Infrastructure News

Research: Rating Action: Moody’s upgrades Fortress Trnsp & Infrastructure’s corporate family and long-term senior unsecured ratings to Ba2 from Ba3; outlook is stable


New York, August 02, 2022 — Moody’s Investors Service (“Moody’s”)  upgraded to Ba2 from Ba3 Fortress Transportation & Infrastructure Investors LLC’s (FTAI) corporate family rating (CFR) and long-term senior unsecured rating. FTAI’s outlook is stable.

This rating action concludes the review for upgrade initiated on 3 May 2022 following FTAI’s announcement that its board of directors had approved a spin-off of FTAI’s infrastructure assets. On August 1, 2022, FTAI announced that the spin-off transaction had been completed and approximately $730 million of FTAI’s debt was paid-down [1].

Upgrades:

..Issuer: Fortress Trnsp & Infrastructure Investors LLC

…. Corporate Family Rating, Upgraded to Ba2 from Ba3

….Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Upgraded to Ba2 from Ba3

Outlook Actions:

..Issuer: Fortress Trnsp & Infrastructure Investors LLC

….Outlook, Changed To Stable From Ratings Under Review

RATINGS RATIONALE

Moody’s upgraded FTAI’s ratings based on its improved proforma debt-to-EBITDA leverage after the partial paydown of debt connected with the infrastructure assets’ spin-off, and because these infrastructure assets tend to generate more volatile results and are more capital intensive than FTAI’s continuing activities. FTAI’s Moody’s-adjusted proforma debt-to-EBITDA leverage significantly improves to approximately 7.0x from 11.2x (based on estimated trailing-12 months’ EBITDA of the continuing business activities through 30 June 2022) due to the partial debt paydown with the proceeds received from the spin-off transaction. The spun-out entity, FTAI Infrastructure Inc. (B2 stable), is now an independent publicly traded company. Moody’s expects that FTAI will achieve savings from corporate overhead reallocation to FTAI Infrastructure which will result in moderately stronger earnings. Additionally, Moody’s expects that FTAI’s leverage will further improve in the next 12 months, supported primarily by a further recovery in global air travel volumes and FTAI’s effective strategic execution.

Moody’s said that FTAI is well-positioned to benefit from the air travel recovery, supported by improving demand for the current generation of narrow-body aircraft, such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 family of aircraft, as well as the engines that power these models, with the latter being a focus of FTAI’s investment strategy in the sector. In the second quarter, the company has exhibited good momentum in improving its earnings profile, including from the sale of aftermarket products.  FTAI generated Moody’s-adjusted EBITDA of $95.5 million during this second quarter 2022, representing an approximately 40% increase from the first quarter. The company also had asset sale gains in the amount of $55 million. The company’s most recent investments and partnerships with Lockheed Martin Corporation (Lockheed Martin, A3 stable) and with AAR Corp. (NYSE: AIR), a global aerospace and defense aftermarket solutions company, continue to contribute to earnings expansion. FTAI’s good liquidity position is supported by the availability under its $250 million revolving facility and sufficient unencumbered assets, said Moody’s.

Moody’s said that corporate governance considerations were a key driver in FTAI’s upgrade, given the strategic decision that was made to exit more volatile and capital-intensive business activities, and to use the proceeds for debt reduction. More broadly, governance considerations remain highly relevant in assessing FTAI’s creditworthiness, given its mostly debt-financed growth strategy and propensity for at times to fund shareholder distributions using debt. Moody’s noted that a majority of FTAI’s debt is unsecured, providing the company with flexibility to access secured financing on aviation assets as a source of contingent liquidity. Additionally, FTAI has been able to expand its earnings capacity after acquiring assets, providing a means for reducing leverage over time.

The stable outlook reflects Moody’s expectation that FTAI will continue its growth trajectory while maintaining its EBITDA margin broadly in line with pre-COVID-19 levels.  The stable outlook also incorporates the risk associated with FTAI’s opportunistic asset acquisitions and periodic debt-financed dividends that can at times pressure its capital strength.

The Ba2 rating for FTAI’s senior unsecured notes are in line with FTAI’s Ba2 CFR, reflecting that the notes constitute the preponderance of the company’s debt. The company also has a $250 million revolving credit facility expiring in December 2024.

FACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO AN UPGRADE OR DOWNGRADE OF THE RATINGS

Moody’s could upgrade FTAI’s ratings if the company achieves and maintains profitability measured as the ratio of net income to average assets above 1% and strengthens its tangible equity to tangible assets ratio, while maintaining debt-to-EBITDA leverage of less than 4.5x, and demonstrates effective balancing of shareholder and debt holder interests in its financial policy decisions.

Moody’s could downgrade FTAI’s ratings if the company’s operating results deteriorate, its capital or liquidity profiles weaken as a result of debt-financed acquisitions or shareholder dividends, or if the company loses a material customer or suffers a business disruption that weakens its financial prospects.

Fortress Transportation & Infrastructure Investors LLC (FTAI) is now primarily an aircraft leasing company with total aviation assets of $2.1 billion as of 30 June 2022.  As of 1 August, 2022 FTAI has spun off its infrastructure assets (FTAI Infrastructure, Inc.).  FTAI is externally managed by FIG LLC, also a Fortress affiliate.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Finance Companies Methodology published in November 2019 and available at https://ratings.moodys.com/api/rmc-documents/65543. Alternatively, please see the Rating Methodologies page on https://ratings.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For further specification of Moody’s key rating assumptions and sensitivity analysis, see the sections Methodology Assumptions and Sensitivity to Assumptions in the disclosure form. Moody’s Rating Symbols and Definitions can be found on https://ratings.moodys.com/rating-definitions.

For ratings issued on a program, series, category/class of debt or security this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series, category/class of debt, security or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody’s rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the credit rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular credit rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider’s credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the issuer/deal page for the respective issuer on https://ratings.moodys.com.

For any affected securities or rated entities receiving direct credit support from the primary entity(ies) of this credit rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this credit rating action, the associated regulatory disclosures will be those of  the guarantor entity.  Exceptions to this approach exist for the following disclosures, if applicable to jurisdiction: Ancillary Services, Disclosure to rated entity, Disclosure from rated entity.

The ratings have been disclosed to the rated entity or its designated agent(s) and issued with no amendment resulting from that disclosure.

These ratings are solicited. Please refer to Moody’s Policy for Designating and Assigning Unsolicited Credit Ratings available on its website https://ratings.moodys.com.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

Moody’s general principles for assessing environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks in our credit analysis can be found at https://ratings.moodys.com/documents/PBC_1288235.

At least one ESG consideration was material to the credit rating action(s) announced and described above.

The Global Scale Credit Rating on this Credit Rating Announcement was issued by one of Moody’s affiliates outside the EU and is endorsed by Moody’s Deutschland GmbH, An der Welle 5, Frankfurt am Main 60322, Germany, in accordance with Art.4 paragraph 3 of the Regulation (EC) No 1060/2009 on Credit Rating Agencies. Further information on the EU endorsement status and on the Moody’s office that issued the credit rating is available on https://ratings.moodys.com.

The Global Scale Credit Rating on this Credit Rating Announcement was issued by one of Moody’s affiliates outside the UK and is endorsed by Moody’s Investors Service Limited, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5FA under the law applicable to credit rating agencies in the UK. Further information on the UK endorsement status and on the Moody’s office that issued the credit rating is available on https://ratings.moodys.com.

REFERENCES/CITATIONS

[1] Fortress Transportation & Infrastructure Investors LLC 8-K 1-Aug-2022 https://www.sec.gov/ix?doc=/Archives/edgar/data/0001590364/000114036122027698/brhc10040167_8k.htm

Please see https://ratings.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody’s legal entity that has issued the rating.

Please see the issuer/deal page on https://ratings.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Inna Bodeck
Vice President – Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody’s Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

Donald Robertson
Associate Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

Releasing Office:
Moody’s Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653



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