CHICAGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Fitch Ratings has assigned a 'BBB+' Long-term Rating to Petroleos Mexicanos' (Pemex) CHF600 million sr. unsecured debt issuance. The company expects to use the proceeds from the issuances to finance its capital investments. The debt issuances are guaranteed by Pemex Exploracion y Produccion; Pemex Cogeneracion y Servicios; Pemex Perforacion y Servicios; Pemex Logistica; Pemex Transformacion Industrial and their respective successors.
KEY RATING DRIVERS
Pemex's ratings reflect its close linkage to the government of Mexico and the company's fiscal importance to the sovereign. Pemex's ratings also reflect the company's solid pretax income, national and export-oriented profile, sizable hydrocarbon reserves and its strong domestic market position. The ratings are constrained by Pemex's significant unfunded pension liabilities, substantial tax burden, large capital investment requirements, negative equity and exposure to political interference risk.
Strong Linkage to the Government
Pemex is the nation's largest company and one of the Mexican central government's major sources of funds. During the past five years, Pemex's transfers to the government have averaged 52.6% of sales, or 110.6% of operating income. These contributions, through royalties, exploitation, taxes and production duties have averaged 30% to 40% of government revenues. As a result, Pemex's balance sheet has weakened, which is illustrated by its negative equity balance sheet account since the end of 2009. Despite pari passu treatment with sovereign debt in the past, Pemex's debt currently lacks an explicit guarantee from the government.
Oil Production Decline Stemmed
Currently at approximately 2.3 million barrels per day (bb/d), crude oil production has continued to marginally decline in recent years, although not at the same speed as it did during a precipitous fall in 2008 - 2009. Natural gas production excluding nitrogen has been relatively stable during recent years at approximately 5.8 billion cubic feet per day (bcf/d). Pemex has been able to stem production decline through more intensive use of technology in the Cantarell field, improvements in operations, and increased production from a diversified number of fields.
The diversification of the oil production asset base, with Cantarell representing less than 20% of oil production, reduces the risk of large production declines in the future. The company's goal is to increase total crude production to three million bpd in the medium to long term, which likely will prove challenging as the company's capital spending capacity is constrained by a high tax burden, pension obligations and the currently lower oil price environment.
Energy Reform; Long-Term Positive for Pemex
Although Pemex's credit ratings will continue to be highly linked to those of the sovereign, the reform would likely give the company financial flexibility through budgetary independence. Before the implementation of the energy reform, the company budgetary approval process from congress, coupled with high tax burden, hindered the company's investment flexibility. Also, the company would benefit by being able to partner with oil and gas companies in order to share exploration risk.
The overall impact on the reform for Pemex will be positive but gradual and the company will continue to face heavy tax burden in the medium term. The energy reform would also benefit the company's capital structure after the recently announced restructuring of Pemex's high pension liability, which currently impacts its financial profile as pension obligations amounted to approximately USD90.5 billion at the end of September 2015.
Negative Free Cash Flow Due to Capex
Fitch expects the company to present negative free cash flow (FCF) over the foreseeable future, considering Fitch's price deck, as it continues to implement sizable capital investments to sustain and potentially increase current production volumes as well as continue of high tax burden. The company's historical significant tax burden has limited its access to internally generated funds, forcing a growing reliance on external borrowings. For the 12-month period ending Sept. 30, 2015, Pemex's funds from operations, calculated by Fitch, were approximately negative USD2.0 billion and net operating cash flow was close to zero, which compared with cash capital expenditures of USD14.7 billion, resulting in negative FCF of USD14.8 billion.
Adequate Pre-Tax Credit Metrics
As of Sept. 30, 2015, Pemex's latest-12-months (LTM) EBITDA (operating income plus depreciation plus other income) was approximately USD25.8 billion. Leverage as measured by total debt-to-EBITDA was 3.4x. Pemex cash flow metrics are weak due to the company's high cash transfers to the government in the form of taxes and production duties. As of Sept. 30, 2015, total debt was USD87.3 billion.
Fitch's key assumptions within our ratings case for the issuer include:
--WTI crude prices average USD50 per bbl in 2015, increasing to USD65 per bbl by 2018 and USD70 per bbl in the long term.
--The company continues to face difficulties increasing its production over the next four year.
--Transfers to central government continue high at approximately 100% of pre-tax income over the long term.
An upgrade of Pemex could result from an upgrade of the sovereign coupled with a continued strong operating and financial performance and/or a material reduction in Pemex's tax burden. Negative rating action could be triggered by a downgrade of the sovereign's rating, the perception of a lower degree of linkage between Pemex and the sovereign, and/or a substantial deterioration in Pemex's credit metrics.
Pemex has adequate liquidity of USD6.5 billion as of Sept. 30, 2015. The company has committed revolving credit lines for USD4.5 billion and MXN23.5 billion; as of Sept. 30, 2015 USD130 million were available. The company's debt is well structured, with manageable short-term debt maturities. The company's liquidity is further bolstered by its robust pre-tax cash flow generation supportive by its competitive operational cost structure. Fitch estimates Pemex's operating cash cost to be less than USD23 per barrel of oil equivalent, including interest costs and full allocation of administrative expenses to the upstream business.
FULL LIST OF RATING ACTIONS
Fitch currently rates Pemex as follows:
--Long-term IDR 'BBB+'; Outlook Stable;
--Local currency long-term IDR 'A-'; Outlook Stable;
--National long-term rating 'AAA(mex)'; Outlook Stable;
--National short-term rating 'F1+(mex)';
--Notes outstanding in foreign currency 'BBB+';
--Notes outstanding in local currency 'A-';
--National scale debt issuances 'AAA(mex)';
--Short-term Certificados Bursatiles Program 'F1+(mex)'.
Date of Relevant Rating Committee: May 6, 2015.
Additional information is available on www.fitchratings.com.
Corporate Rating Methodology - Including Short-Term Ratings and Parent and Subsidiary Linkage (pub. 17 Aug 2015)