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Rating Action:

MOODY'S ATTRIBUE UNE PREMIERE NOTATION PREVISIONNELLE Baa1 (P) SENIOR A LONG TERME A BEGHIN-SAY ET A L'INTENTION DE RETIRER LES NOTATIONS Baa1 et PRIME-2 D' ERIDANIA-BEGHIN-SAY

31 May 2001
MOODY'S ATTRIBUE UNE PREMIERE NOTATION PREVISIONNELLE Baa1 (P) SENIOR A LONG TERME A BEGHIN-SAY ET A L'INTENTION DE RETIRER LES NOTATIONS Baa1 et PRIME-2 D' ERIDANIA-BEGHIN-SAY Paris, May 31, 2001 -- Moody's Investors Service attribue les notations prévisionnelles Baa1 (P) senior à long terme et Prime-2 (P) à court terme à Béghin-Say. L'agence annonce, au même moment, qu'elle compte retirer les notations d'Eridania-Béghin-Say (EBS) qui avaient été placées sous surveillance le 30 novembre 2000, après la finalisation de sa scission. La nouvelle notation de Béghin-Say suppose la finalisation, selon les termes annoncés, des opérations proposées par EBS aux actionnaires et porteurs d'obligations.
La notation reflète le caractère faiblement cyclique et la forte capacité d'autofinancement du groupe dans un contexte européen très protégé contre les fluctuations et le bas niveau des prix du sucre sur le marché international. La notation intègre également le caractère cyclique des niveaux d'endettement, particulièrement élévés en fin d'année, et le fait que cette dette sert en grande partie à financer des stocks dont la valeur est garantie par le prix d'intervention de l'UE. Même si l'activité sucre génère des cash flow significatifs, la notation de Béghin-Say tient compte d'une moindre diversification de ses activités et de ses cash-flows par rapport à EBS. La notation reflète également certaines incertitudes sur les conséquences du nouveau Régime Sucrier récemment approuvé en Conseil des Ministres Européens. La perspective est négative.
Les notations Baa1 senior et Prime-2 à court terme d'EBS et de ses filiales garanties avaient été placées sous surveillance pour abaissement possible en novembre 2000, suite à l'annonce par le groupe de son intention de scinder ses activités en quatre entités juridiques distinctes axées sur ses principaux métiers, à savoir : les divisions sucre et dérivés, amidon et dérivés, oléagineux, huiles alimentaires, protéines et lécithines, et nutrition animale. Ce projet sera soumis à l'approbation des Actionnaires en juin 2001 ainsi qu'aux porteurs d'obligations émises par EBS. Moody's estime que ce projet de scission en quatre entités distinctes sera approuvé, d'autant que Montedison est actionnaire majoritaire.

Après la mise en œuvre de ce projet, les notations d'EBS actuellement placées sous surveillance pour abaissement possible seront retirées. La société envisage de rembourser ses encours de billets de trésorerie au fur et à mesure de leurs échéances. La notation Prime-2 sera retirée lors de l'annulation du programme de billet de trésorerie. La majeure partie des encours obligataires d'EBS (y compris les EMTN) devraient être repris par Béghin-Say après la scission.
Moody's juge les activités de Béghin-Say en France parmi les plus rentables sur le marché européen du sucre grâce à ses fortes capacités de production pour chacun des 9 sites, supérieures à 10 000 tonnes/jour (avec notamment l'unité enregistrant la plus grande capacité de production au monde). Béghin-Say bénéficie par ailleurs en France de conditions agronomiques favorables pour la culture de la betterave et enregistre des rendements parmi les plus élevés d'Europe. Béghin-Say occupe une position de premier plan sur le marché français avec 1/3 de la production. Toutefois, ses activités en Italie restent peu rentables malgré le processus de restructuration en cours. Il est à noter cependant, que les conditions d'exploitation en Italie sont moins favorables et que l'on ne peut, dès lors, pas s'attendre à ce que l'Italie puisse un jour afficher une rentabilité comparable à la France. Béghin-Say est le deuxième producteur en Europe avec un quota réglementé de 1,9 Million de tonnes (soit 13% du quota européen total). Béghin-Say détient par ailleurs des marques parmi les plus importantes sur les marchés de bouche français, italien et hongrois. Béghin-Say possède également une raffinerie de canne à sucre en France et des unités de production d'alcool en France et Italie. Le résultat opérationnel de Béghin-Say provient essentiellement de ses activités françaises de sucre de betterave.
La nouvelle réglementation sucrière européenne entrera en vigueur le 1er juillet 2001 pour une durée de 5 ans, sachant que des amendements seront possibles, si nécessaires, après 2 ans. Mis à part des réductions de quotas limitées pour respecter les engagements auprès de l'OMC, le principal changement pour les producteurs de sucre européens concerne la suppression du système de compensation des coûts de stockage. Moody's estime que cela pourrait affecter la marge opérationnelle de Béghin-Say, même si le groupe est confiant sur sa capacité à répercuter les coûts de stockage (pour Béghin-Say, environ EUR 35 Millions/an, dont 8 pour l'export) aux consommateurs finaux européens. En effet, cela n'impliquerait pas vraiment de hausse des prix pour les consommateurs car le système est financé par une contribution de ces derniers. Moody's juge que conserver les marges dans le secteur de détail pourrait donc être possible mais les producteurs de sucre européens risquent d'avoir plus de mal à résister aux pressions des grands clients industriels et perdront par ailleurs les compensations sur le sucre exporté hors d'Europe. A l'avenir, le cadre réglementaire ne s'annonce pas aussi favorable que par le passé compte tenu des engagements de l'UE auprès de l'Organisation Mondiale du Commerce mais aussi de l'ouverture du marché aux pays moins développés qui pourrait, à long terme, dégrader les conditions de marché au sein de l'UE. L'intégration probable des pays d'Europe de l'Est dans l'UE risque également d'affecter celles-ci, même si l'on ignore encore, à ce stade, si l'impact sera significatif, notamment au niveau du prix d'intervention, lequel n'est pas pour l'instant modifié.
Globalement, Moody's juge négative la perspective à long terme de l'industrie du sucre en Europe, même si cette évolution devrait être lente. Moody's estime que la possible diversification dans la canne à sucre, par le biais d'un investissement actuellement envisagé au Brésil, ainsi que les activités de taille modeste du groupe en Hongrie, ne contrebalancent que faiblement l'exposition au marché de l'Union Européenne. Toutefois, la décision prise sur le Régime Sucrier présente l'avantage de limiter les incertitudes pour les 5 prochaines années et élimine notamment le risque d'une libéralisation rapide du marché européen. La notation Baa1 part de l'hypothèse d'une amélioration à terme de la structure financière et des ratios d'endettement, équilibrant ainsi l'impact d'une possible réduction de la capacité d'autofinancement dans le futur pour les activités dans l'Union Européenne. Cette notation n'intègre pas d'éventuelles acquisitions d'envergure financées par de la dette.
L'impact éventuel de la suppression du système de compensation des coûts de stockage ainsi que les incertitudes liées à l'intégration des activités devant être acquises au Brésil et celles liées aux mesures prises pour améliorer la rentabilité des activités en Italie sont reflétées dans la perspective négative.

Les notations suivantes ont été attribuées :
Béghin-Say : Baa1 (P) pour le programme d'EMTN et toutes les émissions existantes de celui-ci.
Béghin-Say : Baa1 (P) pour ITL 350 Milliards d'Euronotes échéance 2004.

Les notations suivantes seront retirées après la finalisation des opérations envisagées :
EBS : Baa1 pour les Eurobonds, Euronotes, et le programme de Medium Term Note en euro, Prime-2 pour le Papier Commercial.
Cerestar USA Inc. : Baa1 pour les Notes senior garanties.
Cerestar USA Inc. : Baa1 pour les obligations industrielles garanties (Industrial Revenue Bonds).
EBS SA/NV : Prime-2 pour le Papier Commercial garanti par EBS.


Basé à Neuilly, France, Béghin-Say est un opérateur européen de premier plan dans la transformation de sucre de betterave. Son chiffre d'affaires pro-forma était de 1,9 Milliard d'Euros en 2000.
No Related Data.
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