Air Liquide reviews the Group’s financing strategy on a regular basis to provide support to its growth objectives and take into account changes in financial market conditions, all while respecting a credit profile in line with a “A” range minimum Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s long term rating. Since the Airgas acquisition in May 2016, Air Liquide’s credit ratings are affirmed, respectively by the two rating agencies, at “A-” and “A3-”, with a recently revised outlook to positive by S&P and unchanged at stable from Moody's.
Air Liquide’s financing principles
Our financing strategy consists in the following principles:
Diversification of funding sources and debt maturities to minimize refinancing risk
Backing of commercial paper issues with solid lines of credit
Hedging of interest rate risks to ensure visibility of funding costs in line with long-term investment decisions
Funding investments in the currency of operating cash flows to ensure a natural foreign exchange hedge
Centralizing excess cash through Air Liquide Finance, a wholly owned entity of Air Liquide S.A.
A well balanced mix of funding sources and maturities
Air Liquide diversifies its financing sources by accessing various debt markets. In the long run, the Group funds itself with bond issues, usually through its Euro Medium-Term Notes programme (EMTN), targeting European, American, as well as Chinese markets. Over the short term, Air Liquide has recourse to Negotiable European Commercial Paper (NEU CP) and US Commercial Paper. The Group has also access to a Syndicated Credit Facility and several bilateral credit facilities with the Group’s core banking partners for general corporate purposes.
A broad range of financing tools at our disposal
In certain special circumstances, (for instance: regulatory constraints, high country risk or partnership), the Group reduces its exposure by setting up a specific funding for its subsidiaries with local bank market.
Air Liquide diversifies its funding sources and spreads maturities over several years to minimize refinancing risks related to debt repayment schedules.
Additionally, the Group’s operations generate a regular cash flow that helps to reduce these risks.
At the end of 2018, the average maturity of the Group’s debt was 5.9 years, slightly under 2017 level.