Moody’s assigns debut rating to Abu Dhabi’s ADQ

23 June, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Moody’s assigns debut rating to Abu Dhabi’s ADQ

DUBAI: Moody’s Investors Service assigned its third-highest investment grade rating to Abu Dhabi’s state holding company, ADQ, the same level given to the Abu Dhabi government.

ADQ, which ranks as the emirate’s third-largest fund after Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and Mubadala, was rated “Aa2” with a stable outlook by Moody’s, report agencies.

“The Aa2 issuer rating and stable outlook are aligned with those of the government of Abu Dhabi because we believe ADQ is intrinsically linked to the government of Abu Dhabi by virtue of being a wholly owned entity and a vehicle of public policy,” said senior analyst Julien Haddad on Monday.

ADQ, previously known as Abu Dhabi Development Holding, was set up by the emirate’s government in 2018 to handle stakes in companies with domestic operations.

The entity owns a broad portfolio of businesses, including the companies that operate Abu Dhabi Ports, Abu Dhabi Airport, the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange and major industrial assets such as Emirates Steel.

ADQ holds direct and indirect stakes in more than 90 companies both globally and nationally. A number of these have either entered into, or have proposed, merger deals over the past 18 months to help build national champions – in many cases bringing larger combined entities on to public markets.

These have included the combination of Abu Dhabi National Energy Company, Taqa, with Abu Dhabi National Power Corporation, National Marine Dredging Company’s tie-up with National Petroleum Contracting Company, Agthia’s takeover of dates company Al Foah and recently announced proposals to merge Emirates Steel with Arkan Building Materials and Abu Dhabi National Hotels with Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre.

Unlisted Abu Dhabi Ports also took over The Higher Corporation for Specialised Economic Zones, better known as Zones Corp, last year.

ADQ “consolidates some of Abu Dhabi’s national champions” and is one of the primary public vehicles to carry out the government’s vision to reduce the local economy’s reliance on oil revenue and create jobs for Emiratis, the rating agency said.

Its credit quality benefits from its large scale, strong liquidity and “investments in assets with a market leading position” in the emirate, the ratings agency said.

“Liquidity at the holding company level is bolstered by dividends received from ADQ’s operating subsidiaries and investments, with Taqa being the main dividend contributor to the group in 2020,” the rating agency said.

ADQ’s stable outlook is aligned to that of the Abu Dhabi government, given the “strong credit links between the two”, Moody’s said.