Net leverage ratio
At the occasion of the December 2018 Capital Markets Day, we reconfirmed our leverage framework, maintained at 3.5x to 4.5x Net Total Debt to Consolidated Annualized EBITDA ("net total leverage"). In absence of any material acquisitions and/or significant changes in our business or regulatory environment, we intend to stay around the 4.0x mid-point through an attractive and sustainable level of shareholder disbursements. At December 31, 2019, our net total leverage reached 4.0x, which was stable versus versus September 30, 2019 and represented a modest decrease versus 4.1x at the end of 2018. The modest year-on-year decrease in our net total leverage was mainly driven by a robust cash flow generation throughout the year and was achieved despite an attractive shareholder remuneration pay-out in 2019, including €101.0 million of share repurchases and a €62.8 million gross intermediate dividend.
Our net covenant leverage, as calculated under the 2018 Amended Senior Credit Facility and which excludes lease-related liabilities and vendor financing-related short-term liabilities, was 3.2x at December 31, 2019. This was stable versus the prior quarter and represented a decrease from 3.4x end-2018. Our current net covenant leverage ratio is significantly below the springing maintenance covenant of 6.0x and the incurrence test of 4.5x net senior leverage.
For a reconciliation of both our net total leverage and net covenant ratio as per December 31, 2019, we refer to the Q4 2019 Investor & Analyst Toolkit.
- Net total leverage is defined as the sum of all of the Company's short-term and long-term liabilities minus cash and cash equivalents ("Net Total Debt"), as recorded in the Company's statement of financial position, divided by the last two quarters' Consolidated Annualized EBITDA. In its statement of financial position, Telenet's USD-denominated debt has been converted into € using the December 31, 2019 EUR/USD exchange rate. As Telenet has entered into several derivative transactions to hedge both the underlying floating interest rate and exchange risks, the €-equivalent hedged amounts were €2,041.5 million (USD 2.3 Term Loan AN) and €882.8 million (USD 1.0 billion Senior Secured Notes due 2028), respectively. For the calculation of its net leverage ratio, Telenet uses the €-equivalent hedged amounts given the underlying economic risk exposure.
- Net covenant leverage is calculated as per the 2018 Amended Senior Credit Facility definition, using Net Total Debt (using the €-equivalent hedged amounts for its USD-denominated debt as highlighted above), excluding (i) subordinated shareholder loans, (ii) capitalized elements of indebtedness under the Clientele and Annuity Fees, (iii) any finance leases entered into on or prior to August 1, 2007, (iv) any indebtedness incurred under the network lease entered into with the pure intermunicipalities and (v) any vendor financing-related liabilities, divided by last two quarters’ Consolidated Annualized EBITDA including certain unrealized cost synergies related to the BASE and SFR Belux acquisitions.