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Rating Action:

Moody's assigns P-1 rating to ABB Treasury Center (USA), Inc.'s new CP programme

27 Jul 2012

Frankfurt am Main, July 27, 2012 -- Moody's Investors Service has today assigned a Prime-1 (P-1) rating to ABB Treasury Center (USA), Inc.'s new USD 2.0 billion commercial paper (CP) programme. This programme carries an irrevocable and unconditional guarantee of parent company ABB Ltd. (A2 stable). At the same time, Moody's affirmed the A2 rating on ABB Treasury Center (USA), Inc.'s guaranteed senior debt and the P-2 rating on its existing CP programme, which is supported by a keepwell agreement. Moody's expects to withdraw the ratings on the existing program once the last outstanding CP issued under the existing USD 1.0 billion programme has been repaid. The outlook on the ratings is stable.

RATINGS RATIONALE

Today's P-1 rating assignment is underpinned by ABB Ltd guarantee for the new notes. ABB Ltd P-1 rating reflects (1) its strong financial and liquidity profile; (2) its relatively resilient performance throughout the recent economic downturn; and (3) Moody's anticipation that the group will, even in the likely event of further cash- or debt-financed external growth activities, continue to exhibit credit metrics that are in line with the A2 rating. Moody's ratings for ABB also take into account the group's strong business profile and the diversified nature of its operations.

The stable outlook on the ratings reflects ABB's solid positioning within the A2 rating category, which is supported by the group's strong liquidity position and capital structure. As with ABB's ratings, the stable outlook for ABB Treasury Center (USA), Inc. assumes that, even in the event of an industry downturn or following further cash- or debt-financed external growth activities, ABB will maintain credit metrics that are in line with those defined for the current rating level, as exemplified by a retained cash flow (RCF)/net debt ratio in the mid-40s in percentage terms (81% on a last-12-months basis as per March 2012). The metrics would need to be broadly maintained through periods of accelerated investment or M&A activity in order to maintain the current rating level, with only temporary undershooting during an integration phase. The stable outlook also assumes that ABB will carefully evaluate further external growth activities and continue to pursue a conservative financial policy.

Moody's notes that, after this debt restructuring, and once the existing USD 1.0 billion CP programme of ABB Treasury Center (USA), Inc. is effectively terminated, only ABB Capital B.V. and ABB Financial Services AB will continue to have short-term debt issuance programmes that are supported by a keepwell agreement and not by a guarantee. These two programmes are currently unused. Moody's rates the programme of ABB Capital B.V. P-2. While the keepwell agreement provides for a pari passu ranking of debt supported by guarantees (bank debt) and keepwell agreements (capital market debt) at the issuer level, it does not constitute a full legal guarantee of ABB Ltd. and is not directly enforceable by the noteholders. While Moody's believes that the provisions of these keepwell agreements reflect a high assurance of payment, the rating agency considers them as weaker in terms of timeliness, which is an important consideration for a P-1 rated company. ABB Treasury Center (USA), Inc.'s new programme addresses this concern and, as such, Moody's assigned a P-1 rating for issuances under the programme.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING -- UP

An upgrade of ABB Treasury Center (USA) Inc's A2 rating for guaranteed long-term debt is currently unlikely given the group's perceived appetite for further external growth activities. Going forward, however, Moody's would consider upgrading the rating if ABB were to sustainably maintain credit metrics that are commensurate with an A1 rating, such as an RCF/net debt ratio of around 50% and a free cash flow (FCF)/debt ratio above 20%.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING -- DOWN

Downward pressure on the rating could arise if (1) ABB were to fail to maintain adequate leverage metrics, as exemplified by an RCF/net debt ratio in the mid-40s in percentage terms; or (2) the group's profitability were to weaken, as exemplified by an EBITA margin sustainably in the low teens.

The principal methodology used in rating ABB Ltd was the "Global Heavy Manufacturing Rating Methodology", published in November 2009. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

Other methodologies and factors that may have been considered in the process of rating this issuer can also be found on Moody's website.

Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, ABB is a global leader in power and automation technologies, with 2011 revenues of USD38 billion.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

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 www.moodys.com.

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Alex Verbov
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
An der Welle 5
Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Matthias Hellstern
Managing Director
Corporate Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
An der Welle 5
Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's assigns P-1 rating to ABB Treasury Center (USA), Inc.'s new CP programme
No Related Data.
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