KBRA Assigns Rating to FS KKR Capital Corp.'s $400 Million Senior Unsecured Notes due 2029
21 Nov 2023 | New York
KBRA assigns a rating of BBB to FS KKR Capital Corp.'s (“FSK” or “the company”) $400 million 7.875% senior unsecured notes due 2029. The rating Outlook is Stable. The proceeds will be used for general corporate purposes, including the repayment of debt.
Key Credit Considerations
The ratings and Stable Outlook are supported by FS KKR Capital Corp.'s ties to KKR & Co., which has $510 billion of AUM, including $197 billion dedicated to private credit lending , along with FSK's SEC exemptive relief to co-invest among affiliated companies of KKR credit. As of September 30, 2023, FSK had a $14.7 billion well-diversified investment portfolio comprised mostly of senior secured first lien loans (60%) to 201 upper middle market companies within 24 industries. FSK focuses primarily on sponsor-backed companies that provide significant equity cushion with low LTVs. At 3Q23, the top four portfolio sectors were Software & Services (18%), Capital Goods (15%), Health Care Equipment & Services (12%), and Commercial & Professional Services (12%). The ratings also consider FSK's solid management team that has a long track record of working within the private debt markets with senior members each having decades of experience in leveraged finance. FSK is the second largest publicly traded BDC, which provides solid access to the capital markets evidenced by its $4.7 billion of senior unsecured debt outstanding. FSK's gross leverage (debt/equity) is appropriate at 1.15x with a prudent target net leverage range of 1.00x to 1.25x. KBRA favorably views the high proportion of unsecured debt to total debt of 59%, which allows for more asset un-encumbrance for unsecured noteholders. Asset coverage was 187% with a 25% cushion, which KBRA considers appropriate, allowing FSK to absorb increased market volatility as well as a potential increase in non-accruals as the U.S. economy weakens with rising rates and inflation. Despite the potential for adverse credit headwinds in 2023 and into 2024, KBRA believes the company should weather a more difficult credit environment from management’s long-term experience, solid underwriting with a large portion of its corporate debt with at least one financial covenant, and a large proportion of investments in which FSK is lead, co-lead, or sole originator.
The rating strengths are counterbalanced by the potential risks related to the company’s elevated non-accruals as a percentage of total investments at 4.8% and 2.4% at cost and fair value, respectively, as of September 30, 2023, and its relatively high percentage of unsecured, ABL, joint venture, and equity investments at 32% of total investments. Additionally, like its peers, the company's assets are relatively illiquid and its retained earnings are constrained as a Regulated Investment Company (RIC).
FSK is an externally managed, closed-end, non-diversified investment management company that elected to be treated as a Business Development Company (BDC) under the 1940 Act as an RIC, which, among other things, must distribute to its shareholders at least 90% of the company’s investment company taxable income. The company is formed as a Maryland corporation. The company is managed by FS/KKR Advisor, LLC, a partnership of FS Investments and KKR Credit that was formed in 2018. The KKR Credit platform is a subsidiary of KKR & Co.
The ratings for FSK are unlikely to be upgraded in the intermediate term. A rating downgrade and/or Outlook change to Negative could be considered if a prolonged downturn in the U.S. economy has material impacts on performance and non-accruals that significantly affect capital, leverage, and liquidity metrics. An increased focus on riskier investments or a significant change in the current management structure coupled with a negative change in strategy, credit monitoring, and/or originations could also pressure ratings.
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The press release headline has been updated since its initial publication to reflect the correct issuance amount.