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Rating Action:

MOODY'S UPGRADES LONG-TERM DEBT RATINGS OF THOMSON SA (SR. TO A3); SHORT-TERM RATING CONFIRMED AT PRIME-2

08 Feb 2002
MOODY'S UPGRADES LONG-TERM DEBT RATINGS OF THOMSON SA (SR. TO A3); SHORT-TERM RATING CONFIRMED AT PRIME-2

Approximately €800 Million of Debt Securities Affected.

New York, February 08, 2002 -- Moody's Investors Service upgraded the long-term debt rating of Thomson SA (SA) to A3 from Baa1and confirmed the short-term rating at Prime-2. Moody's said that this action reflects the company's reduced debt levels, while the market values of SA's assets in operating companies Thales and Thomson Multimedia (TMM) have remained high. The rating action also incorporates the ongoing 100% ownership by the French Government and the expectation that, despite the absence of any explicit support for SA, the French government will act to ensure that SA will continue to meet its financial obligations in the near-term. Nevertheless, the rating agency also noted that, over time, the French authorities will continue the program of privatizations, and that the current function of SA as an intermediate holding vehicle for the French government's interests in Thales and TMM may be subject to change.

Moody's added that SA's rating outlook is stable, and this is predicated on the expectation that the government's ownership will not change materially in the near future and that, if SA sells assets, the proceeds will be directed towards the payment of its debt.

Ratings upgraded are:

Thomson SA- its senior debt rating to A3 from Baa1 and its MTN program rating to A3 from Baa1.

Thomson-Brandt International B.V.--its guaranteed senior debt rating to A3 from Baa1.

According to Moody's, SA's debt levels have been reduced materially to € 0.8 billion at the end of 2001, down from € 1.8 billion at the end of 1999. This reduction derived from the proceeds of a sale of TMM stock in year 2000. Market values of SA's interests in Thales and TMM, on the other hand, have remained high, and, as of January 30, 2002, amounted to about € 5.2 billion, equal to six times coverage of outstanding debt..

Nevertheless, Moody's views SA's cash flows as moderate relative to its cash requirements. Cash sources include dividends from Thales and some interest income derived from its deposits. Its cash outlays include interest on outstanding debt, which generally exceed the amount of financial income. Outstanding commercial paper as of the end of December amounted to € 265 million, while SA's cash position totaled € 160 million. Its debt maturities include the payment of €265 million due in 6/03 and €229 million due 3/04. Thus, current cash-flow needs, along with a relatively short-term maturity profile, suggest that debt refinancing, and potentially new borrowings will be needed unless the company further monetizes its interests in Thales and TMM.

Beyond its financial measurements, Moody's stated that SA's debt rating is heavily influenced by the company's position as a 100% owned entity of the French government. Through SA, the French state maintains its 38% interest in TMM and its 32% interest in Thales. Although the French government does not guarantee or explicitly support obligations of SA, Moody's expects that the government will act to ensure that the company meets its near-term obligations. The rating is positioned below that of the French government because of the likelihood that the current structure of SA could change as the state's program of privatization continues.

Moody's also noted that SA's alternate liquidity is supported by its €122.5 million revolving credit facility, due March 2003, and its € 150 million credit facility, expiring in January 2003. These are used as CP back-up facilities. Both credit facilities include MAC clauses but no financial covenants. One of the company's bank facilities includes a put under the condition that the market value of its investments in Thales and TMM will be less than 80% of the book value of the total assets of SA, which is an unlikely event in Moody's opinion.

Thomson SA, headquartered in Paris, France, is a holding company.

New York
Michael J. Mulvaney
Managing Director
Corporate Finance
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

New York
Tassos Philippakos
Senior Vice President
Corporate Finance
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

No Related Data.
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