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Live Nation Entertainment, Inc. -- Moody's downgrades Live Nation's CFR to B2

·16 mins read

Rating Action: Moody's downgrades Live Nation's CFR to B2

Global Credit Research - 18 Aug 2020

Approximately $5 billion of debt rated

Toronto, August 18, 2020 -- Moody's Investors Service (Moody's) downgraded Live Nation Entertainment, Inc.'s (Live Nation) corporate family rating (CFR) to B2 from Ba3, probability of default rating to B2-PD from Ba3-PD, senior secured credit facilities ratings to B1 from Ba2, senior secured notes rating to B1 from Ba2, and senior unsecured notes ratings to B3 from B1. Moody's also downgraded the company's speculative grade liquidity rating to SGL-2 from SGL-1. The outlook remains negative.

"The downgrade of the CFR reflects expectations that the coronavirus pandemic will drive continued deterioration in the company's financial results and credit metrics due to suspension of live events", said Peter Adu, Moody's Vice President and Senior Analyst. "The downgrade of the SGL rating captures the company's cash burn", Adu added.

Ratings Downgraded:

Corporate Family Rating, to B2 from Ba3

Probability of Default Rating, to B2-PD from Ba3-PD

Senior Secured Credit Facilities, to B1 (LGD3) from Ba2 (LGD2)

Senior Secured Notes, to B1 (LGD3) from Ba2 (LGD2)

Senior Unsecured Notes, to B3 (LGD5) from B1 (LGD4)

Speculative Grade Liquidity Rating, to SGL-2 from SGL-1

Outlook Action: Outlook, Remains Negative RATINGS RATIONALE

Live Nation's B2 CFR is constrained by: (1) the continued significant negative impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its revenue and profitability; (2) elevated leverage (adjusted Debt/EBITDA) and expectations that the metric will be sustained above 6x through the next 12 to 18 months (28x for LTM Q2/2020); and (3) event risks, such as new ticketing competitors and regulatory changes addressing the company's substantial market position or mandated consumer protection initiatives. The company's rating benefits from: (1) good liquidity, which provides flexibility to meet its obligations over the next 12 months; (2) good market position, enhanced by established relationships with performing artists together with platforms for concert promotions and ticketing; which create substantial entry barriers; and (3) good growth prospects post-pandemic especially in emerging markets, where rising middle class incomes will drive increased consumption of live events.

The rapid and widening spread of the coronavirus outbreak, weakened global economic outlook and asset price declines are creating a severe and extensive credit shock across many sectors, regions and markets. The combined credit effects of these developments are unprecedented. The live entertainment sector has been one of the sectors most significantly affected by the shock given its sensitivity to consumer demand and sentiment. Due to the spread of the virus, live events have been postponed or canceled. While Live Nation has gone through cyclical downturns over time, the impact of the pandemic on its profitability and cash flow is far worse than observed in previous cycles. Today's rating action reflects the impact on Live Nation of the breadth and severity of the shock, and the broad deterioration in credit quality it has triggered.

Live Nation's social risk is elevated. The coronavirus pandemic is expected to continue to impact operations in the live entertainment sector and in turn Live Nation's earnings and cash flow until a vaccine becomes available. Also, the company's market position attracts periodic adverse publicity related to both consumer protection and anti-competitive behavior. These lead to periodic calls for regulatory intervention and although the company has not been sanctioned, credit concerns exist.

Live Nation's governance risk is elevated as it has engaged in growth by acquisitions without a public leverage target.

Live Nation has good liquidity (SGL-2). Sources approximate $2.7 billion while Moody's estimates that negative free cash flow may be $1.5 billion in the 12 months to June 30, 2021, with minimal debt maturities. The company has stated that it expects to consume about $185 million per month on average through the end of 2020 [1], which Moody's anticipates may improve somewhat in mid-2021. Liquidity is supported by cash of about $1.7 billion (excluding $745 million in ticketing client cash and $717 million of net event-related deferred revenue), $565 million of availability under its $630 million multi-revolving credit facility that matures in October 2024 (none drawn but there is $65 million of letters of credit outstanding) and $400 million of delayed draw term loan that can be tapped for liquidity purposes. In July 2020, the company amended the net leverage covenant under its revolving credit facility. The covenant is not applicable until the fourth quarter of 2021 unless the company chooses to resume the testing earlier. Instead, a $500 million minimum liquidity test is applicable and compliance is not expected to be problematic through the next four quarters. Live Nation has limited ability to generate liquidity from asset sales.

The negative outlook reflects Live Nation's elevated leverage, cash burn and uncertainty as to when live events will return to normal and also signals that a rating downgrade may occur if the coronavirus pandemic is expected to significantly pressure demand for live events and the company's liquidity in mid-2021.

FACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO AN UPGRADE OR DOWNGRADE OF THE RATINGS

For an upgrade to be considered, the company must demonstrate stable operating performance, eliminate its cash burn and maintain very good liquidity while sustaining Debt/EBITDA below 5.5x (28x for LTM Q2/2020) and FCF/Debt above 5% (-10% for LTM Q2/2020).

The ratings could be downgraded if suspension of live events continues in mid-2021, if liquidity becomes weak or if Debt/EBITDA is sustained above 6.5x (28x for LTM Q2/2020) and FCF/Debt below 0% (-10% for LTM Q2/2020).

Live Nation Entertainment, Inc., headquartered in Beverly Hills, California, operates a leading live entertainment ticketing and marketing company (Ticketmaster), and owns, operates and/or exclusively books venues and promotes live entertainment with operations in North America, Europe, Asia and South America. Revenue for the twelve months ended June 30, 2020 was $8.1 billion.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Business and Consumer Service Industry published in October 2016 and available at https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1037985. Alternatively, please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For further specification of Moody's key rating assumptions and sensitivity analysis, see the sections Methodology Assumptions and Sensitivity to Assumptions in the disclosure form. Moody's Rating Symbols and Definitions can be found at: https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_79004.

For ratings issued on a program, series, category/class of debt or security this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series, category/class of debt, security or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the credit rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular credit rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

For any affected securities or rated entities receiving direct credit support from the primary entity(ies) of this credit rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this credit rating action, the associated regulatory disclosures will be those of the guarantor entity. Exceptions to this approach exist for the following disclosures, if applicable to jurisdiction: Ancillary Services, Disclosure to rated entity, Disclosure from rated entity.

The ratings have been disclosed to the rated entity or its designated agent(s) and issued with no amendment resulting from that disclosure.

These ratings are solicited. Please refer to Moody's Policy for Designating and Assigning Unsolicited Credit Ratings available on its website www.moodys.com.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

Moody's general principles for assessing environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks in our credit analysis can be found at https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1133569.

At least one ESG consideration was material to the credit rating action(s) announced and described above.

The Global Scale Credit Rating on this Credit Rating Announcement was issued by one of Moody's affiliates outside the EU and is endorsed by Moody's Deutschland GmbH, An der Welle 5, Frankfurt am Main 60322, Germany, in accordance with Art.4 paragraph 3 of the Regulation (EC) No 1060/2009 on Credit Rating Agencies. Further information on the EU endorsement status and on the Moody's office that issued the credit rating is available on www.moodys.com.

REFERENCES/CITATIONS

[1] Form 10-Q (SEC), August 5, 2020

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Peter Adu, CFA Vice President - Senior Analyst Corporate Finance Group Moody's Canada Inc. 70 York Street Suite 1400 Toronto, ON M5J 1S9 Canada JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376 Client Service: 1 212 553 1653 Donald S. Carter, CFA MD - Corporate Finance Corporate Finance Group JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376 Client Service: 1 212 553 1653 Releasing Office: Moody's Canada Inc. 70 York Street Suite 1400 Toronto, ON M5J 1S9 Canada JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376 Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

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