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Fitch rates Senkadagala Finance's proposed senior debt at 'BBB+(lka)(EXP)'

Fitch Ratings has assigned Sri Lanka-based Senkadagala Finance PLC's (SFC; BBB+(lka)/Stable) proposed issue of senior unsecured redeemable listed debentures of up to Rs1bn an expected National Long-Term rating of 'BBB+(lka)(EXP)'. SFC will issue the debentures subject to receiving the necessary regulatory approvals. The final rating is contingent upon the receipt of final documentation conforming to information already received, including details regarding the amount and tenor.

The proposed debentures are rated at the same level as SFC's National Long-Term rating as they will constitute direct, unconditional, unsecured and unsubordinated obligations of the bank. The proposed debentures will be issued in two tranches with a maturity of three and four years, while coupon payments will be at fixed and floating rates.The notes do not contain any deferral clauses. SFC expects to use the proceeds to fund its ongoing lending activities and to help reduce maturity mismatches between its assets and liabilities. SFC's rating reflects its long operating history and sound credit profile through economic cycles, upported by credit controls, low refinancing risk and high profitability compared with domestic peers.

SFC's credit profile is constrained by its elevated financial risk, as reflected in lower capitalisation - measured by its Tier 1 capital adequacy ratio (CAR) and equity/assets ratio - during the financial year ended March 2012. Tier 1 CAR (after including retained profits) improved to an estimated 14.4% during 9MFY13 (FY12: 11.5%) as the rate of internal capital generation kept pace with asset growth. SFC relies to a large extent on secured borrowings to fund its lending activities, which has helped the company to reduce refinancing risk. However, over-reliance on secured borrowings can limit SFC's future financing flexibility to the extent of unencumbered assets on its balance sheet.

A continued weakening in SFC's capitalisation or financial flexibility as indicated by a further reduction of unencumbered assets relative to unsecured liabilities could lead to a downgrade.

An upgrade of SFC's rating is contingent upon the company strengthening its franchise and improving its capitalisation to levels commensurate with higher-rated peers, while maintaining satisfactory asset quality and profitability.

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