RAM Ratings reaffirms AA1(s)/Stable rating of Samalaju’s sukuk

Published on 24 Dec 2019.

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RAM Ratings has reaffirmed the AA1(s)/Stable rating of Samalaju Industrial Port Sdn Bhd’s (Samalaju or the Company) Sukuk Murabahah Programme of up to RM950 mil (2015/2036) (the Sukuk). The rating is underpinned by an unconditional and irrevocable corporate guarantee from Samalaju’s parent, Bintulu Port Holdings Berhad (BPHB, rated AA1/Stable/P1). 

Samalaju Port (the Port) plays an important role as a dedicated port and logistical hub for the tenants of Samalaju Industrial Park (the Park), which forms part of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE). Following the commencement of operations at Phase 1 of Samalaju Port on 6 June 2017, the Port has been experiencing encouraging growth in cargo throughput volumes, with 4.22 mil tonnes handled in 2018. In 1H 2019, cargo volume was lifted another 11.9% y-o-y (annualised) to 2.39 mil tonnes. We expect the Port to record an average annual growth of 14% over the next three years, backed by the steady expansion of its key customers. 

Stripping off revenue from construction services, Samalaju’s top line spiked up 74.7% to RM101.61 mil in FY Dec 2018, mainly attributable to its first full year of operations. On the other hand, the Company still incurred a pre-tax loss due to higher depreciation charges and finance costs after the completion of the Port. Looking ahead, Samalaju is poised to benefit from the anticipated expansion of the Port’s major customers in the medium term. As such, we expect the Company’s adjusted funds from operations debt coverage ratio to hover around 0.04 times on average while its adjusted gearing ratio will peak at 4.49 times over the next five years.

Samalaju is subject to customer concentration risk as its business hinges solely on the Park’s tenants. Demand at the Port is currently spurred by five customers – Press Metal Bintulu Sdn Bhd, OM Materials (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd, Sakura Ferroalloys Sdn Bhd, Pertama Ferroalloys Sdn Bhd and Clean Carbon (S) Sdn Bhd. Any severe deterioration in their business and/or financial profiles may affect Samalaju’s performance. Barring extreme shifts in economic conditions, the risk associated with the potential departure of any of these customers is moderated by their significant investments in setting up their facilities at the Park. 

Notably, the Sarawak state government plays a role in determining Samalaju’s strategic direction and is represented on the Company’s board. By extension, regulatory oversight of the Port rests with the Samalaju Port Authority, a state statutory body. In view of BPHB’s solid relationship with the Government of Malaysia – given the latter’s interests in BPHB through various government agencies, the state government and Petronas - the federal and state governments are perceived to be strongly incentivised to provide the Company with financial assistance. This will facilitate the success of the SCORE while ensuring Samalaju meets its financial and operational obligations. We believe the Company will keep deriving financial flexibility from BPHB as well as the federal and state governments.


Analytical contact
Chu Jia Ying
(603) 3385 2519

Media contact
Padthma Subbiah
(603) 3385 2577


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