[RAM] RAM Ratings reaffirms ratings of AC First Genesis' Sukuk Ijarah backed by Aman Central Mall
RAM Ratings has reaffirmed the ratings (see table) of the Senior Class A and Senior Class B First Tranche Sukuk Ijarah (collectively, the Senior Sukuk) issued under AC First Genesis Berhad’s (the Issuer) RM3 billion Sukuk Ijarah Programme. The Senior Sukuk is backed by Aman Central Mall (the Mall/the Property), an eight-storey retail mall in Alor Setar, Kedah. The Issuer is a trust-owned special-purpose vehicle incorporated to facilitate the securitisation exercise under the programme.
The reaffirmation of the Senior Sukuk ratings is premised on the Mall’s resilient performance despite setbacks from movement restrictions in the past two years, as well as our sustainable cashflow assumption of RM41 mil per annum, which remains unchanged. Correspondingly, credit support for the transaction, as reflected by the LTV ratios and FSCRs, is still commensurate with the ratings.
For FY Dec 2021, the Mall registered a net property income (NPI) of RM33.6 mil or RM37.1 mil excluding impact of rental rebates (FY Dec 2020: RM31.9 mil or RM38.8 mil excluding rental rebates). We believe the Mall’s performance is still on track to gradually converging towards our expectations over the next two years despite the deferral of plans to lower operating expenses by installing solar panels and applying for a reduction in electricity tariff. Our view is based on potential rental upside from major asset enhancement initiatives (AEI) scheduled for 2022 and 2023, contracted step-up rental for renewed/new tenancies, and other cost saving measures that are expected to more than offset the impact of the delayed initiatives.
As at end-December 2021, Aman Central Mall’s occupancy rate fell to 79% (end-December 2020: 91%), mainly due to unrenewed tenancies. Among outgoing occupants was anchor tenant, Mydin, which accounted for 5% of total net lettable area (NLA) and about 3% of monthly rental. Rental rebates for 2021 amounted to a lower RM3.5 mil y-o-y (RM7 mil for 2020) – below the RM6 mil limit approved by the sukukholders in October 2021. Going forward, the management does not expect to provide any further rental rebates in view of the relaxation of Covid-19 curbs and full resumption of economic activities.
While the Mall’s near-term cashflow performance is expected to be affected by the RM15.5 mil of AEIs, our assessment indicates that it will still be sufficient to meet the transaction’s financial covenants. As the majority of new tenants are only expected to commence operations in 2H 2022, the Mall is expected to record a lower NPI for 2022 (excluding AEI expenses) compared to 2021 before rebounding over the next two years.
The Mall’s lease maturity profile remains lumpy although improving, exhibiting some tenant concentration risk. Tenancies for about 27% and 56% of occupied NLA will expire in 2022 and 2024, respectively. Lumpy maturities in 2024 are partly attributable to two anchor tenants – Parkson and Golden Screen Cinemas – which constitute 12% of rental income and 22% of total NLA. Of the tenancies expiring this year, leases for about 20% of NLA have been renewed while tenants for 54% of the space have indicated intention to renew. While tenancies for 17% of NLA are still being negotiated and leases for 9% of NLA have been terminated, we expect renewals or replacements to be manageable given the Mall’s competitive advantage and the absence of incoming supply of new shopping malls in the vicinity.
The transaction’s ultimate sponsor is Belleview Sdn Bhd (the Group), a niche property developer in the northern region with a track record dating back to 1984 which includes low-cost to high-end housing as well as commercial properties like shopping malls and office suites. Aman Central Mall was previously held via the Group’s wholly owned subsidiary, Great Realty Sdn Bhd, before being securitised under AC First Genesis’s sukuk programme in May 2021.
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Lim Chern Yit
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