU-27 member states with a weighted average rating of AA-. This is one of the highest key shareholder ratings among supranationals, which drives Scope’s assessment of EBRD shareholders’ ability to provide support if ever needed. This is further supported by the EBRD’s high-quality callable capital (shareholders rated AA- or higher) of around EUR 15bn, covering 40% of outstanding assets.
Despite these credit strengths, the EBRD also faces the following credit challenges:
The EBRD’s ‘adequate’ asset quality and comparatively higher NPLs reflect its relatively risky business profile, driven by its focus on private sector lending and equity investments in transition economies that are usually rated non-investment grade. As of end-2022, the bank’s total signed loan portfolio and guarantees increased to about EUR 46.9bn from EUR 44.1bn in 2021, markedly above the EUR 25bn in 2010. Of this, about 33% relates to sovereigns (up from 20% in 2011), about 21% relates to banks and 46% to corporates. In terms of geography, the EBRD’s exposures in Turkey (B-/Negative), Egypt (B/Negative) and Ukraine (CC/Negative) comprise about one third of the total since 2017. For this reason, only 13% of the bank’s exposures are assessed as investment-grade. Scope estimates the bank’s weighted average portfolio quality at around ‘b’, lower than most of its highly rated peers.
In addition, Scope notes that the EBRD’s non-performing loans increased to around 7.8% of the portfolio (about EUR 2.3bn) in Q1 2023, up from 4.9% as of end-2021 (EUR 1.5bn) on account of the war in Ukraine. This is above the bank’s five-year average of about 6.0% and that of most of its peers. The majority of the EBRD's outstanding exposure in Russia (EUR 0.2bn), Belarus (EUR 0.4bn) and Ukraine (EUR 2.1bn) has been moved onto the watchlist and Stage 2, thus requiring provisioning. Turkey (B-/Negative) also remains an important challenge for the EBRD’s credit quality, comprising 20% of NPLs, after Ukraine (42%), and followed by Belarus (9%), and Lebanon (5%). Looking ahead, Scope expects the NPL ratio to remain high but broadly stable in coming quarters, depending on developments in Ukraine, Turkey and Egypt. Still, if the full Ukraine portfolio were to become non-performing, which is not Scope’s baseline, the NPL ratio would likely exceed 10%. However, Scope notes positively that the provision level for exposures in stage 3 remains high at about 60% as of end-2022.
Finally, the EBRD’s equity investments of about EUR 4.7bn as of Q1 2023 constitute around 24% of available capital. This ratio has declined over recent years given the build-up of retained earnings over the past few years. At the same time, these exposures result in volatile earnings given valuation changes. Still, the EBRD’s asset quality risks are mitigated by its preferred creditor status for sovereign exposures and its well-diversified portfolio across regions, sectors and individual counterparties – with the top 10 nominal exposures amounting to only 18% of the portfolio.
Factoring of environment, social and governance (ESG)
Scope considers ESG sustainability issues during the rating process as reflected in its supranational methodology. ESG factors are explicitly captured in Scope’s assessment of the institutional profile, which Scope assesses as ‘very strong’ for the EBRD.
Scope’s supranational scorecard
Scope’s supranational scorecard, which is based on clearly defined quantitative parameters, provides an indicative AAA rating for the EBRD. Additional considerations allow Scope to incorporate idiosyncratic characteristics that cannot be assessed in a consistent and comprehensive manner across all supranationals, but which may still affect the creditworthiness of the issuer.
No adjustment was made to the indicative rating of the EBRD.
A rating committee has discussed and confirmed these results.
For further details, please see Appendix II of the rating report.
a. This estimate includes debt securities with an EBRD internal rating of ‘excellent’ or ‘very strong’, which corresponds to ratings above the AA- threshold of Scope’s methodology.
The main points discussed were: i) institutional profile; ii) financial profile, including capitalisation, asset quality, liquidity and funding; iii) shareholder support; iv) additional considerations; and viii) consideration of peers.
Rating driver references
1. Task force on climate-related financial disclosures, 2021
2. Financial report, 2022
3. Investor presentation, June 2023
The methodology used for these Credit Ratings and Outlooks, (Supranational Rating Methodology, 11 August 2022) is available on https://scoperatings.com/governance-and-policies/rating-governance/methodologies.
Information on the meaning of each Credit Rating category, including definitions of default, recoveries, Outlooks and Under Review, can be viewed in ‘Rating Definitions – Credit Ratings, Ancillary and Other Services’, published on https://www.scoperatings.com/governance-and-policies/rating-governance/definitions-and-scales. Historical default rates of the entities rated by Scope Ratings can be viewed in the Credit Rating performance report at https://scoperatings.com/governance-and-policies/regulatory/eu-regulation. Also refer to the central platform (CEREP) of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA): http://cerep.esma.europa.eu/cerep-web/statistics/defaults.xhtml. A comprehensive clarification of Scope Ratings’ definitions of default and Credit Rating notations can be found at https://www.scoperatings.com/governance-and-policies/rating-governance/definitions-and-scales. Guidance and information on how environmental, social or governance factors (ESG factors) are incorporated into the Credit Rating can be found in the respective sections of the methodologies or guidance documents provided on https://scoperatings.com/governance-and-policies/rating-governance/methodologies.
The Outlook indicates the most likely direction of the Credit Ratings if the Credit Ratings were to change within the next 12 to 18 months.
Solicitation, key sources and quality of information
The Credit Ratings were not requested by the Rated Entity or its Related Third Parties. The Credit Rating process was conducted:
With Rated Entity or Related Third Party Participation YES
With access to internal documents NO
With access to management NO
The following substantially material sources of information were used to prepare the Credit Ratings: public domain, the Rated Entity.
Scope Ratings considers the quality of information available to Scope Ratings on the Rated Entity or instrument to be satisfactory. The information and data supporting these Credit Ratings originate from sources Scope Ratings considers to be reliable and accurate. Scope Ratings does not, however, independently verify the reliability and accuracy of the information and data.
Prior to the issuance of the Credit Rating action, the Rated Entity was given the opportunity to review the Credit Ratings and Outlooks and the principal grounds on which the Credit Ratings and Outlooks are based. Following that review, the Credit Ratings were not amended before being issued.
These Credit Ratings and Outlooks are issued by Scope Ratings GmbH, Lennéstraße 5, D-10785 Berlin, Tel +49 30 27891-0. The Credit Ratings and Outlooks are UK-endorsed.
Lead analyst: Alvise Lennkh-Yunus, Executive Director
Person responsible for approval of the Credit Ratings: Giacomo Barisone, Managing Director
The Credit Ratings/Outlooks were first released by Scope Ratings on 10 July 2020. The Credit Ratings/Outlooks were last updated on 14 October 2022.
See www.scoperatings.com under Governance & Policies/Regulatory for a list of potential conflicts of interest disclosures related to the issuance of Credit Ratings.
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