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Announcement:

Moody's changes Veolia's outlook to stable from negative

18 Apr 2011

Approximately EUR18 billion rated debt securities affected

London, 18 April 2011 -- Moody's Investors Service has today changed to stable from negative the outlook on the A3 senior unsecured ratings of Veolia Environnement SA ('Veolia' or 'the Group').

RATINGS RATIONALE

Moody's says that the outlook change follows the Group's solid operating performance in 2010 when both turnover and operating cash flow recovered following declines in 2009. The stable outlook takes into account firmer underlying economic conditions and the prospect of continued modest operating cash flow growth for the Group overall, even if certain areas of the business -- such as water in France - will continue to experience pressure on volumes and margins. It also factors in management's stated intent to continue its focus on organic growth and generation of free cash flow after dividend payments, and therefore assumes that the Group's leverage profile should continue to improve.

The stable outlook factors in Moody's estimate of growth in adjusted operating income in 2011 at the lower end of Veolia's 4%-8% targeted range, and assumes delivery on cost savings of at least EUR250 million and an improvement in adjusted operating margin from the 5.9% achieved in 2010. Moody's also assumes that Veolia's investment strategy will continue to be premised on organic growth rather than large acquisitions and that the Group will calibrate planned annual capex of EUR4 billion over 2011-13 according to cash generated from operations, and progress on the total EUR4 billion of asset disposals planned over the period. In the event that organic growth were to fall short of plan Moody's assumes Veolia would moderate investment accordingly such as to ensure that the Group continues to be free cash flow positive.

The A3 rating incorporates management's intent to improve Veolia's financial flexibility by growing cash generation. Notwithstanding the Group's guidance leverage range of 3.85x-4.35x, Moody's notes that net debt/operating cash flow at end-2010 was 3.65x. In stabilising the outlook for the rating Moody's assumes that, consistent with management's stated intent to grow operating cash flow and maintain debt unchanged at end-2010 levels, Veolia's cashflow leverage profile will show further permanent improvement. As such no large debt-funded acquisition is factored into the rating.

The stable outlook therefore assumes that Veolia's cash flow leverage metrics continue to strengthen in excess of 15% for retained cash flow (RCF)/net debt and towards 20% for funds from operations (FFO)/net debt from the 15.1% and 18.6% respectively achieved in 2010. Negative pressure would develop on the A3 rating in the event that operating performance shortfalls or increased investments versus plan were to cause RCF/net debt to decline below 15% on a sustainable basis.

Velolia's ratings were assigned by evaluating factors that Moody's considers relevant to the credit profile of the issuer, such as the company's (i) business risk and competitive position compared with others within the industry; (ii) capital structure and financial risk; (iii) projected performance over the near to intermediate term; and (iv) management's track record and tolerance for risk. Moody's compared these attributes against other issuers both within and outside Veolia's core industry and believes Veolia's ratings are comparable to those of other issuers with similar credit risk.

Please see ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on Moodys.com for the last rating action and the rating history.

Headquartered in Paris, France, Veolia Environnement S.A. is the parent company of one of the world largest integrated environmental services and outsourcing groups. In 2010, the company reported revenues of EUR34.8 billion and operating income of EUR2.1 billion.

London
Niel Bisset
Senior Vice President
Infrastructure Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

London
Monica Merli
MD - Infrastructure Finance
Infrastructure Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's changes Veolia's outlook to stable from negative
No Related Data.
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