Fitch affirms bupa finance plc at a , stable outlook

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(The following statement was released by the rating agency) LONDON, July 08 (Fitch) Fitch Ratings has affirmed UK-based health insurance and health care company Bupa Finance plc's (BF) Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) and senior unsecured rating at 'A-' and Short-term IDR at 'F2'. The fixed-term subordinated notes have been affirmed at 'BBB'. The Outlook is Stable. The rating action reflects BF's ability to operate successfully in current challenging market conditions and Fitch's estimate that the company has maintained some leverage headroom at its 'A-' rating despite the acquisition spending it has conducted in 2013. KEY RATING DRIVERS Sales and EBITDAR Driven by Growing Business In 2012 BF showed healthy yoy sales growth of 4%, mainly driven by its Australian, Spanish and international private medical insurance (PMI) operations. Group adjusted EBITDAR was up 19% to GBP873m (2011: GBP734m) and the Fitch adjusted EBITDAR margin (adjusted for restricted cash flow and interest income) was 10.4% in 2012 (up from 9.2% in 2011). These improvements on a consolidated level occurred despite the UK operations were affected by a challenging operating environment. Solid Debt Protection Measures to Remain Debt protection measures remained flat in 2012 compared to 2011's levels. However, BF has completed several acquisitions in 2013. These include Lux Med Group for GBP325.5m (April 2013), the Aged Care operations of Innovative Care Ltd in Australia (February 2013) and Dental Corporation for GBP244m (May 2013). The increased debt related to the acquisitions is expected to lead to an increase in FFO adjusted net leverage (adjusted for restricted cash flow, restricted cash, interest income for return seeking assets) to about 1.8x in 2013, up from 0.7x in 2012. Fitch also expects the FFO fixed charge cover ratio (adjusted for restricted cash flow and interest income for return seeking assets) to decline to about 4.6x in 2013 (FY12: 7.0x) as a result of these acquisitions. However, despite the acquisition-related rise in leverage, BF will still have some headroom within its current ratings. Strong Market Positions BF's ratings are supported by its strong market positions in its core PMI markets of the UK, Australia and Spain. Furthermore, it benefits from geographical diversification in terms of economies, customers and fiscal incentives for private health insurance. The ratings also benefit from its strong market positions in the fragmented UK and Spanish care home markets, where it is the second-largest market player. Ownership of Care Homes BF's UK care business has an advantage over some of its major peers in that it owns about 80% of its care homes, and also has the financial power of BF. BF has an estimated 5% market share in the fragmented UK care homes market. However, the company's care homes business on a standalone basis would be rated lower than its insurance business as it is geographically less diversified and the running of care homes generally requires significant ongoing capex outlays. Commitment to Current Ratings BF has a track record of managing its operations conservatively. It is committed to keeping credit protection measures in line with its 'A-' Long-Term IDR. RATING SENSITIVITIES Negative: Future developments that could lead to negative rating action include: A change in adjusted net debt/EBITDAR to around 2.0x (or FFO adjusted net leverage of 2.3x) on a sustainable basis and EBITDAR net fixed-charge cover of around 5.0x (or FFO fixed charge cover of 4.5x), for example as a result of larger debt-funded acquisitions. Positive: Future developments that could lead to positive rating actions include: Improved cash flow generation with a FCF margin of at least 7%. Adjusted net debt/EBITDAR below 1.0x (or FFO adjusted net leverage of 1.3x) on a sustainable basis and EBITDAR fixed charge cover of about 10x (or FFO fixed charge cover of 9.5x) on a sustained basis. LIQUIDITY AND DEBT STRUCTURE In Q412, BF refinanced its GBP0.9bn committed bank facility with a five-year GBP0.8bn committed bank facility. The company's cash position (cash in excess over the minimum capital requirement for the key insurance businesses) amounted to GBP573m at end-2012 (GBP559m at end 2011) and covered more than the short term debt of GBP21.4m. Contact: Principal Analyst Roma Patel Analyst +44 20 3530 1465 Supervisory Analyst Britta Holt Director +44 20 3530 1335 Fitch Ratings Limited 30 North Colonnade London E14 5GN Committee Chair Giulio Lombardi Senior Director +39 02 8790 87214 Media Relations: Peter Fitzpatrick, London, Tel: +44 20 3530 1103, Email: peter.this site Additional information is available on this site For regulatory purposes in various jurisdictions, the supervisory analyst named above is deemed to be the primary analyst for this issuer; the principal analyst is deemed to be the secondary. Applicable criteria, 'Corporate Rating Methodology', dated 8 August 2012 and 'Treatment and Notching of Hybrids in Nonfinancial Corporate and REIT Credit Analysis', dated 13 December 2012, available at this site Applicable Criteria and Related Research: Corporate Rating Methodology here Treatment and Notching of Hybrids in Nonfinancial Corporate and REIT Credit Analysis here Additional Disclosure Solicitation Status here ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: here. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY'S PUBLIC WEBSITE 'WWW. FITCHRATINGS. COM'. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. 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