April 20, 2018 / 9:46 AM / a month ago

Fitch cuts rating of Polish debt firm GetBack after shares crash

WARSAW, April 20 (Reuters) - Rating agency Fitch downgraded Polish debt collector GetBack by two notches late on Thursday adding to worries about the company’s outstanding $520 million (1.77 bln zlotys) debt after its shares lost nearly 90 percent of their value since October.

Investors’ concerns about the firm, controlled by private equity fund Abris, have dragging down shares of investment fund Quercus TFI that used to hold GetBack’s bonds.

Polish Parkiet daily estimated on Friday that up to 30,000 Polish retail investors might have exposure to GetBack’s bonds.

Fitch cut GetBack’s rating to B- from B+ saying the downgrade reflected uncertainty about GetBack’s access to funding. It said the rating “could be downgraded further given uncertainties with respect to its current liquidity position.”

GetBack Chief Executive Konrad Kakolewski was dismissed on Monday after the firm had said it was in talks to secure financing from Poland’s largest bank and a state fund, although both institutions denied this.

In response, trading in GetBack’s shares and bonds has been suspended since Monday at the request of Polish financial market regulator KNF.

GetBack officials were not immediately available for comment.

Polish investment fund Quercus TFI said on Thursday that GetBack missed a 5.5 million zloty ($1.63 million) payment on its bond. Quercus shares were still down 30 percent this month, even though the fund said it had sold all bonds and shares in GetBack it had owned.

GetBack debuted on the Warsaw stock exchange in July last year, with Abris selling part of its shares and retaining a 60 percent stake. GetBack’s balance sheet nearly doubled to 3 billion zlotys ($900 million) in the first nine months of 2017.

$1 = 3.3884 zlotys Reporting by Marcin Goettig Editing by Edmund Blair

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