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Rating Action:

MOODY'S ASSIGNS A2 RATING TO SENIOR UNSECURED BONDS GUARANTEED BY ANA-AEROPORTOS DE PORTUGAL, S.A.; OUTLOOK STABLE

14 Jun 2004
MOODY'S ASSIGNS A2 RATING TO SENIOR UNSECURED BONDS GUARANTEED BY ANA-AEROPORTOS DE PORTUGAL, S.A.; OUTLOOK STABLE

Approximately EUR50 million of Long-Term Debt Instruments Rated

London, 14 June 2004 -- Moody's Investors Service has today assigned an A2 rating to the EUR50 million Guaranteed Fixed Rate Bonds due 2014 (the Bonds) to be issued by ANAM-Aeroportos e Navegacao Aerea da Madeira, S.A. (ANAM), which are unconditionally and irrevocably guaranteed by ANA-Aeroportos de Portugal, S.A. (ANA). Moody's has also assigned an A2 Issuer Rating to ANA. The rating outlook of ANAM and ANA is stable. This is the first time Moody's has assigned a public rating to ANA and ANAM.

The A2 rating reflects (1) ANA's status as the sole concessionaire for operating the network of Portuguese civil airport infrastructure and manager of the airports of the Madeira Islands (concession granted to ANAM), (2) its diverse and relatively stable revenue profile, and (3) its modest profitability on a consolidated basis and weak alternate liquidity but reasonable cash flow generation. The 100% indirect ownership of ANA by the Republic of Portugal (Aa2, stable) provides a two-notch rating uplift reflecting the ownership's value in terms of comfort on future rate setting and planning issues, and value in easing access to the debt markets.

The A2 Issuer Rating is Moody's opinion of ANA's ability to honour senior unsecured financial obligations and contracts. The ANA guarantee of the Bonds is a senior unsecured obligation of ANA. ANAM holds the concession for the airport system in the Autonomous Region of Madeira (Aa3, stable) and is in turn 70% owned by ANA, 20% by the Autonomous Region of Madeira and 10% by the Republic of Portugal (RoP).

The A2 senior unsecured rating of ANA reflects the pari passu unsecured nature of substantially all of ANA's indebtedness. Although just over 50% of ANA's consolidated debt resides in ANAM (all of which is currently guaranteed by RoP), and given that ANAM accounts for only a small percentage of ANA's consolidated revenues and cash flow, the amount of consolidated debt at ANAM does not create material structural subordination for the holders of ANA debt.

The stable rating outlook reflects Moody's expectation that ANA will continue to manage its capital expenditure programme successfully, and that revenues and cash flow will grow moderately over the medium term. This should enable ANA to service its larger debt levels at the assumed rating level. Furthermore, Moody's does not expect that ANA will be wholly or partially privatised in the short to medium term. In the longer term, there is more uncertainty given that, at some stage over the next 3-5 years, RoP will need to consider how future airport capacity in the Lisbon area will be built and owned. Consequently, the prospect of privatisation will inevitably be raised again when government reconsiders the case for a new airport for Lisbon.

ANA's rating may be pressured by a deterioration in its alternate liquidity position or a deterioration in profitability that pushed FFO Interest Cover materially below 4 times and Adjusted RCF to Net Adjusted Debt substantially below 12-15%. In addition, Moody's notes that any tangible moves towards whole or partial privatisation will pressure the rating, given the two-notch uplift for Government ownership which is incorporated into the current rating. ANA's rating is likely to be constrained at the current level until ANA's current capital expenditure programme is successfully completed (projected to be 2006).

ANA's management of all of the major Portuguese airports provides it with a solid franchise in a growth industry. Given ANA's low level of transfer traffic and relatively diversified exposure to individual airlines, growth in the Portuguese air travel market should result in increased revenues, although a significant fall-off in tourist travel to Portugal would negatively impact ANA. Nevertheless, given Portugal's geographic location, air travel is likely to remain a vital transport mode for Portugal, which should prove an effective underpinning for revenues. Moody's expects ANA's relative revenue stability and asset base to shield ANA from one-off revenue shocks that may have a more pronounced impact on other airport companies.

ANA exhibits weak, and in recent periods declining, profitability as fixed costs are relatively high, particularly labour costs, and revenue generation opportunities at the airports are not yet maximised. The recent decline in profitability measures has been caused by increased depreciation charges following the roll-out of new capacity (in particular at Funchal, Madeira) and additional non-cash pension charges that have been required since 2000. Looking ahead, Moody's believes that ANA's consolidated profits will be constrained by the weak profitability of the Madeira airports, although management intends to improve revenue yield at all the airports and expects operating profit margins to improve as the recent increased capacity begins to benefit from higher volumes. Furthermore, ANA has reasonable cash flow, as airport charges have been set at levels intended to cover a material percentage of capital expenditure incurred to fund increased capacity as well as maintain existing capacity.

ANA has moderate debt leverage which is expected to increase somewhat as the current capital expenditure commitments are undertaken. However, unless revenues fall substantially, debt protection measures should not deteriorate significantly. In any event, if this were to occur, ANA's charges could be increased with the agreement of the Portuguese Institute of Civil Aviation and the Government through the annual charge-setting process.

ANA's alternate liquidity predominantly comprises committed banking facilities with very short-term commitments from major Portuguese banks (although these are renewed regularly) and some cash on hand. ANA is consequently exposed to the loss of the short-term banking commitments. However, ANA's existing ownership should assist in maintaining ANA's access to debt markets. Nevertheless, if ANA were to be privatised, Moody's cautions that it would need to reconsider its liquidity profile to maintain an appropriate financial cushion commensurate with an investment-grade company.

ANA does not have any significant off-balance-sheet debt obligations nor does it have any rating-trigger-related provisions in any financial or contractual documentation. However, ANA does have a financial covenant in its EIB loan documentation, and this covenant is currently being met.

Following this rating action, the ANA group of companies will have the following rated debt outstanding:

- ANAM-Aeroportos e Navegacao Aerea da Madeira, S.A.: EUR50 million Guaranteed Fixed Rate Bonds -- A2.

- ANA-Aeroportos de Portugal, S.A.: Issuer Rating -- A2.

ANA - Aeroportos de Portugal S.A. manages and operates all the major Portuguese civil airports, had total assets of EUR1033 million as at 31 December 2003, and earned pre-tax profits of EUR 23.6 million for year-end 2003. ANAM-Aeroportos e Navegacao Aerea da Madeira, S.A. is 70% owned by ANA and owns the concession for the airport system in the Autonomous Region of Madeira.

London
Stuart Lawton
Managing Director
European Corporates
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

London
Andrew Blease
VP - Senior Credit Officer
European Corporates
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

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