Fish Ratings Assigns ‘BBB+’ Rating to Bluefin Tuna 2021-1

Fish Ratings – Tokyo – 10 Jan 2021: Fish Ratings has assigned a rating of ‘BBB+’ to Bluefin Tuna 2021-1, the giant, overpriced fish that was issued in the Toyosu fish market’s ceremonial first auction of the year.

The senior unsecured fish weighed in at 208.4 kg and will constitute Toyosu’s direct, unconditional, unsecured and unsubordinated general obligation, ranking pari passu without any preference with all of the other Bluefin Tuna sold at the market. The fish will be distributed to Japanese seafood wholesaler Yamayuki, which won the auction with a bid of 20.84 million yen ($202,000) on 5 January 2021.

The ‘BBB+’ rating reflects the substantially lower price paid for the tuna this year compared to Bluefin Tuna 2020-1 (‘AA+’; Stable), which was priced at 193.2 million yen and issued to Kiyomura Corp in January 2020, and Bluefin Tuna 2019-1 (‘AAA’; Stable), which was priced at 333.6 million yen in 2019 and also issued to Kiyomura Corp.

Kiyomura Corp is the 100% direct owner of the high end Sushizanmai restaurant chain.

The proximate cause of the the dramatic drop in the bid for the prized tuna was lower demand as a result of measures intended to curb the Covid-19 pandemic in Japan.

However, the fact that it sold for only 10% of last year’s price also raises the question of whether the fish was ever really worth the astronomical amounts that were paid for its predecessors in prior years.

Fish Ratings notes, however, that although the pandemic has prompted what the agency considers to be a sensible reappraisal of the valuation of this fish asset (which is at least edible) apparent market bubbles in some questionable non-fish assets have continued to grow unabated. These assets fall outside of the scope of Fish Ratings’ methodology.

Bluefin Tuna 2021-1, which was caught off Oma in northern Japan, will count towards the Toyosu fish market’s total cash-absorbing capacity (TCAC) requirements, as it will be structurally subordinated to the liabilities of the market’s stallholders and chopped up into sushi for people who have more money than they know what to do with at the highly-rated Ginza Onodera restaurant.

Photo by Ys [waiz] (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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