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Zwelakhe Ntshepe, Denel Group Acting Group CEO

Fitch Ratings has affirmed both of Denel’s National Long-Term Rating and National Short-Term Rating as positive.

The outlook for both ratings remains stable, with the National Long-Term Rating at AAA (zaf) while the National Short-Term Rating is at F1+ (zaf).

Zwelakhe Ntshepe, Denel Group Acting Group Chief Executive Officer welcomed the decision by Fitch to affirm both the long-term and short-term ratings of the state-owned defence and technology company.

“We noted the concerns expressed by Fitch about Government’s guarantees to Denel as well as government’s reassurance to the ratings agency that these issues are receiving urgent attention at the highest levels,” says Ntshepe.

Denel plays a vital role in ensuring South Africa’s self-sufficiency in advanced defence systems and we are confident that government will play a very critical role in ensuring that the company remains a viable business.

Fitch notes that the decision to affirm the ratings reflects the continuing strong links between Denel and the state – mainly driven by the government’s irrevocable and unconditional guarantee for ZAR1.85 billion of the company’s ZAR3 billion domestic medium-term notes.

This guarantee expires on 30 September and Fitch has further noted that a decision not to extend this guarantee would result in a multi-notch downgrade for Denel’s ratings.

The Fitch Ratings report notes that Denel continues to deliver a strong top-line performance, benefitting from organic growth. Its key land systems projects are ramping up from the design to the production stage and this portfolio of the group was further strengthened with the acquisition of Denel Vehicle Systems.

It expects a short term decline in revenues and profitability during the past financial year which can mostly be attributed to foreign exchange factors and delays on major contracts.

In the medium term Denel’s performance will be affected by the groups restructuring plans and revenues will be suppressed by the future repositioning of divisions and products. However, Fitch expects that margins will improve resulting from the overhaul of the support cost structure.

Ntshepe said the leadership of the company further welcomed Fitch’s positive comments about the current interim leadership of Denel.

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