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Announcement:

Moody's affirms Poste Italiane's Aa2 rating and outlook

Global Credit Research - 28 Oct 2010

Approximately EUR750 million of rated debt affected

Milan, October 28, 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service has today affirmed Poste Italiane SpA (PI) long- and short-term issuer ratings of Aa2 and P-1, respectively; and the Aa1 senior unsecured rating on the EUR750 million bond guaranteed by the Italian government. The outlook remains stable.

"The affirmation of PI's ratings reflects Moody's expectation that despite the declining nature of the mature Mail business and the potential threat following the liberalisation of the postal market in Italy, expected by January 2011 according to the latest EU directive, PI will maintain solid credit metrics going forward" says Paolo Leschiutta, a Moody's Vice President--Senior Analyst and lead analyst for PI. "Moody's expects a degree of deterioration in the company's profitability over the coming years, but nonetheless recognises PI's historical ability to compensate for the declining performance of its mail division by launching new products and growing its financial services business," adds Mr. Leschiutta.

PI's ratings are assessed in accordance with Moody's rating methodology for government-related issuers (GRIs). The group's Aa2 rating reflects the combination of the following inputs:

- A Baseline Credit Assessment (BCA) of 6 (on a scale of 1 to 21, where 1 represents the lowest credit risk and 6 equates to A2)

- The Aa2 domestic currency rating of the Italian government

- Moderate dependence

- High support

PI's BCA reflects the medium business risk profile of the group due to the increasing risk of PI's postal activities, given (i) the expected full liberalisation of the Italian postal market after January 2011 which is likely to result in additional competition, (ii) the increasing use of e-mail and internet that reduce the use of traditional mail and (iii) the high fixed costs of the division. PI's BCA, however, is also supported by the low business risk profile of its financial services division, as BancoPosta does not pursue lending activities and counterparty and credit risks for asset investments are limited to the Italian and other EU governments, as well as the expectation that group key credit metrics will remain in line with a mid single-A rating category.

In Moody's view, PI's current key financial ratios (as adjusted by Moody's) provide a degree of comfort to the existing BCA, with the group's financial leverage, measured as Debt/EBITDA, at 1.8x and Retained Cash Flow (RCF) to Debt above 30%. Going forward, Moody's would expect the deterioration in key metrics to be limited but downward pressure on the BCA could be exerted in case of a significant deterioration in the group's operating profitability as evidenced by the EBIT margin dropping towards the low teens and the financial leverage, on a Debt/EBITDA basis, increasing above 2.5x. In addition, Moody's might consider lowering the BCA if PI's free cash flow remained negative on a ongoing basis.

Conversely, although upside potential is currently limited, positive pressure on PI's BCA could develop following a successful implementation of the investment programme, resulting in sustained profitability improvements in the Mail division and the company's success in weathering the ongoing liberalisation, maintaining stable volumes and market share. A rating upgrade could be considered only if RCF to Debt remains comfortably above 30% and Debt to EBITDA remains comfortably below 2x on an ongoing basis together with a track record of positive results at the Mail division and positive free cash flow generation. An upgrade of the BCA would not trigger in any case an upgrade of PI's ratings which are already at sovereign rating level. The final rating of PI could be downgraded following a variation in Moody's perception of the support and dependence levels currently built into the rating or a lowering of the sovereign rating. Finally Moody's will also monitor any change in business risk profile of the group following a potential development of the Banca del Mezzogiorno.

The high support currently assigned to PI recognises: (i) the current ownership of PI; (ii) the likelihood that the government would intervene to help the group in case of distress in order to avoid significant reputational, economic and social repercussions; (iii) the importance for the government of PI's financial services activity; and (iv) the fact that, under the Italian civil code, the state is liable without limitation for all obligations of the group contracted before December 2003. In addition, despite the recent change in the state's shareholding, Moody's understands that the government does not intend to privatise PI in the short term, and a potential partial privatisation of the group is not currently factored into the rating. The moderate dependence assigned to PI reflects the fact that the group generates nearly all its earnings in Italy and is therefore highly dependent on the development of the Italian economy.

The last rating action on PI was implemented on 23 June 2005, when Moody's upgraded the company's rating to Aa2 following the introduction of Moody's GRI methodology.

The principal methodology used in rating PI was Moody's "Postal and Express Delivery Companies Rating Methodology", published in December 2008 and available at www.moodys.com in the Ratings Methodologies sub-directory under the Research & Ratings tab. Other methodologies and factors that may have been considered in the process of rating this issuer can also be found in the Ratings Methodologies sub-directory on Moody's website.

Headquartered in Rome, Italy, PI is the country's leading postal service operator, providing the delivery of mail, as well as express courier, parcel and logistics services in Italy (SDA Express Courier), mass mail printing (Postel) and philately. The company has a universal service obligation (USO) to provide comprehensive postal services. It operates a branch network of nearly 14,000 post offices and is one of the largest employers in Italy, with in excess of 150,000 employees.

Milan
Paolo Leschiutta
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Italia S.r.l
Telephone:+39-02-9148-1100

London
Paloma San Valentin
MD - Corporate Finance
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's Italia S.r.l
Corso di Porta Romana 68
Milan 20122
Italy

Moody's affirms Poste Italiane's Aa2 rating and outlook
No Related Data.
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