[MARC] MARC Ratings affirms AA-IS rating on QSP Semenanjung’s sukuk

MARC Ratings has affirmed its AA-IS rating on Quantum Solar Park (Semenanjung) Sdn Bhd’s (QSP Semenanjung) outstanding RM750.0 million Green Sustainable and Responsible Investment (SRI) Sukuk with a stable outlook. QSP Semenanjung owns three 50MW power plants located in Gurun, Kedah; Jasin, Melaka; and Merchang, Terengganu.

The rating affirmation reflects the good track record of energy generation at the plants. In keeping with the previous years’ performances, overall generation in 2023 exceeded P90 projections by 0.25%. Higher-than-projected generation at Jasin (+2.48%) and Merchang (+0.14%) during the year offset the lower output from Gurun (-1.75%) due to minor rectification works on a transformer at the plant and the resulting downtime.

The Merchang plant experienced a period of above-normal depth of flooding towards end-December 2023, causing minor damage to a few of its inverter stations. Preventive measures which include raising the mounting of the inverters are in place, while ongoing rectification work is expected to be completed by end-April 2024. The plant will still be able to operate at around 75% capacity during this period, and the financial impact in 2024 from revenue loss is estimated to be minimal at around RM1.3 million.

In line with the steady operational performance, QSP Semenanjung’s revenue of RM135.4 million in 2023 was as budgeted. Cash flow from operations stood at RM100.7 million. The company’s cash balances of RM163.6 million as at end-December 2023 are more than sufficient to meet its RM97.5 million sukuk principal repayment and profit payment due in April and October 2024.

Under base case projections — factoring in the revenue loss from the Merchang flood — QSP Semenanjung is expected to achieve minimum and average finance service coverage ratios (FSCR) of 1.87x and 2.30x. The projected cash flows can withstand moderate stress scenarios such as plant availability of 97.6%, a 10% increase in operations and maintenance cost or lower electricity generation under P99 estimates throughout the sukuk tenure.

The rating remains underpinned by the strength of QSP Semenanjung’s 21-year power purchase agreement with offtaker Tenaga Nasional Berhad (AAA/Stable). Under the agreement, the national power company will purchase energy generated by QSP Semenanjung’s plants at a fixed tariff rate, thereby mitigating the company’s exposure to demand risk. Significant variability in solar irradiance as well as operational performance issues stemming from unforeseen severe events/outages remain key risks to the company’s credit profile.

Neo Xue Wei, +603-2717 2937/ xuewei@marc.com.my
Siti Nursyahira Mat Rozi, +603-2717 2956/ nursyahira@marc.com.my
Sharidan Salleh, +603-2717 2954/ sharidan@marc.com.my