Standard & Poor's, Frankfurt, Germany
Director of the Sovereigns / International Public Finance

Thomas Fischinger is a Director of the Sovereigns / International Public Finance Team at Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services in Frankfurt, Germany since 2004.

He specializes in Credit Ratings for Governments as well as government-related entities like mass transport systems enterprises worldwide, as analyst his geographical focus is on Germany, Switzerland and Austria. He also participated in the development of the methodology for ratings on mass transit enterprises.

Prior to joining Standard and Poor’s Thomas was a Lecturer at University of Applied Sciences (Idstein) and an Analyst with Economic Research Department of Commerzbank AG.

Thomas holds a Master Degree in Economics from Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration.

Presentation Abstract

Standard & Poor’s credit ratings express our opinion about the ability and willingness of an issuer to meet its financial obligations in full and on time. We rate more than a douzend Public Transport companies worldwide, based on criteria specially developed for transport companies due to the sector’s specifics, which has significant differences to gerenal corporates.

The ratings increase transparency for investors in infrastructure debt and help companies to raise funds from banks and other investors to fund their investments. From the perspective of creditworthiness, the mass transit sector enjoys unique strengths but also shows specific weaknesses compared to the general corporate sector. The strenghts of the sector include the high essentiality of transit systems and generally high service quality, with virtually no competing transit providers, the enduring demand for transit through economic cycles, which leads to high certainty with regard to fare revenues, and the financial flexibility driven by generally low fares and autonomous fare-raising ability. On the other hand, the sector faces specific challenges and risks like the capital intensive nature of the operations, the limited ability to accumulate large cash reserves, given infrastructure needs and political pressure to keep fares affordable, and the generally break-even nature of overall financial operations. Standard & Poor's criteria therefore focuses on these areas when assigning a rating to a mass transit company, for example by adapting key financial ratios to the specific requirements of mass transit and reflecting the specifics of the sector in its analysis.

In addition to specific criteria, some mass transit companies, especially in Europe, benefit from the expectation that a related local government might provide extraordinary support to the company in case of need. In these cases, the rating of a mass transit company is based on the companies stand-alone creditworthiness and additionally takes into account the government’s creditworthiness, based on our assessment of the likelyhood of support from the government for the mass transit company. In Europe, the ratings for mass transit companies tend to be largely investment grade. 

Congress & Exhibition: 

Parallel Session 17 – Through the looking glass: Risk management in Public Transport

Uncertainties and complexities engrained in public transport system management are important challenges faced by Public Transport operators. This perception on risks and their significance can be seen in other sectors and industries, where companies with more mature risk management practices tend to outperform their peers financially.