The Competition Commission of India's penalty of over Rs 6,700 crore on 11 cement companies amounts to 20-75 per cent of the players’ 2015-16 operating profits, however, the move is credit neutral due to their low leverage levels, said India Ratings and Research.
“Most of the companies (eight out of 11) maintain a low leverage and thus will be in a position to absorb the burden, in the event the penalty has to be paid. The penalty, however, will put pressure on the credit metrics for companies with relatively high levels of leverage,” the ratings agency said in a statement.
Fair trade regulator CCI in its order dated August 31, 2016 imposed a penalty of Rs 6,700 crore on 11 cement companies for alleged cartelisation.
“Maintaining high prices in the face of declining capacity utilisation has over the past few years allowed cement companies to contain decline in profits,” it said.
India Ratings said it maintains a stable outlook for cement manufacturers for 2016-17 and expects the cement industry to grow in the range of 4 per cent-6 per cent during 2016-17.
“A favourable monsoon after two consecutive bad years, can give a leg-up to rural demand, and government initiatives (such as ‘Housing for All’ and the thrust on infrastructure activities) are expected to improve overall cement demand with a lag and show signs after FY17,” the rating agency said