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Rating Action:

MOODY'S RAISES RATINGS OF SBC COMMUNICATIONS (SR. Aa3) AND AFFILIATES; AMERITECH TELEPHONE COMPANY RATINGS REDUCED

07 Oct 1999
MOODY'S RAISES RATINGS OF SBC COMMUNICATIONS (SR. Aa3) AND AFFILIATES; AMERITECH TELEPHONE COMPANY RATINGS REDUCED Moody's Investors Service has raised the long-term debt ratings of SBC Communications Inc. (SBC) and its affiliates following the announcement that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the company's merger with Ameritech Corporation subject to the conditions imposed by the regulatory agency. Concurrently, Moody's has downgraded the long-term debt ratings of Ameritech's operating telephone company subsidiaries and confirmed the debt ratings of Ameritech Corporation. The SBC review was initiated on April 23, 1999 in anticipation of this forthcoming decision from the FCC.


These ratings actions are based on the decision by the FCC on October 6, 1999 to approve the SBC-Ameritech merger subject to thirty conditions designed to further open the local markets to competition, stimulate the deployment of advanced broadband services, and expand the merged company's competitive reach outside of its thirteen state service area. Moody's believes that these conditions are balanced, and as such, should not materially impact financial performance or the company's strategic positioning over the intermediate term.


The combination of the two companies provides substantial diversification benefits. These result from not only the increase in the number and geographic expanse of telephone operating properties that the larger company controls but also from the strengthened business position that the combined non-traditional telephone assets provides in terms of scale and scope in an increasingly competitive environment. With a total of over 57 million access lines, the company is the largest local phone company in the United States and consists of three of the original seven Regional Bell Holding Companies; Southwestern Bell Corporation, Pacific Telesis, and Ameritech.


The Aa2 average rating for the telephone operating subsidiaries reflects Moody's view of the strategic importance of these operations as a group and our expectation that an increasing level of centralization and consolidation of the key functions that support these subsidiaries, including network planning and strategic marketing, will take place. Moody's notes that the ratings for the telephone operating subsidiaries reflect an anticipation of strong cash flow generation at these entities in spite of an increasing interest by alternative providers to serve the local market. The ratings for Pacific Bell reflects the challenges facing this unit, in terms of both reducing costs and growing revenues in a competitive California environment.


The ratings upgrades are:

SBC Communications Inc.'s senior unsecured debt, upgraded to Aa3 from A1; shelf registrations, upgraded to (P)Aa3 from (P)A1; and the company's counterparty rating upgraded to Aa3 from A1;

SBC Communications Capital Corporation's senior unsecured debt, upgraded to Aa3 from A1; shelf registration, upgraded to (P)Aa3 to (P)A1; and the company's counterparty rating upgraded to Aa3 from A1.

Pacific Telesis Financing I, II, III's preferred stock, upgraded to "aa3" from "a1"; preferred stock shelf registration, upgraded to (P)"aa3" from (P)"a1" to reflect the legal support that flows from SBC Communications.

Southwestern Bell Telephone Company's senior unsecured debt, upgraded to Aa2 from Aa3;

Pacific Bell Telephone Company's senior unsecured debt, upgraded to Aa3 from A1;

Pacific Telephone & Telegraph Company's senior unsecured debt, upgraded to Aa3 from A1;

Southern New England Telecommunications Corporation's senior unsecured debt, upgraded to Aa3 from A1;

Southern New England Telephone Company's senior unsecured debt, upgraded to Aa2 from Aa3; and the company's counterparty rating upgraded to Aa2 from Aa3;

Comcast Cellular Communications, Inc.'s senior unsecured debt, upgraded to A1 from A2 to reflect the strategic importance of these wireless holdings to SBC;

Comcast Cellular Holdings Inc.'s senior unsecured debt, upgraded to A1 from A2.


The ratings downgraded are:

Illinois Bell Telephone senior secured debt issues, downgraded to Aa1 from Aaa; senior unsecured debt issues, downgraded to Aa2 from Aa1; and senior unsecured debt shelf registration, downgraded to (P)Aa2 from (P)Aa1;

Indiana Bell Telephone Company senior unsecured debt issues, downgraded to Aa2 from Aa1; and senior unsecured shelf registration downgraded to (P)Aa2 from (P)Aa1;

Michigan Bell Telephone Company senior unsecured debt issues, downgraded to Aa2 from Aa1; and senior unsecured shelf registration, downgraded to (P)Aa2 from (P)Aa1;

Ohio Bell Telephone Company senior unsecured debt issues, downgraded to Aa2 from Aa1; and

Wisconsin Bell, Inc. senior unsecured debt issues, downgraded to Aa2 from Aa1; and senior unsecured shelf registration, downgraded to (P)Aa2 from (P)Aa1.


In addition, the ratings confirmed are:

Ameritech Corporation's Aa3 issuer rating;

Ameritech Capital Funding Corporation's senior unsecured debt, rated Aa3; shelf registration of debt securities, rated (P)Aa3, and its Aa3 issuer rating;

Ameritech New Zealand Funding Corporation's cumulative mandatory redeemable preferred stock, rated "aa3";

Ameritech Savings and Security Plan Trust for Non-Salaried Employees guaranteed LESOP loan, rated Aa3; and

Ameritech Savings Plan Trust for Salaried Employees guaranteed LESOP loan, rated Aa3.



The Prime-1 ratings assigned to the short-term borrowing obligations of Ameritech Corporation, SBC Communications Inc., SBC Communications Capital Corporation, and Ameritech Capital Funding Corporation are confirmed.


SBC Communications, Inc. is headquartered in San Antonio, Texas and Ameritech Corporation is headquarterd in Chicago, Illinois.



No Related Data.
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