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Rating Action:

Moodys Affirms NV Nuon's A2/P-1 Ratings Following Merger Announcement

02 Feb 2007
Moodys Affirms NV Nuon's A2/P-1 Ratings Following Merger Announcement

London, 02 February 2007 -- Moody's Investors Service today affirms the A2/P-1 ratings of nv Nuon and its guaranteed finance subsidiary Nuon Finance BV. The outlook is stable. At the same time it changes the outlook to stable from negative on the A3 issuer rating of Nuon Power Generation BV. This follows the announcement that Nuon is proposing to enter into an all-equity merger with Essent NV(A2 stable).

Moody's believes that the proposed merger will create a strong Dutch group, EssentNuon NV, better placed to compete in the North European energy market. The current ratings affirmations also reflect the commitment by the new group to maintain a strong financial profile. Both Nuon and Essent have been through a significant deleveraging and the proposed group should therefore be able to absorb the payment of extra dividends of Eur 600million and Eur 300million by Essent and Nuon respectively, in advance of the merger.

At the same time, Moody's recognises that there are a number of issues that need to resolved before there is full clarity with regard to both the future structure and the financial and business profile of the new entity. The affirmation of the ratings assumes that these issues will be solved with no significant negative impact on the credit strength of Nuon and factors in the current strong credit profile of the company. These issues include:

(i) Approval by the Dutch competition authorities, the NMA. They are likely to impose a number of remedies, with the aim of reducing combined generating capacity in the intermediate term - although this does not necessarily imply a forced sale - as the openness of the Dutch market is expected to increase over time.

(ii) Cross-border leases: the companies believe that the new group structure as currently proposed, with a new top holding company, can be implemented without triggering any cross-border leases. This nonetheless remains a concern for the agency, although in most instances likely to be a fairly remote one.

(iii) The future structure of the group, including the location and amount of debt and the free movement of cashflows within it, are also likely to be influenced by the outcome of further discussions with the DTE regarding the extent to which the network companies need to be ringfenced from the commercial operations.

(iv) Future strategic direction: Once a merged entity has been approved and established, the new group is likely to consider further strategic acquisitions, or alliances, within North Western Europe beyond those contained in current capex plans. This could increase debt levels or change the future risk profile of the group although Moody's notes that the new group will continue to maintain conservative financial targets. No reduction of public ownership is foreseen in the medium term.

The outlook is currently stable. Nuon has a strong financial profile for its current rating which provides significant flexibility. Positive pressure could develop on the rating over time as and when there is a satisfactory resolution to the issues noted, if the new entity were to retain a very strong financial profile consistent with a higher rating. Moody's would however take into account the group's financial and business strategic aspirations and group structure at that time.

Whilst no downward pressure on the ratings is currently envisaged, this could occur if there was a significant releveraging of the company, a major change in business risk profile or a significant change in group structure.

The outlook on Nuon Power Generation BV's A3 issuer rating is changed from negative to stable. This reflects (i) the risk that this entity would be divested as a result of forced unbundling has been removed (ii) it is likely to form a core part of the new group's generation activities. The rating on this entity is one notch lower than its parent reflecting its slightly high risk profile compared with that of the combined vertically-integrated group.

Nv Nuon is the second largest vertically-integrated energy company based in the Netherlands. As at FYE 2005 it had revenues of Eur5billion.Nuon Power Generation BV is a wholly owned subsidiary of nv Nuon and is owner and operator of a number of Nuon's power plants. As at FYE 2005 it had revenues of Eur465million.

Essent NV is the largest vertically integrated energy company based in the Netherlands. As at FYE 2005 it had revenues of Eur 6.3billion.

London
Stuart Lawton
Managing Director
European Corporates
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

London
Helen Francis
VP - Senior Credit Officer
European Corporates
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

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