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27 Jan 2010
New York, January 27, 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service affirmed the Baa2 long-term debt rating
of the guaranteed subsidiaries of Bunge Ltd. (Bunge) and is maintaining
a negative rating outlook following the company's announcement that
it would sell its Brazilian nutrients business to Vale S.A.
for $3.8 billion. Bunge will divest the nutrients
portion of its fertilizer business in Brazil, while retaining the
retail operations there, as well as other fertilizer interests in
Argentina and Morocco. The sale is expected to close within 90
Bunge has indicated that it plans to use a portion of the proceeds for
debt reduction, while retaining cash to redeploy in its agribusiness
and food products operations. Moody's is maintaining a negative
rating outlook pending clarification on how much debt reduction will take
place as well as the transaction's impact on Bunge's earnings,
cash flow and liquidity profile. The company also plans to close
in the near future on the purchase of Moema Par, a Brazilian sugar
miller, for equity consideration of $670 million in newly-issued
Bunge stock and approximately $675 million of debt to be assumed.
Moody's views the Moema Par acquisition as beneficial to Bunge's
operational diversification and supported by the equity financing underlying
Moody's will assess the sustainability of Bunge's leverage
improvement in light of its strategy to grow and diversify operations
both organically and via acquisitions. While the potential for
debt reduction is substantial, the rating agency will also consider
the other planned uses of cash, Bunge's future cash flow,
capital spending and liquidity requirements excluding the nutrients business,
and the execution and successful integration of the Moema Par sugar and
Major indicators to stabilize Bunge's rating outlook will be a clear
trend of free cash flow generation (cash flow from operations less dividends
and capital spending), a sustainable lower leverage profile,
and the ability to manage normal working capital requirements that will
liquidate with the farming cycles and not be capitalized as long-term
The last rating action affecting Bunge Ltd. occurred on December
24, 2009, when Moody's changed the company's rating outlook
to negative from stable.
Bunge's ratings were assigned by evaluating factors we believe to be relevant
to the credit profile of the issuer, such as i) its business risk
and competitive position versus others within its industry, ii)
its capital structure and financial and liquidity risk profile,
and (iii) management's track record and tolerance for risk. These
attributes were compared against other issuers both within and outside
of Bunge's core agricultural processing and fertilizer operations where
Bunge's ratings are believed to be comparable to those of other issuers
of similar credit risk.
Bunge Ltd. is headquartered in White Plains, New York.
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
Moody's affirms Bunge Ltd. ratings with negative outlook
Thomas S. Coleman
Senior Vice President
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
No Related Data.
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