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Rating Action:

MOODY'S DOWNGRADES MARUBENI CORPORATION'S CREDIT RATINGS: RATING OUTLOOK NEGATIVE

26 Feb 2002
MOODY'S DOWNGRADES MARUBENI CORPORATION'S CREDIT RATINGS: RATING OUTLOOK NEGATIVE

Approximately $11.4 Billion of Debt Securities Affected

Tokyo, February 26, 2002 -- Moody's Investor's Service has lowered the Ba3 senior debt rating of Marubeni Corporation to B1. The unsecured senior debt rating of its supported subsidiaries has also been lowered to B2 from B1. This rating action concludes the review initiated on November 9, 2001. The rating outlook is negative reflecting the uncertainty associated with the de-scaling process of large debt-ridden companies in the current operating environment.

This rating action reflects Moody's view that Marubeni's projected restructuring efforts may not significantly reduce its overall business risk profile, characterised by intensive use of its balance sheet by its various business divisions represented by Development/Construction and Plant/Ship Divisions. Rather, the major drivers of Marubeni's asset reduction programs continue to be a run-off of maturing debt securities investments, a renewed emphasis on collection and securitisation of its account receivables and long-term receivables, and off-balance sheet treatment of current associated debts in connection with the planned integration of its steel products related-business with Itochu Corporation. Moody's views the major purpose of asset reduction is more geared to meet forthcoming re-financing requirements for its existing large bonds issues rather than to achieve significant reduction in its current risk profiles in a timely manner. Consequently, while recognising the benefits of its recent efforts to realistically adjust the true value of its assets, the basic risk profile of Marubeni as a large debt financed trading company with a weak level of debt creditor protection remains unchanged.

The implementation of advance risk management and measurement infrastructure by management and the introduction of a risk management culture is a significant plus to the future of its still diverse businesses, and may significantly impact Marubeni's selection of future core businesses. However, Moody's believes the achievement of effective balancing of internal capitalisation against assumed risks will take extended period of time and require continued retention of internally generated earnings, as well as further successful risk reduction.

Marubeni's targeted net profit figure for FYE 3/2003 is based on projected contributions from improved troubled business investments, and extensive expense reduction initiatives. Moody's expects contribution from such initiatives as expense reduction are realistic as they are manageable and a natural effort to realign its cost structure in relation to generally low added value. However, Moody's is still concerned about the future economic value of large under-performing assets inside and outside Japan, which Marubeni continues to carry on its balance sheet, and their heightened level of sensitivity to deteriorating operating environment, and their possible impact on projected earnings.

Also, Marubeni's ability to pursue and accelerate projected restructuring plans is heavily dependent on the capacity of the Japanese banking system to support such plans over the medium term. Like other trading companies, Marubeni's recently pursued strategy to transform its franchise from shrinking margin businesses to higher return business investment activities has become increasingly unsustainable in the current deflationary and credit contraction environment. Moody's does not overtly question the short-term stability of banking system support from main Japanese lenders to Marubeni as indicated in the establishment of large commitment line. However, as access to public debt markets is currently closed, Marubeni would continue to require a long-term dependence on this factor if it is to achieve substantial risk reduction over the medium term without disruption. In this regard, Moody's considers that the financial and management flexibility of Japanese bank management is declining, since they are saddled with a large number of excess debt ridden borrowers. Moreover, there will be increasingly tougher regulatory scrutiny of Japanese banks' lending exposure to Japanese trading companies.

The following ratings were downgraded:

Marubeni Corporation--the senior debt rating to B1 from Ba3

Marubeni Finance Holland B.V.--the senior debt rating to B2 from B1

Marubeni International Finance Plc--the senior debt rating to B2 from B1

Marubeni Europe Plc--the senior debt rating to B2 from B1

Tokyo
Brian Oak
Managing Director
Rating Group
Moody's Japan K.K.
JOURNALISTS: (03) 5408-4110
SUBSCRIBERS: (03) 5408-4100

Tokyo
Suzuki, Mutsuo
Senior Vice President
Rating Group
Moody's Japan K.K.
JOURNALISTS: (03) 5408-4110
SUBSCRIBERS: (03) 5408-4100

No Related Data.
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