Fitch Ratings believes that demonetisation could lead to a short-term liquidity stress in Indian auto ABS transactions. The stress is likely to be limited to a few months, in which case it would not result in pressure on ratings.
India began to withdraw high-denomination bank notes - that account for 86% of the value of currency in circulation - earlier this month. The withdrawal has created a cash crunch that Fitch expects to hold back economic activity in the near term.
Fitch expects a liquidity squeeze in Indian auto ABS to result from a substantial drop in collections from small commercial vehicle (CV) operators - especially used-CV operators - in November and December. Cash collections typically account for 20%-50% of total collections by Indian CV loan originators within Fitch-rated ABS transactions. The cash-collection percentage is especially high on loans for used CVs, as well as for new small CVs, light CVs and tractors.
Smaller CV operators usually receive their income and pay expenses in cash. We expect the cash crunch caused by demonetisation to affect both the income of these borrowers and their repayment capabilities in the short term, due to the delaying of non-critical economic activities by their customers.
Furthermore, the impact of demonetisation on economic activity could lead to a temporary drop in demand for services involving CVs, creating stress on the repayment capabilities of CV loan borrowers. We also see a moral-hazard risk of capable borrowers also defaulting on their monthly repayments, given the potential for a general increase in tolerance of delinquencies due to this disruption.
Delinquencies are likely to remain high for several months in 2017, as small borrowers are likely to take time to make up for missed payments. Fitch will continue to monitor closely the repayment behaviour of underlying borrowers in the next few months.
Average collection for Fitch-rated Indian ABS transactions was around 107% of scheduled investor payout obligations, as of the last reported collection month. In a scenario of a sharp decline of 30% in collections, all Fitch-rated Indian ABS transactions could manage timely payment of interest and principal for at least nine months, and on average for 24 months, with support from available external CE.
Nevertheless, there could be an impact on the ratings of recent, less-seasoned transactions if delinquencies continue to rise sharply for more than a few months.
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