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Moody's Disclosures on Credit Ratings of Rank Group plc (The)

23 Dec 2011

London, 23 December 2011 -- Moody's maintains the following ratings on Rank Group plc and its following affiliates:

Long-Term Corporate Family (foreign currency) rating of B1

Probability of Default rating of B1

Rank Group Finance plc

BACKED Senior Unsecured (foreign currency) ratings of B3; 85 - LGD5


Rank's B1 corporate family rating (CFR) reflects the company's position as a leading UK gaming operator with entrenched industry positions in bingo and casinos. The rating is tempered by a challenging operating environment with consumer confidence generally subdued across Europe and new smoking bans that are negatively affecting the company's Belgian and Spanish operations. The rating is also constrained by the company's relatively high leverage, as adjusted by Moody's, that includes sizeable operating lease liabilities.

Rank's ratings are supported by the progress it has made towards stabilizing its operational performance combined with a stated commitment to continue reducing leverage. At the end of H1 2011, adjusted leverage had been further reduced to 4.0x from 4.8x at year end 2010 following the receipt of further value added tax (VAT) refunds.

In November, the European Court of Justice ruled in favour of Rank in its long-running dispute with HMRC, which allows Rank to keep around GBP250 million of the GBP280 million in VAT refunds it received from earlier UK court rulings. HMRC can still file a claim on the remaining GBP30 million, which relates to the taxation of slot machines in the same VAT case. The ruling is credit positive because it enables Rank finally to unlock the funds and engage in growth activities, such as expanding its G Casino estate ahead of schedule. In addition, the company could use the funds to build up its online brand by updating and marketing Rank Interactive. These investments would bolster the company's position in its core sectors and allow it to compete effectively against rivals with online platforms that have benefitted from heavier expenditure over the past few years. In our view, the company is unlikely to use the proceeds to pay a special dividend. For one thing, that would be out of line with its previous public statements and it goes against the prudent financial policy that Rank and Guoco Group (its largest shareholder) have been following.

In addition, Moody's does not expect the change in ownership or management earlier this year to impact Rank's strategy as Guoco Group has historically been supportive of the company's business and financial strategies. The rating therefore reflects our expectation that Rank will continue to maintain a prudent financial policy and preserve an adequate liquidity profile at all times, including the prompt refinancing of upcoming debt maturities.

The B3/LGD5 rating for the USD 14.3 million guaranteed notes due 2018 issued by Rank Group Finance Plc is rated two notches down from the CFR, reflecting the structural subordination to the company's syndicated bank facilities, which have the benefit of upstream guarantees from the company's major operating subsidiaries.

Rank's stable outlook reflects a steadier performance of the Bingo operations, and the company's operating profitability which remains well positioned at the current rating level. The stable outlook also incorporates our expectations that Rank will continue to maintain its reported net leverage in the 2.5x range as previously communicated by management. Although adjusted leverage has dropped from 5.3x in H1 2009 to 4.0x in H1 2011, the sustainability of credit metrics at improved levels still needs to be proven for positive pressure to develop on the rating in the wake of resumption of dividends, an active capex programme and the new ownership by Guoco Group.

Upward pressure on the rating could arise if Rank succeeds in halting the trend of declining attendances in Mecca bingo on a sustainable basis, while at the same time maintaining its solid performance in Grosvenor Casinos; with continuation of free cash flow generation and Moody's adjusted leverage falling to 4.5x.

Negative pressure on the rating could arise if the positive trends of revenue stabilization cannot be maintained or if liquidity concerns are not promptly addressed. Downward pressure of the ratings would also emerge if adjusted leverage were to move towards 6.0x or above.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was the Global Gaming Industry Methodology published in December 2009. Other methodologies used include Loss Given Default for Speculative-Grade Non-Financial Companies in the U.S., Canada and EMEA published in June 2009. Please see the Credit Policy page on for a copy of these methodologies.

With headquarters in Maidenhead, England, Rank is a predominantly UK-based gaming group with interests in casinos, bingo, and interactive online gaming. Rank reported revenues of GBP580 million for the 12 months ended 30 June. Rank Group Finance plc is Rank's fully-owned and guaranteed subsidiary.


For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides relevant regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides relevant regulatory disclosures in relation to the rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides relevant regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on

The rating has been disclosed to the rated entity or its designated agent(s) and issued with no amendment resulting from that disclosure.

Information sources used to prepare the rating are the following : parties involved in the ratings and confidential and proprietary Moody's Investors Service information.

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Moody's Investors Service may have provided Ancillary or Other Permissible Service(s) to the rated entity or its related third parties within the two years preceding the credit rating action. Please see the special report "Ancillary or other permissible services provided to entities rated by MIS's EU credit rating agencies" on the ratings disclosure page on our website for further information.

Please see the ratings disclosure page on for general disclosure on potential conflicts of interests.

Please see the ratings disclosure page on for information on (A) MCO's major shareholders (above 5%) and for (B) further information regarding certain affiliations that may exist between directors of MCO and rated entities as well as (C) the names of entities that hold ratings from MIS that have also publicly reported to the SEC an ownership interest in MCO of more than 5%. A member of the board of directors of this rated entity may also be a member of the board of directors of a shareholder of Moody's Corporation; however, Moody's has not independently verified this matter.

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Please see ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on for the last rating action and the rating history. The date on which some ratings were first released goes back to a time before Moody's ratings were fully digitized and accurate data may not be available. Consequently, Moody's provides a date that it believes is the most reliable and accurate based on the information that is available to it. Please see the ratings disclosure page on our website for further information.

Please see for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Lynn Valkenaar
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Paloma San Valentin
MD - Corporate Finance
Corporate Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's Disclosures on Credit Ratings of Rank Group plc (The)
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