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Rating Action:

MOODY'S ASSIGNS Baa2 RATING TO USINOR'S PROPOSED EURO 500 MILLION 7-YEAR BOND WHILE CONTINUING THE REVIEW OF USINOR'S RATINGS FOR LONG TERM DEBT. PRIME-2 SHORT TERM RATING CONFIRMED.

22 Mar 2001
MOODY'S ASSIGNS Baa2 RATING TO USINOR'S PROPOSED EURO 500 MILLION 7-YEAR BOND WHILE CONTINUING THE REVIEW OF USINOR'S RATINGS FOR LONG TERM DEBT. PRIME-2 SHORT TERM RATING CONFIRMED. Moody's Investors Service today assigned a Baa2 rating to Usinor's proposed EUR 500 Million Bond maturing in 2008 and places the rating under review for possible upgrade. The review for possible upgrade of Usinor's long term Baa2 debt ratings announced on February 20th, 2001 to evaluate the impact of the intended merger with Arbed and Aceralia, continues. The company's Prime-2 short-term rating is confirmed.


The proposed bond is being issued to refinance near term maturities of existing Usinor debt. The company has been centralising its debt at parent company level, where already 85% of group borrowings reside, mitigating the structural subordination of bonds to debt at subsidiary companies. During the proposed merger with Arbed and Aceralia, we expect Usinor to ensure that its existing rated debt will rank largely pari-passu with the unsecured liabilities of its partners, in case debt is being transferred to the combined new entity. However, the bond also benefits from a put option in case creditworthiness would deteriorate through such a transaction.


The ongoing rating review focuses on the cost saving potential (announced EUR 300 Million in 2003 rising to EUR 700 Million p.a. in 2006) associated with plant rationalisation in the flat carbon business, purchasing synergies and other benefits including reduction in overhead and transfer of best practises and know-how. In addition, synergies in capital expenditures are expected to provide savings of approximately EUR 350 Million p.a. Potential implementation problems, management capacity and delays in achieving these synergies are also been reviewed. Furthermore Moody's is assessing the company's future positioning in its home market Europe and evaluating its approach to global strategic opportunities, which might present themselves in the currently depressed market environment.


The merger, subject to regulatory approval, would create the world's largest steel company with total sales of approximately EUR 29 Billion and leading market positions, especially in the flat carbon steel and stainless steel segment.


Usinor is Europe's largest steel company by revenues with a strong concentration in the flat carbon steel market. The company has its head office in Paris, France and reported sales of approximately EUR 15.7 Billion for the year ended 31 December 2000.



Arbed Group is headquartered in Luxembourg and generated sales of approximately EUR13.2 Billion for financial year 2000.


Aceralia Group of Spain, which is 35% owned by Arbed, had sales of EUR 3.3 Billion in 1999.


No Related Data.
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