AIIB completes hat trick of global AAA ratings
In less than three weeks, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) received the three highest ratings from global credit rating agencies in recognition of its strong capital base and stable outlook.
On July 18, S&P Global Ratings announced it has assigned AIIB "its highest possible rating and a stable outlook," following top-notch credit ratings from Moody's on June 29 and Fitch on July 13.
S&P put the long-term issuer credit rating at AAA and the short-term rating at A-1+, both the highest, according to a statement.
"The ratings reflect our opinion that over the next three-to-five years AIIB will establish a track record and significantly enhance its operational setup, supporting our assessment of its very strong business profile and its extremely strong financial profile," the agency said.
With 80 members so far, the Beijing-based AIIB was officially established in December 2015 and was opened for business in January 2016.
It prioritizes investment in energy, power generation, transport, rural infrastructure, environmental protection and logistics in Asia.
"AIIB has a robust callable capital base," and its members, including almost all AAA rated sovereigns globally, have entrusted the institution with "a very significant capital endowment of US$100 billion," S&P said.
The agency said it based the assessment on its forward-looking view that AIIB will deploy a significant portion of its resources to establish a track record and a strong footprint in Asia.
"Its important role is underpinned by the high need for infrastructure investment in the region," the agency said.
Earlier this year, the Asian Development Bank, a regional development bank dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific, estimated in a report that its 45 developing member countries would need to invest at least US$1.5 trillion annually in infrastructure projects from 2016 to 2030.
Factoring in climate mitigation and adaptation costs will raise the annual investment required to US$1.7 trillion, according to the report.
While the addition of the AIIB, alongside other multilateral lending institutions, will not come close to bridging the gap, AIIB will grow rapidly and become a significant financier of projects in Asia in the medium term, S&P said.
So far, the AIIB has approved a total of US$2.8 billion in loans for 17 projects.
"We have a strong pipeline of projects in 2017 that will prioritize green infrastructure investment, promote energy efficiency, renewables, clean transport and other projects that help address global warming," AIIB President Jin Liqun has said.
Moody's Investors Service assigned the AIIB a long-term foreign currency issuer rating of Aaa and a short-term foreign currency issuer rating of Prime-1, both the highest.
Fitch also gave the institution its highest ratings, with a long-term issuer default rating of AAA and a short-term issuer default rating of F1+, based on the bank's "existing and expected intrinsic strengths."
AIIB treasurer Soren Elbech has said obtaining a rating would pave the way for the bank to issue bonds, but "it will take several months before we are ready."
China is the largest shareholder of the AIIB with 27.5 percent of voting rights.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang said Tuesday that China was glad to see AIIB winning the highest ratings from international rating agencies.
"Facts have shown that the businesses and prospects of the AIIB have been fully acknowledged by the international community," Lu said.
The ratings will help the institution better fulfill its duties in enhancing infrastructure connectivity and sustainable development of the economies of all members, he added.
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