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Scope assigns BBB-(SF) to class A notes issued by ARAGORN NPL 2018 S.R.L.– Italian NPL ABS



Scope assigns BBB-(SF) to class A notes issued by ARAGORN NPL 2018 S.R.L.– Italian NPL ABS

Scope Ratings has today assigned final ratings to the notes issued by ARAGORN NPL 2018 S.R.L., a static cash securitisation of a EUR 1,671m portfolio of Italian non-performing loans

The rating actions are as follows:

  • Class A (ISIN IT0005336992), EUR 509,524,000: assigned a final rating of BBB-SF
  • Class B (ISIN IT0005337008), EUR 66,822,000: assigned a final rating of BSF
  • Class J (ISIN IT0005337016), EUR 10,000,000: not rated

The transaction is a static cash securitisation of a EUR 1,671m Italian NPL portfolio, by gross book value (GBV), comprising both secured (75.4%) and unsecured (24.6%) loans. The loans were extended to companies (91.1%) and individuals (9.9%) and were originated by CreditoValtellinese (84.5%) and Credito Siciliano (15.5%) (jointly, Creval), two subsidiaries of the CreditoValtellinese Banking Group. The portfolio is concentrated because the 10 and 100 largest borrower exposures account for 8.2% and 39.4% of GBV, respectively. Secured loans are backed by residential (43.4% of indexed property valuations) and non-residential (56.6%) properties that are highly concentrated in the Italian region of Lombardy (46.6%). The issuer acquired the portfolio at the closing date, 12 June 2018, but is entitled to all portfolio collections received since 31 December 2017 (the portfolio cut-off date).

Asset information reflects aggregation by loans.

The structure comprises three classes of notes with fully sequential principal amortisation: senior class A, mezzanine class B, and junior class J. The class B interest margin ranks senior to class A principal at closing but will be deferred if special servicer performance triggers are breached, while the index component always ranks junior to class A principal. Class J principal and interest are subordinated to the repayment of the rated notes.

Rating rationale

The ratings are mainly driven by recovery amounts and timing from the NPL portfolio, which was acquired by the issuer at a 64.9% discount relative to the portfolio’s GBV. Scope’s recovery and timing assumptions incorporate a positive assessment of the special servicers’ capabilities and incentives, as well as the economic outlook for Italy. The ratings are supported by the structural protection provided to the notes, the absence of equity leakage provisions, liquidity protection, and interest rate hedging agreements.

The ratings also address exposures to the key transaction counterparties: Cerved Credit Management (CCM), first special servicer; CreditoFondiario (CF), second special servicer and master servicer; Cerved Master Services, back-up servicer; Citibank as noteholders’ representative, account bank, cash manager and paying agent; Intesa Sanpaolo, interim collections account bank; Securitisation Services, monitoring agent; and Société Générale as interest rate cap provider. Scope has incorporated counterparty replacement triggers that rely on Scope’s ratings of Intesa and Société Général, as well as publicly available ratings on Citibank.

Scope applied a specific analysis on secured and unsecured exposures. For secured exposures, collections were mostly based on up-to-date property appraisal values which were stressed to account for liquidity and market value risks, while recovery timing assumptions were derived using line-by-line asset information detailing the type of legal proceeding, the court issuing the proceeding, and the stage of the proceeding at the cut-off date. For unsecured exposures, Scope used historical line-by-line recovery data on defaulted loans between 2003 and 2017 and calibrated recoveries, taking into account the fact that unsecured borrowers were classified as defaulted for an average of 3.2 years as of closing.

Key rating drivers

Portfolio servicing (positive): Two independent servicers limit the transaction’s sensitivity to servicer disruption. The performance fee structure reasonably aligns incentives between the servicers and the investors. In the event of a servicer disruption, the monitoring agent will assist the issuer in finding a suitable replacement.

Asset location (positive): 58.4% of loan collateral and 62.7% of unsecured borrowers are located in northern Italy, in particular Lombardy. These regions benefit from the most dynamic economic conditions and, in general, the most efficient tribunals in the country.

Tight performance triggers (positive): The senior noteholders are protected by relatively tight performance triggers. If the special servicers do not meet at least 90% of the business plan collections schedule (or at least 100% during the first two payment dates), class B interest payments will be deferred below class A principal.

Liquidity protection (positive): A cash reserve representing 5% of the outstanding class A notes balance protects the liquidity of senior noteholders, covering senior expenses and interest on class A notes for about four payment dates as of closing.

Interest rate cap (positive): An interest rate cap, with a strike equal to 0% at closing and 0.1% as of June 2022, strongly mitigates the risk of increased liabilities on the notes in the event of a rise in Euribor levels. Scope expects the notes to amortise at an equal or faster pace than the scheduled notional amount defined in the cap agreement, leaving no portion of the outstanding notes unhedged.

Real estate recovery (positive): Scope expects a gradual recovery of the Italian real estate market to continue, considering the current cycle.

High portion of loans with no proceedings or in bankruptcy proceedings (negative): Almost 60% of the portfolio’s GBV corresponds to loans with no ongoing proceedings. Compared with non-bankruptcy proceedings, bankruptcies typically result in lower recoveries and take longer to be resolved. About 23% of the loans are already in bankruptcy proceedings.

Seasoned unsecured portfolio (negative): The weighted average time since default is approximately 3.2 years for the unsecured portion. Most unsecured recoveries are realized in the first years after a default according to historical data.

Concentrated portfolio (negative): The top 10 and top 100 debtor exposures account for 8.2% and 39.4% of the portfolio’s GBV respectively.

Mezzanine notes tranche thinness (negative): The class B notes are very sensitive to changes in the underlying asset assumptions, because the size of the tranche is very thin relative to the size of the portfolio (4% of GBV). This implies that a small decrease or delay in portfolio collections may lead to significant mezzanine noteholder losses.

Collateral liquidity risk (negative): Fire-sale discount assumptions constitute the primary source of portfolio performance stresses.

Positive rating-change drivers

Servicer recovery timing outperformance: Consistent servicer outperformance in terms of recovery timing could positively impact the ratings. Portfolio collections will be completed over a weighted average period of 5.3 years, according to the servicers’ business plan. This is about 12 months faster than Scope’s expected recovery timing assumptions derived from public data, and about 24 months faster than the recovery timing vector applied for the analysis of the class A notes (Scope expects recent legal reforms to have a positive impact on court performance and has applied a limited stress on recovery timing assumptions).

Negative rating-change drivers

Sluggish real estate recovery: A slower-than-expected recovery, or an unexpected market downturn, could negatively impact the ratings.

Collateral appraisal values: NPL collateral appraisals are more uncertain than standard appraisals because repossessed assets are more likely to deteriorate in value. A systematic upward bias of collateral appraisal values beyond the liquidity stresses captured by Scope in its analysis could result in a rating downgrade.

Legal costs: An increase in legal expenses could negatively affect the ratings. Scope has given credit to the legal expenses for collections detailed in the servicer business plan, which average about 7% of gross collections.

Quantitative analysis and key assumptions

Scope performed a cash flow analysis which considers the structural features of the transaction in order to calculate the expected loss and weighted average life for each tranche. As the first step, Scope analysed the assets to produce a rating-conditional cash flow projection of gross recoveries for the portfolio of defaulted loans.

For the analysis of the class A notes, Scope assumed a gross recovery rate of 41.9% over a weighted average life of 7.4 years. By portfolio segment, Scope assumed a gross recovery rate of 49.9% and 17.2% for the secured and unsecured portfolios, respectively. For the analysis of the class A notes, Scope has applied an average fire-sale discount of 27.2% to security valuations, which reflect liquidity or marketability risks, as well as moderate property price decline stresses (4.8% on average), which reflect our view of limited downside market volatility risk.

For the analysis of the class B notes, Scope assumed a gross recovery rate of 48.4% over a weighted average life of 6.4 years. By portfolio segment, Scope assumed a gross recovery rate of 57.7% and 20.1% for the secured and unsecured portfolios, respectively.

Scope captured idiosyncratic risk by applying rating-conditional recovery rate haircuts to the 10 largest borrowers, ranging from 0% for the analysis of the class B notes to 8.3% for the analysis of the class A notes.

Scope has assumed that 55% of the loans with no ongoing procedures will fall under bankruptcy.

Stress testing

Stress testing was performed by applying rating-adjusted recovery rate assumptions.

Cash flow analysis

Scope analysed the cash flow vectors from the assets and took into account the transaction’s main structural features, such as the notes priorities of payments, notes size, the coupon on the notes, hedging, senior costs, as well as fixed- and collections-based servicing fees. The outcome of the analysis produces an expected loss and an expected weighted average life for the notes.

Rating sensitivity

Scope tested the resilience of the ratings against deviations from expected recovery rates and recovery timing. This analysis has the sole purpose of illustrating the sensitivity of the ratings to input assumptions and is not indicative of expected or likely scenarios.

Scope tested the sensitivity of the analysis to deviations from the main input assumptions: i) recovery-rate level; and ii) recovery timing.

The following shows how the results for class A change compared to the assigned credit rating in the event of:

  • a decrease in secured and unsecured recovery rates by 10%: 3 notches; and
  • an increase in the recovery lag of two years, negative: 2 notches

The following shows how the results for class B change compared to the assigned credit rating in the event of:

  • a decrease in secured and unsecured recovery rates by 5%: 3 notches; and
  • an increase in the recovery lag of one year: 2 notches


The methodologies applied for this rating is the General Structured Finance Methodology, dated August 2017. Scope also applied the principles contained in the ‘Methodology for Counterparty Risk in Structured Finance’ dated August 2017. All documents are available on detail regarding the approach applied can be found in the Quantitative analysis and key assumptions section above.

Scope analysts are available to discuss all the details of the rating analysis and the risks to which this transaction is exposed.

Solicitation, key sources and quality of information

The rated entity and/or its agents participated / did not participate in the rating process.

The following substantially material sources of information were used to prepare the credit rating: public domain, the rated entity, the rated entities’ agents, third parties and Scope internal sources.

Scope considers the quality of information available to Scope on the rated entity or instrument to be satisfactory. The information and data supporting Scope’s ratings originate from sources Scope considers to be reliable and accurate. Scope does not, however, independently verify the reliability and accuracy of the information and data.

Scope Ratings GmbH has relied on a third-party asset audit. The external asset audit has a neutral impact on the credit rating.

Prior to the issuance of the rating, the rated entity was given the opportunity to review the rating and the principal grounds on which it is based. Following that review, the rating was not amended before being issued.

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Investing into a more sustainable future: changing businesses from the inside out



Investing into a more sustainable future: changing businesses from the inside out 1

By Shawn Welch, Vice President and General Manager of Hi-Cone Worldwide

As industries across the world are facing unprecedented uncertainty and anticipating the economic implications of the current health crisis, business leaders have the unique opportunity to seize the chance to make lasting, positive changes and re-interpret the business challenges in a positive way – without forgetting or minimising the toll the pandemic has taken. When trying to identify a way forward, the future must be sustainable. We must take this opportunity to find a more sustainable way for businesses and manufacturers to survive.

Environmental and economic concern have only increased the gap on what consumers want – more sustainability – and how much progress businesses can make without risking their viability. However, rather than giving up on ambitious goals, maybe we need to reframe the way we look at sustainability. So far, businesses have tended to react to consumer demands, often without looking into the long-term implications and research-based due diligence one would expect. Therefore, now is the right time to be more deliberate: to continue on the path towards a truly sustainable ‘new normal’, businesses need to consider the bottom line impact more than ever before and truly invest in changing their business models to become more sustainable.

Shawn Welch

Shawn Welch

To meet the UN’s ambitious 2030 Sustainable Development Goals, businesses ultimately must thrive – working towards establishing a circular economy remains crucial. Instead of a linear ‘extract, use, dispose’ approach, materials need to be respected and re-used as many times as possible, which is only possible if products are designed for re-use, re-manufacturing, repair or restarting. After all, any and all consumption comes at a price. In manufacturing, processes draw on resources to produce items that, once they have served their purpose, become surplus to requirements. Yet, to ignore this is to take an incomplete view of sustainability: instead, materials are extracted from waste to re-enter production processes. Reuse and recycling initiatives are central to this and great strides have been made in raising awareness of this need. The full environmental cost of production and consumption includes the choice of materials themselves but also the level of carbon emissions generated, and energy consumed.

Once products and processes have redesigned for a circular approach, this initial investment will often easily be recouped, especially if we start with looking at the facts when starting this crucial process. To make the Circular Economy a focus for any business very often means changing the business model. Here, investing in research and development is vital. In the packaging industry, for example, we are seeing that customers and consumers are increasingly more focused on sustainability, and that surprising changes can unlock societal and business value. Through minimising a product’s carbon footprint or making recycling easier for consumers, lifecycle-assessment-based product redesigns or using recycled plastics instead of larger quantities of cardboard, companies are identifying these more creative options and enjoying the long-lasting benefits that come with implementing them. In any case, leadership is key. A research-driven approach gets everyone on-board and seeing management committing to these goals as part of business plans helps cement these. At a recent Reuters Responsible Business Summit virtual panel, I was part of an interesting conversation. Here, Yolanda Malone, Vice President Global R&D Snacks PKG, PepsiCo, discussed how leaders have to drive the behaviours within the organisation and the tone for the culture. She explained that her sustainable plastics vision is a world where plastics never become waste. Only through putting the mantra of “reduce, recycle, rethink and reinvent” can we bring circular products to consumer. She stressed that, if we don’t reinvent, we will fall back into old habits.

Of course, consumer behaviours play a part and the easier the solution, the more likely consumers will get behind it. End consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of packaging. So, to be truly circular, we need to take into account the entire lifecycle. Mindset change needs to continue to happen. Consumers need to be clear about what their choices are. To achieve this, we must change our businesses from the inside out, allowing for close collaboration inside and outside of our organisations. Other organisations – such as governments and recycling organisations – will need to be involved in businesses’ efforts, multiplying the impact our investments will have. We must address all aspects of sustainability and, for example, have better recycling, a focus on infrastructure and emphasis on consumer education. To recover, reuse and recycle, the R&D must be in place and dedicated to sustainability. Partnerships are important as we, as other leading global companies realise, cannot do this alone. Collaboration is key when investing in a more sustainable, more Circular, future.

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Securing Information Throughout the Supply Chain – Preventing Supplier Vulnerabilities 



Securing Information Throughout the Supply Chain – Preventing Supplier Vulnerabilities  2

By Adam Strange, Data Classification Specialist, HelpSystems 

The financial services sector is experiencing extreme disruption coupled with rapid innovation as established institutions strive to become more agile and meet evolving customer demand. At the same time, new market entrants compete fiercely for customers. Increasing operational flexibility, through the deployment of cloud infrastructure or via digital transformation initiatives, is critical for future competitiveness but it has also driven regulatory and security challenges, particularly around working with suppliers.

That said, the benefits of a diverse, interconnected supply chain are compelling: agility, speed, and cost reduction all weigh on the positive side of the equation, prompting financial institutions to pursue close, collaborative relationships with suppliers, often numbering in the hundreds or thousands.

Weakness in the supply chain

On the negative side is the increased cyber threat when enterprises expose their networks to their supply chain. In our modern interconnected digital ecosystems, most financial organisations have many supply chain dependencies and it only takes one of these to have cybersecurity vulnerabilities to bring a business to its knees.

As a result, breaches originating in third parties are common and costly – a Ponemon Institute/IBM study found that breaches being caused by a third party was the top factor that amplified the cost of a breach, adding an average of $370,000 to the breach cost.

Concern around the supply chain was also evidenced in a recent report we have just issued, whereby we interviewed 250 CISOs and CIOs from financial institutions about the cybersecurity challenges they face and nearly half (46%) said that cybersecurity weaknesses in the supply chain had the biggest potential to cause the most damage in the next 12 months.

But sharing information with suppliers is essential for the supply chain to function. Most financial services organisations go to great lengths to secure intellectual property, personally identifiable information (PII) and other sensitive data internally, yet when this information is shared across the supply chain, does it get the same robust attention?

Further amplified by COVID-19

Financial service organisations have always been a key target for cyber attacks.  Our research showed that since COVID-19 hit, the risk has elevated further, with 45% of the respondents seeing increased cybersecurity attacks during this period. Likewise, hackers are rejecting frontal assaults on well-defended walls in favour of infiltrating networks via vulnerabilities in suppliers.

But financial services organisations must maintain reputations and ensure customer trust. Firms are keen to demonstrate that they are protecting customer assets, providing an ultra-reliable service and working with trustworthy partners. So, what can they do to better protect their supplier ecosystem?

At the very least, they need to ensure basic controls are implemented around their suppliers’ IT infrastructure.  For example, they must ensure suppliers maintain a secure infrastructure with a minimum of Cyber Essentials or the equivalent US CIS certification controls. Cyber Essentials defines a set of controls which, when implemented, provide organisations with basic protection from the most prevalent forms of threats, focusing on threats which require low levels of attacker skill, and which are widely available online.

Likewise, they need to ensure good information management controls are in place and this begins with accurate information/data classification. After all, how can you apply appropriate controls to your information unless you know what it is and where it is?

How ISO27001 helps organisations put in place a data classification process

The international standard on information security, ISO27001, describes the basic ingredients for data classification to ensure the data receives the appropriate level of protection in accordance with its importance to the organisation. It comprises three basic elements:

  • Classification of data – in terms of legal requirements, value, criticality and sensitivity to unauthorised disclosure or modification.
  • Labelling of data – an appropriate set of procedures for information labelling should be developed and implemented in accordance with the organisation’s information classification scheme.
  • Handling of assets – procedures for the handling of assets developed and implemented in accordance with the organisation’s information classification scheme.

Adoption of this methodology will help financial services organisations and their supply chain take a more data-centric information security approach. However, there are essentially four key stages for implementing a data risk assurance supply chain approach and these are:

 1. Approval – in organisations with complex supply chains senior management, vendor management, procurement and information security will all need to support a robust risk-based information management approach. Details of previous incidents and their impact alongside the business benefits will be essential to gain stakeholder buy in.

 2. Preparation – Organisations should start with Tier 1 suppliers and initially identify the contracts with the highest business impact/risk. They should identify and record information repositories and the data that they contain together with the responsible business owners. Define a business taxonomy based on information categories of that data and include supply chain factors such as what information categories are shared.

For example, they need to understand the business impact of compromise against each of the information categories. Have any suppliers suffered security incidents? What assurance mechanisms are in place? Once all this information is collated the organisation can create a data classification policy and define a set of controls for each data category.

 3. Discovery – Select each data category and identify the associated contracts. Then prioritise the data category based on the risk assessment and verify that the data security controls and arrangements for each data category and contract meet the overall requirements. Once complete, hand over the contract for inclusion in the vendor management cycle.

4. Embed process – the overall objective is to embed information risk management into the procurement lifecycle from start to finish. Therefore, whenever a new contract is created there are a number of actions required which embed data risk at each stage of the bid, tender, procurement, evaluation, implementation and termination phases of the contract.

To summarise, organisations should start by researching the information risk and security frameworks such as ISO27001 and others. They should then focus on defining their business taxonomy and data categories together with the business impact of compromise to help develop a data classification scheme. Finally, they should implement the data classification scheme and embed data risk management into the procurement lifecycle processes from start to finish. By effectively embedding data risk management and categorisation into their procurement and vendor management processes, they are preventing their suppliers’ vulnerabilities becoming their own and are more effectively securing data in the supply chain.

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Deloitte: Middle East organizations need to rethink their workforce in the wake of COVID-19



Deloitte: Middle East organizations need to rethink their workforce in the wake of COVID-19 3

Organizations in the Middle East have had to take immediate actions in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as shifting to remote and virtual work, implementing new ways of working and redirecting the workforce on critical activities. According to Deloitte’s 10th annual 2020 Middle East Human Capital Trends report, “The social enterprise at work: Paradox as a path forward,” organizations now need to think about how to sustain these actions by embedding them into their organizational culture.

“COVID-19 has created a clarifying moment for work and the workforce. Organizations that expand their focus on worker well-being, from programs adjacent to work to designing well-being into the work itself, will help their workers not only feel their best but perform at their best. Doing so will strengthen the tie between well-being and organizational outcomes, drive meaningful work, and foster a greater sense of belonging overall,” said Ghassan Turqieh, Consulting Partner, Human Capital, Deloitte Middle East.

According to the Deloitte report, many organizations in the Middle East made quick arrangements to engage with employees in the wake of the pandemic through frequent communications, multiple webinars where senior leaders addressed employee concerns, virtual employee events, manager check-ins, periodic calls and other targeted interactions with the workforce.

The report also discussed how UAE and KSA governments have reexamined work policies and practices, amended regulations and introduced COVID-19 initiatives to support companies and the workforce in the public and private sectors. Flexible and remote working, team-building and engagement activities, well-ness programs, recognition awards and modern workspaces are among the many things that are now adding to the employee experience.

Key findings from the Deloitte global report include:

  • Only 17% of respondents are making significant investments in reskilling to support their AI strategy with only 12% using AI primarily to replace workers;
  • 27% of respondents have clear policies and practices to manage the ethical challenges resulting from the future of work despite 85% of respondents saying the future of work raises ethical challenges;
  • Three-quarters of leaders are expecting to source new skills and capabilities through reskilling, but only 45% are rewarding workers for the development of new skills; and
  • Only 45% of respondents are prepared or very prepared to take advantage of the alternative workforce to access key capabilities despite gig workers being likely to comprise 43% of the U.S. workforce this year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Worker well-being is a top priority today, and similarly to the rest of the world, companies in the Middle East are focusing their efforts to redesign work around well-being by understanding workforce well-being needs,” said Rania Abu Shukur, Director, Human Capital, Consulting, Deloitte Middle East.

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