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Rating Action:

Moody's assigns first-time A3 rating to Malaysia Airports

24 Feb 2011

Hong Kong, February 24, 2011 -- Moody's Investors Service has today assigned an A3 issuer rating to Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB). The rating outlook is stable. This is the first time that Moody's has assigned a rating to MAHB.

RATINGS RATIONALE

Given MAHB is 54% owned by Khazanah Nasional Berhad, an investment arm of the Government of Malaysia (A3/stable), Moody's applies its Joint Default Analysis approach for Government Related Issuers.

MAHB's A3 rating combines (1) its standalone Baseline Credit Assessment of 8, which is equivalent to the Baa1 level under Moody's Global Rating Scale; and (2) high support that Moody's believes the government would provide in the event that extraordinary financial support is required. This results in a one-notch uplift to the fundamental rating.

"MAHB's fundamental credit strengths are mainly underpinned by its position as a close-to-monopoly airport operator in Malaysia, where there is a track record of strong passenger traffic growth," says Elizabeth Allen, a Moody's Vice President and Senior Credit Officer.

"The cumulative average passenger growth rate of the last 10 years was 5.8% and in 2010 it was 12.7%. This is driven by a strong domestic economy, an attractive tourism sector and the expansion of the low-cost carriers (LCCs), whose presence in Kuala Lumpur in particular has stimulated demand," says Allen.

Furthermore, MAHB operates under a favorable regulatory framework which aims to protect the commercial viability of the country's airports, while allowing the government to pursue the goals of its social policies.

While the current operating agreements between MAHB and the government have only been in place since early 2009 and thus inhibit a short history, Moody's understands that both parties are committed to adhering to it, and there are no reasons to expect any material changes to the established framework.

The rating is further supported by MAHB's modest degree of financial leverage. Moody's expects debt/EBITDA to measure around 3-4x as MAHB undergoes the construction of a new LCC terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. At this level, MAHB's credit metrics would still compare well with Moody's other rated airports globally.

Offsetting these strengths are the challenges faced by MAHB, including 1) the completion of the new LCC terminal on time and within budget, 2) the concentrated nature of its exposure to two local airlines, Malaysian Airlines System Berhad (unrated) and AirAsia Berhad (unrated); and 3) potential expansion into land development and more airport investments overseas.

The stable outlook reflects anticipated steady passenger growth and incorporates the expectation that MAHB's credit metrics will weaken from their historical levels, but remain at levels appropriate for the rating.

Upward rating pressure is unlikely, given the rating is the same as that for the Government of Malaysia.

On the other hand, downward rating pressure could emerge if 1) the rating of the Government of Malaysia is lowered; 2) there are aggressive acquisitions into non-airport related businesses; and 3) there is significantly higher-than-expected capex due to cost over-runs on existing projects, or the undertaking of new projects. Credit metrics that would point towards a downgrade include debt/EBITDA above 4-4.5x.

The principal methodologies used in this rating were Operational Airports outside of the United States published in May 2008, and Government-Related Issuers published in July 2010.

MAHB is essentially a monopoly airport operator in Malaysia. It operates 5 international, 16 domestic and 18 regional short take-off and landing (STOL) airports under 25-year operating agreements. It also operates ancillary businesses in airport areas, including retail, rental, agriculture and hotels. It has minority airport investments in India, Turkey and Maldives. It has been listed on the Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad since 1999.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

Information sources used to prepare the credit rating are the following: parties involved in the ratings, parties not involved in the ratings, public information, and confidential and proprietary Moody's Investors Service information.

Moody's Investors Service considers the quality of information available on the issuer or obligation satisfactory for the purposes of assigning 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.

Hong Kong
Elizabeth Allen
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Hong Kong Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: (852) 3758 -1350
SUBSCRIBERS: (852) 3551-3077

Hong Kong
Gary Lau
MD - Corporate Finance
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Hong Kong Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: (852) 3758 -1350
SUBSCRIBERS: (852) 3551-3077

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Moody's assigns first-time A3 rating to Malaysia Airports
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