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Global Credit Research - 05 Oct 2010
Approximately $1.8 billion of long-term debt ratings affirmed
New York, October 05, 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service affirmed the Baa1 senior secured,
Baa3 senior unsecured and Issuer Rating, and Ba2 preferred stock
ratings of Ameren Illinois Company upon the closing of a corporate reorganization
combining Ameren's three Illinois utilities into one utility on
October 1, 2010. The reorganization was accomplished by merging
Central Illinois Light Company (AmerenCILCO) and Illinois Power Company
(AmerenIP) with and into Central Illinois Public Service Company (AmerenCIPS),
which has been renamed Ameren Illinois Company (AIC), conducting
business as "Ameren Illinois". The debt and other obligations of
AmerenCILCO, AmerenCIPS, and AmerenIP are now debt obligations
of AIC. The rating outlook of AIC is stable.
Moody's assigned a Baa3 senior unsecured bank credit facility rating
to three separate bank credit agreements totaling $2.1 billion
dated as of September 10, 2010 among Ameren and Union Electric Company
(Ameren Missouri, $800 million, the "Missouri
Credit Agreement"), Ameren and AIC (Ameren Illinois,
$800 million, the "Illinois Credit Agreement"),
and Ameren and Ameren Energy Generating Company ($500 million,
the "Genco Credit Agreement") and a bank group led by JPMorgan
Chase Bank, N.A. as Agent.
Moody's upgraded three issues of Union Electric Company pollution
control revenue bonds (Series 1998 A, B & C) totaling $160
million to A3 from Baa1 to reflect the security provided by utility first
mortgage bonds and the fact that the underlying rating on the bonds is
higher than that the rating of the financial guarantor.
All debt ratings of Ameren Illinois Company (including all debt of the
former Central Illinois Light Company, Central Illinois Public Service
Company, and Illinois Power Company); including its senior
secured debt at Baa1; senior unsecured debt and Issuer Rating at
Baa3; and preferred stock at Ba2.
Ameren/Ameren Missouri Credit Agreement -- Unsecured bank credit
facility rating of Baa3;
Ameren/Ameren Illinois Credit Agreement -- Unsecured bank credit
facility of Baa3;
Ameren/Ameren Energy Generating Credit Agreement -- Unsecured bank
credit facility of Baa3.
Union Electric Company Pollution Control Revenue Bonds 1998 Series A,
B, C rating to A3 from Baa1.
AIC's ratings reflect improved financial metrics exhibited by Ameren's
Illinois utility subsidiaries resulting from higher electric and gas delivery
service rates implemented in late 2008 and what Moody's had considered
to be an improving political and regulatory environment for Ameren in
Illinois. However, Moody's views the most recent Illinois
rate case outcomes as unsupportive of credit quality, which could
put pressure on the utility's financial metrics going forward,
although they are expected to remain adequate to support current ratings.
A rehearing of the rate cases is pending, with the Illinois Commerce
Commission (ICC) staff recently recommending an additional rate increase
of approximately $11 million, and a final decision due from
the ICC in November. The rate case outcomes have also renewed our
concern about political and regulatory risk for the company in Illinois
and the stability of AIC's ratings over the long-term is
highly dependent on the outcomes of future rate cases and the overall
regulatory environment for utilities in Illinois.
AIC maintains an adequate liquidity profile that was recently strengthened
on September 10, 2010 when Ameren and its three Illinois utility
subsidiaries entered into a new, three-year $800 million,
unsecured bank credit agreement, which is now available to AIC following
the reorganization. The credit facility is shared with the parent
company, which has a maximum borrowing capacity of $300 million.
In addition to this credit facility, AIC also participates in a
utility money pool arrangement with the parent, giving it access
to additional funds, if necessary.
As part of its Illinois utility corporate reorganization, Ameren
Energy Resources Generating Company (AERG, unrated) was transferred
from AmerenCILCO to Ameren Energy Resources Company, Ameren's
unregulated generation holding company. Ameren completed the reorganization
to better align its legal structure with its business segment structure,
to lower costs, and to generate operational and other efficiencies.
The rating outlook of AIC is stable reflecting Moody's expectation
that financial metrics will remain adequate to support its current ratings
and that political and regulatory risk for AIC will not increase significantly.
The most recent rate case outcomes should be sufficiently mitigated by
additional recovery resulting from the pending rehearing process and by
management actions to reduce costs and capital expenditures and should
not result in a material degradation of these financial metrics.
The stable outlook is contingent on future rate case outcomes being more
supportive of credit quality.
The AIC ratings could be raised if there is an improvement in the regulatory
and political environment for AIC in Illinois; if there are credit
supportive distribution rate case outcomes going forward; and if
financial metrics remain strong following the reorganization including
CFO pre-working capital interest coverage above 3.5x and
CFO pre-working capital to debt in the high teens on a sustainable
basis. Ratings could be lowered if future distribution rate cases
do not provide sufficient rate relief to maintain financial ratios;
if there is political intervention in the regulatory process; or
if rising costs and other factors put pressure on financial metrics including
CFO pre-working capital interest coverage below 3.0x and
CFO pre-working capital to debt below 15% for an extended
The principal methodologies used in rating these issuers were Regulated
Electric and Gas Utilities published in August 2009, and Global
Unregulated Utilities and Power Companies published in August 2009.
Other methodologies and factors that may have been considered in the process
of rating these issuers can also be found on Moody's website.
Ameren Corporation is a public utility holding company headquartered in
St. Louis, Missouri. It is the parent company of Union
Electric Company (Ameren Missouri), Ameren Illinois Company (Ameren
Illinois), Ameren Energy Generating Company, and AmerenEnergy
Resources Generating Company.
Information sources used to prepare the credit rating are the following:
parties involved in the ratings, parties not involved in the ratings,
public information, confidential and proprietary Moody's Investors
Service's information, confidential and proprietary Moody's
Moody's Investors Service considers the quality of information available
on the issuer or obligation satisfactory for the purposes of maintaining
a credit rating.
MOODY'S adopts all necessary measures so that the information it uses
in assigning a credit rating is of sufficient quality and from sources
MOODY'S considers to be reliable including, when appropriate,
independent third-party sources. However, MOODY'S
is not an auditor and cannot in every instance independently verify or
validate information received in the rating process.
Please see ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on Moodys.com
for the last rating action and the rating history.
The date on which some Credit Ratings were first released goes back to
a time before Moody's Investors Service's Credit Ratings were fully digitized
and accurate data may not be available. Consequently, Moody's
Investors Service 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 www.moodys.com
for further information.
Please see the Credit Policy page on Moodys.com for the methodologies
used in determining ratings, further information on the meaning
of each rating category and the definition of default and recovery.
Michael G. Haggarty
Senior Vice President
Infrastructure Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
William L. Hess
MD - Utilities
Infrastucture Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
Moody's Investors Service
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
No Related Data.
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