October 11, 2016. Tbilisi, Georgia. Fitch Ratings, the leading international ratings agency, has assigned a ‘B+' rating (Foreign Currency Issuer Default Rating) and Stable Outlook on Silknet, the incumbent fixed-line telecoms operator in Georgia. SP Advisors, a full-service investment bank with operations throughout Eastern Europe, acted as the exclusive ratings advisor to Silknet.
Fitch's rating reflects the agency's positive outlook on Silknet's future: its ability to defend market positions, expected significant investments into new fibre infrastructure, key growth drivers, including broadband and pay-TV, and a cost optimization that will deliver an improvement of margins. The agency noted that any refinancing risk for Silknet is mitigated by moderate leverage levels, and Fitch expects leverage to remain stable going forward. Fitch also noted Silknet's successful refinancing of all its FX-denominated debt into local currency and strong market position as Georgia's incumbent fixed-line telecoms provider as key factors behind its strong rating and stable outlook.
"We are committed to establishing a strong corporate governance approach, and Fitch's rating is another step towards setting up an investor-friendly and responsible approach to business," said Baia Pshavlishvili, CFO of Silknet. "We are pleased with the B+ issuer rating and Stable Outlook, and we appreciate the positive working relationship with Fitch Ratings."
"On the business side, our future is bright: we will continue making significant investments that will re-shape the telecoms landscape in Georgia and we look forward to capitalizing on the country's relatively low broadband penetration rates. We aim to deliver strong, consistent, and responsible corporate growth and to building an attractive investment profile, including by improving on the credit issuer ratings from Fitch."
"We were very pleased to have the opportunity to work with one of the leading companies in Georgia as they gear up to take a more active role in attracting financing on capital markets and look forward to helping them in this process," added SP Advisors CEO Nick Piazza.
The rating by one of the "Big Three" ratings agencies will allow Silknet to attract new investment to help build the company's investment history as it continues on the path to corporate growth.
Silknet is the leading fixed-line telecommunications operator in Georgia. The company has the largest inter- and intra-city fiber-optics network in Georgia. As at 1H 2016, Silknet has approximately 40% market share in fixed broadband, 25% market share in pay TV and 45% market share in fixed telephony. The company is the leading provider of sports content with exclusive rights to English Premier League, Spanish La Liga, Bundesliga, NBA and other competitions.
About SP Advisors
SP Advisors is a full-service investment house with operations in Ukraine and Eastern Europe. Established in 2011, SP Advisors has assembled a veteran management and corporate advisory team with experience in the Eastern European investment space. Among other services, SP Advisors provides advisory services in corporate governance and investor relations to help companies grow.