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Rating Action:

MOODY'S UPGRADES AÉROPORTS DE MONTRÉAL TO A1 FROM A2 (SR. SEC.); STABLE OUTLOOK

13 Mar 2006
MOODY'S UPGRADES AÉROPORTS DE MONTRÉAL TO A1 FROM A2 (SR. SEC.); STABLE OUTLOOK

Approximately $1.1 Billion Of Debt Securities Affected

Toronto, March 13, 2006 -- Moody's Investors Service upgraded the rating of Aeroports de Montreal's (ADM) senior secured debt to A1 from A2. The rating outlook is stable. This concludes the review for possible upgrade, which was initiated on September 7, 2005.

The rating upgrade reflects the implementation of the federal government's revised ground lease rent formula, solid traffic growth, and the airport's continued strong market position. The implementation of the revised ground lease rent eliminates the significant challenge faced by ADM under its previous ground lease rent formula. ADM anticipates that the new rent formula will result in cash savings of approximately $100 million between 2006 and 2010, while providing ADM with much greater flexibility in funding its operations and capital expansion plans. ADM's passenger traffic continues to grow, increasing by about 5% in 2005, supported by the airport's key role in regional transportation infrastructure and the general recovery of air traffic volumes in Canada.

Moody's review considered ADM's capex plan for 2006-2010, with forecasted capital spending of approximately $570 million, including maintenance spending of approximately $110 million. Expansion and improvement spending of approximately $438 million (net of maintenance capex) is significant in relation to total revenues and debt but this amount is comprised of a number of discrete discretionary projects, each of which is subject to the prior approval of ADM's board. Moody's believes that final approval and outlays will be predicated upon reasonable prospects for market demand and revenue support for each project. Furthermore, ADM's forecast appears to be reasonably conservative in that partial offsets to the costs of some of the proposed projects could become available to ADM, but ADM has not included this potential upside in its financial forecasts. ADM expects to finance the capital expenditures with a combination of funds from operations and debt issuance.

ADM's forecasted capital expenditure figures do not include capitalized interest for its borrowings. ADM estimates that capitalized interest would add in the order of $20 million to the $570 million of capital expenditures during the forecast period. ADM's financial forecasts also do not include possible benefits that could result from restructuring of its municipal property tax formula. While ADM continues to have an active dialogue with the municipal tax authorities and is hopeful that it can achieve some measure to tax relief in 2006, the forecasts include an increasing property tax burden during the 2006-2010 period. During 2005, ADM's taxes were approximately $31 million, an increase of almost 30% over 2004 and almost 50% more than ADM paid in rent to Transport Canada during 2005.

In accordance with Moody's GRI rating methodology, the rating of ADM reflects the combination of Moody's assessment of ADM's baseline credit risk (3 on a scale of 1 to 6, where 1 represents the lowest credit risk), the Aaa local currency rating of the Government of Canada, as well as Moody's expectation of low dependence and low support.

The current baseline credit assessment of 3 is underpinned by the size and depth of the local air service market, ADM's unfettered ability to levy aeronautical rates and the Airport Improvement Fee (AIF), as well as ADM's revenue and passenger diversity. ADM services the second largest urban centre in Canada and the most important commercial centre in Quebec. The Montreal region has a large and diverse economic base.

ADM is a not-for-profit, non-share capital corporation that operates the Montreal-Trudeau (passenger) and Mirabel (cargo) airports in the Montreal region. ADM's head office is located in Montreal, Quebec.

New York
Daniel Gates
Managing Director
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Toronto
Allan McLean
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Canada Inc.
(416) 214-1635

No Related Data.
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