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Rating Action:

Moody's assigns Aa2 rating to Abu Dhabi's $10 billion three tranche bond

01 Oct 2019

New York, October 01, 2019 -- Moody's Investors Service ("Moody's") has today assigned a Aa2 senior unsecured rating to the $10 billion, three tranche bond issued by the Government of Abu Dhabi (Aa2 stable) on September 23. The rating was initiated by Moody's Investors Service and was not requested by the rated entity.

The notes represent senior unsecured obligations of the government, ranking pari passu with all other outstanding obligations.

RATINGS RATIONALE

The Aa2 rating is at the same level as the long-term issuer rating of the Government of Abu Dhabi, which is supported by Abu Dhabi's "Very High (-)" economic strength derived from an exceptionally high GDP per capita, very large hydrocarbon reserves, and superior infrastructure. The rating also reflects the "High (+)" institutional strength, taking into account the emirate's strong institutional framework and effectiveness, which is counterbalanced by high inflation volatility and significant transparency issues.

Abu Dhabi's exceptionally strong balance sheet supports the "Very High (+)" fiscal strength score with assets worth an estimated 233% of GDP. Although the oil price shock drove the fiscal balance into deficit between 2015 and 2017, it has since moved close to balance largely due to higher oil prices. However, geopolitical factors elevate Abu Dhabi's event risk score to "Moderate (-)", with a closure of the Strait of Hormuz by Iran representing a low probability, high impact scenario. Since the US withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran in 2018 and the Trump administration reintroduced sanctions against Iranian individuals and companies, a series of confrontations have broken out in and near the Strait of Hormuz in 2019, elevating the risk of disruption to the Strait and increasing marine insurance costs. The exposure to regional geopolitical event risk is also reflected in the dispute between Qatar (Aa3 stable) and some of its neighbours, including the UAE (Aa2 stable), and the latter's military engagement in Yemen.

ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL, GOVERNANCE CONSIDERATIONS

In the case of Abu Dhabi, the materiality of ESG to the credit profile is as follows: As a major oil exporter, Abu Dhabi's environmental risks are predominantly derived from carbon transition. Under a Sustainable Development scenario of hydrocarbon demand, which assumes energy consumption and production patterns consistent with fulfilling sustainable development goals, Abu Dhabi's credit profile would face downward pressure, although only over the longer-term and with sizeable buffers in the form of ADIA's assets to provide support (see "Sovereigns -- Hydrocarbon exporters: Carbon transition manageable for most; significant credit pressure in event of more ambitious transition", 3 July 2018).

Social risks currently exert limited impact on Abu Dhabi's credit profile, although the effectiveness of labour market nationalisation policies in keeping unemployment low among citizens will remain an important consideration for the foreseeable future.

Governance risks in Abu Dhabi primarily relate to the lack of transparency on fiscal data and fiscal policy as well as poor disclosure on the financial performance and debt levels of government-related entities. Limited transparency over the size and composition of the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority's assets is also a consideration in our assessment.

WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATING UP/DOWN

Given that the instrument rating is tied to the long-term issuer rating of the Government of Abu Dhabi, the same factors and considerations apply.

Prospects of significant diversification of economic activity from hydrocarbons and an associated decline in the government's dependence on hydrocarbons revenues would likely prompt an upgrade of Abu Dhabi's rating. A more positive assessment of Abu Dhabi's creditworthiness would also involve greater transparency over fiscal policy and the size and composition of government assets, and declining contingent liability risks from government-related entities (GREs).

Conversely, a prolonged period of oil prices well below Moody's current assumptions would likely prompt a rating downgrade if not accompanied by effective measures to preserve the government's fiscal strength. A rising probability that large contingent liabilities posed by GREs may crystallise on the government's balance sheet would also likely prompt us to downgrade the rating.

GDP per capita (PPP basis, US$): 150,017 (2018 Actual) (also known as Per Capita Income)

Real GDP growth (% change): 1.9% (2018 Actual) (also known as GDP Growth)

Inflation Rate (CPI, % change Dec/Dec): 1.1% (2018 Actual)

Gen. Gov. Financial Balance/GDP: -0.1% (2018 Actual) (also known as Fiscal Balance)

Current Account Balance/GDP: [not available]

External debt/GDP: [not available]

Level of economic development: Very High level of economic resilience

Default history: No default events (on bonds or loans) have been recorded since 1983.

On 30 September 2019, a rating committee was called to discuss assigning a rating to the drawdown from the Global Medium Term Note Program issued by the Government of Abu Dhabi under Rule 144A in the US. The main points raised during the discussion were: The issuer's credit fundamentals and rating level, along with the terms and conditions of the instrument to be issued under the programme and the conclusion that this instrument would rank pari passu with other senior unsecured debt obligations of the Government of Abu Dhabi.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Sovereign Bond Ratings published in November 2018. Please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

The weighting of all rating factors is described in the methodology used in this credit rating action, if applicable.

The local market analyst for this rating is Thaddeus Best ,+971 (423) 795-06.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series, category/class of debt or security this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series, category/class of debt, security 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 certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the credit rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular credit rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain 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 www.moodys.com.

For any affected securities or rated entities receiving direct credit support from the primary entity(ies) of this credit rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this credit rating action, the associated regulatory disclosures will be those of the guarantor entity. Exceptions to this approach exist for the following disclosures, if applicable to jurisdiction: Ancillary Services, Disclosure to rated entity, Disclosure from rated entity.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

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

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

David Rogovic
VP - Senior Analyst
Sovereign Risk Group
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

Marie Diron
MD - Sovereign Risk
Sovereign Risk Group
JOURNALISTS: 852 3758 1350
Client Service: 852 3551 3077

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

No Related Data.
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