Wheatley Group upgraded to UK’s highest credit rating
International ratings agency Standard and Poor’s upgraded the social landlord to AA (stable), up from AA- (positive), making it the highest-rated housing group of the 70 with a credit rating in the UK. Wheatley is the only housing provider based outside the south east of England to have an AA rating from S&P’s.
Glasgow Housing Association, the Group’s largest subsidiary and Scotland’s largest Registered Social Landlord, has also been upgraded from AA- to AA, as has the senior secured debt rating on Wheatley’s £300 million bond, issued in November, 2014.
The vote of confidence in Wheatley’s financial performance follows Standard and Poor’s annual review of Wheatley in April, which involved in-depth analysis of the Group’s business and financial performance, progress with its massive new-build programme and the evolving Scottish policy and regulatory context. The “stable” outlook reflects S&P’s view of Wheatley’s “strong enterprise profile” reflected in the high demand for social housing in the Group’s area of operations.
Wheatley Group chief executive, Martin Armstrong, said: “It is a quite remarkable achievement to be the highest rated of any housing group in the UK and is testament to the outstanding work done by our 2500 staff across Scotland.
“Our five-year strategy, ‘Investing In Our Futures’, set the ambitious target of achieving this upgrade by 2017. Reaching such a landmark a year ahead of schedule time is recognition of the expertise, dedication and excellence of our staff in delivering some of the highest levels of service in the UK in housing, care and property-management.”
Wheatley’s credit rating has increased every year since its first rating in 2014, having been upgraded from AA- (stable) to AA- (positive) in 2015.
Wheatley’s debut public bond issue in November, 2014, raised £300m (£50m of which was retained) and was more than £125m over-subscribed. The Group returned to the capital markets in January, 2015, to drawn down the £50m and secured, what was at the time, the UK’s lowest all-in coupon price for a housing association public bond at 3.542 per cent.
The £300m raised is part funding the Group’s ambitious plans to increase the supply of affordable housing across Central Scotland.