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The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of sovereign credit ratings on corporations in South Africa by assessing whether the sovereign rating assigned to South…
The purpose of this paper is to examine the impact of sovereign credit ratings on corporations in South Africa by assessing whether the sovereign rating assigned to South Africa by credit rating agencies acts as a ceiling/constraint for credit ratings assigned to corporations that operate within the country. The question of whether sovereign ratings are significant in determining corporate ratings was also explored.
To test the hypothesis regarding the rating of corporates relative to sovereigns, a longitudinal panel design was followed. The analysis employed fixed effects and generalized method of moments techniques.
The main findings are that sovereign ratings both act as a ceiling for corporate ratings and are important determinants of corporate ratings in South Africa. The findings however indicated that company specific variables (accounting variables) are not significant in explaining credit risk ratings assigned to corporates.
This study only looked at the rating activity done by Standard and Poor’s (S&P). A possible further study could explore the hypothesis tested in this research using data from multiple rating agencies and contrast the results across different agencies. Future studies could also look at crisis periods and how the transfer risk discussed in this paper manifests during the transfer period.
The results have implications for the borrowing costs incurred by corporates in South Africa when participating in the international debt market. The implication is that if the sovereign is poorly rated, the corporates may be limited in their ability to secure investor funding at competitive rates from the international financial markets. Thus, should South Africa be downgraded to non-investment grade by S&P, the implications may be that South African corporates on average may suffer the same fate.
Extant literature predominantly utilizes foreign currency ratings. To the extent that this study uses local currency ratings, it adds a new dimension in the body of related studies.