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Rating Action:

Moody's changes outlook on Iberdrola's Baa1 ratings to stable from negative; affirms ratings

08 Apr 2015

London, 08 April 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service has today changed to stable from negative the outlook on the Baa1 issuer rating of Iberdrola S.A. (Iberdrola or "the group").

At the same time, Moody's stabilised the outlook on the Baa1 senior unsecured ratings of guaranteed subsidiaries Iberdrola International B.V., Iberdrola Finance Ireland Limited and Iberdrola Finanzas, S.A.U., and Iberdrola International B.V.'s backed Baa3 junior subordinated debt rating.

Moody's has also stabilised the outlook on the Baa1 issuer rating of Iberdrola-owned Scottish Power Limited (Scottish Power) and the senior unsecured ratings of its subsidiaries; as well as the outlook on the Baa1 issuer ratings of Iberdrola USA and Iberdrola Renewables Holdings, Inc..

At the same time, Moody's has affirmed all of these ratings.

RATINGS RATIONALE

"Our decision to stabilise the outlook on Iberdrola's ratings primarily reflects the group's progress in restoring financial flexibility against the background of some improvement in the macroeconomic and regulatory backdrop in its core Spanish market. It also takes account of Moody's expectation that the group will continue to focus on completing delivery of its 2014-16 business plan. Although certain risks to profitability remain, and the recent UIL deal will slightly increase leverage, Moody's estimates that Iberdrola should nevertheless be able to carry out its plan while maintaining a financial profile consistent with guidance for the Baa1 rating," says Niel Bisset, a Moody's Senior Vice President and lead analyst for Iberdrola.

Iberdrola reduced debt levels in 2014 thanks to solid operating cashflow and the monetisation of a net EUR1.2 billion of regulatory receivables in Spain. These positive factors more than offset adverse foreign exchange movements, and had the effect of reducing reported net debt to EUR25.6 billion at end-2014 (or EUR25.3 billion if adjusted for the EUR275 million third dividend paid in December), from EUR26.6 billion at end-2013.

On a like-for-like basis, EBITDA increased by 3.1% to EUR6,965 million, with stronger performance in liberalised generation and stable earnings from networks offsetting weaker profitability of renewables, which was adversely affected by regulatory cuts in Spain. As a result, the group's financial flexibility overall improved in 2014, with fund from operations(FFO)/net debt recovering from 17.7% in 2013, to 19.6%, in line with guidance for the rating.

Today's action also takes account of an improving macro and regulatory backdrop in Spain. After five years of contraction or zero growth, Moody's forecasts the Spanish economy will grow at 1.6% in 2015, following estimated growth of 1.2% in 2014. This should underpin power demand, even if the correlation between GDP and electricity demand is weakening. The rating also factors in the series of fiscal and regulatory measures taken in 2012-14 which have effectively eliminated the structural imbalance between revenues and costs of the electricity system. In Moody's view these have reduced the likelihood of further heavy cuts to utilities' revenues, even if elements of regulatory reform have still to be fully finalised.

The group's Baa1 ratings are based on its scale and diversity which is reflected in leading positions across the energy `value chain' in many different markets and geographies. The wide range of businesses helps limit the negative effect on earnings from deterioration in any one business line or region. Earnings volatility is also mitigated by the gradual rise in contribution from regulated or contracted activities, which Moody's estimates accounted for approximately 70% of 2014 EBITDA. The planned merger of UIL Holdings Corporation (Baa2 stable) into the group will increase further the contribution from regulated networks, in line with the group's strategy.

The outlook stabilisation takes account that the group will continue to strengthen its capital structure in line with its financial targets for 2014-16, towards which it has made good progress - including net debt/EBITDA of 3.6x at end-2014, versus its target of less than 3.5x in 2016. It also factors in the group's emphasis on organic growth investment in renewables and networks, and improved operational efficiencies. In the event that any further potential inorganic investment were to be made, Moody's expects that would be financed in a manner which did not prejudice the group's maintenance of Moody's guidance for the Baa1.

The stable outlook factors in Moody's expectation that credit metrics should strengthen further in 2015, and become more comfortably positioned against guidance for the Baa1 rating, which includes FFO/net debt of around 20% and retained cash flow (RCF)/net debt in the mid-teens.

RATIONALE FOR AFFIRMATION OF SCOTTISH POWER

The affirmation of Scottish Power's ratings follows that of Iberdrola's, its 100% parent. Scottish Power's ratings take account of (i) its position as a vertically integrated utility in the UK, whose operations include regulated networks, generation, trading and supply activities, and the UK arm of Iberdrola's renewables businesses; as well as (ii) its solid financial profile.

The ratings are aligned with those of Iberdrola, reflecting its core position within Iberdrola's growth and diversification strategy and its close integration within the larger group, as evidenced by (i) a centralised cash management system through Iberdrola group treasury, and (ii) Iberdrola's ability to determine the debt structure of subsidiaries and move cash around the group.

RATIONALE FOR AFFIRMATION OF IBERDROLA USA and IBERDROLA RENEWABLES HOLDINGS

The affirmations of the ratings of Iberdrola USA (IUSA) and Iberdrola Renewables Holdings, Inc. (IRHI) follow that of Iberdrola, their ultimate parent. IUSA's rating reflects its strong relationship with its parent company. Additionally, IUSA's conservatively levered capital structure and a 50/50 regulated/unregulated business mix is producing strong cash flow which supports its Baa1 rating and stable outlook.

IRHI's Baa1 backed long-term issuer rating is primarily based on a Guarantee and Support Agreement (G&SA) from Iberdrola S.A.; however, as a standalone entity, IRHI's credit profile exhibits investment grade-like characteristics, as well. For example, IRHI is financed through parent equity infusions and tax equity investments, allowing for a robust financial profile derived from mostly contracted wind generation.

AFFECTED RATINGS:

Affirmations:

..Issuer: Iberdrola S.A.

.... Issuer Rating, Affirmed P-2

.... Issuer Rating, Affirmed Baa1

....Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Affirmed (P)Baa1

..Issuer: Iberdrola Finance Ireland Limited

.... BACKED Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Affirmed (P)Baa1

.... BACKED Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: Iberdrola Finanzas, S.A.U.

.... BACKED Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: Iberdrola International B.V.

.... BACKED Junior Subordinated Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Baa3

.... BACKED Senior Unsecured Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-2

.... BACKED Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Affirmed (P)Baa1

.... BACKED Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: Scottish Power Limited

.... Issuer Rating, Affirmed Baa1

....Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Affirmed (P)Baa1

..Issuer: Scottish Power UK Holdings Ltd.

.... Issuer Rating, Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: Scottish Power UK plc

.... Issuer Rating, Affirmed P-2

.... Issuer Rating, Affirmed Baa1

.... Short-Term Rating, Affirmed P-2

....Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Affirmed (P)P-2

....Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Affirmed (P)Baa1

.... BACKED Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Affirmed (P)Baa1

.... BACKED Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: ScottishPower Energy Management Limited

.... Issuer Rating, Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: ScottishPower Energy Retail Ltd

.... Issuer Rating, Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: ScottishPower Finance (US), Inc.

.... BACKED Issuer Rating, Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: ScottishPower Generation Ltd

.... Issuer Rating, Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: ScottishPower Investments ltd

.... Issuer Rating, Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: SP Distribution plc

.... Issuer Rating, Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: SP Manweb plc

.... Issuer Rating, Affirmed Baa1

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: SP Transmission Ltd

.... Issuer Rating, Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: SPD Finance UK plc

.... BACKED Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: IBERDROLA RENEWABLES Holdings, Inc.

.... BACKED Issuer Rating, Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: Iberdrola USA

.... Issuer Rating, Affirmed Baa1

Outlook Actions:

..Issuer: Iberdrola S.A.

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: Iberdrola Finance Ireland Limited

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: Iberdrola Finanzas, S.A.U.

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: Iberdrola International B.V.

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: Scottish Power Limited

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: Scottish Power UK Holdings Ltd.

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: Scottish Power UK plc

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: ScottishPower Energy Management Limited

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: ScottishPower Energy Retail Ltd

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: ScottishPower Finance (US), Inc.

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: ScottishPower Generation Ltd

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: ScottishPower Investments ltd

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: SP Distribution plc

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: SP Manweb plc

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: SP Transmission Ltd

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: SPD Finance UK plc

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: IBERDROLA RENEWABLES Holdings, Inc.

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

..Issuer: Iberdrola USA

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATING UP/DOWN

Iberdrola's ratings could be upgraded in the event that macroeconomic and operating conditions were to strengthen more than expected such that profitability and cash flow growth were to result in a sustainable improvement in the group's financial profile -- as would be reflected in credit metrics including FFO/net debt in the mid-20s in percentage terms, and RCF/net debt in the high teens.

The ratings could be downgraded if recent deleveraging momentum were to be reversed whether because a significant downturn in the company's operating environment and performance, or higher than expected debt-funded investment were to result in a deterioration in the group's financial profile such that FFO/net debt and RCF/net debt weakened to the mid to upper-teens and low double digits in percentage terms respectively.

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in rating Iberdrola S.A., Iberdrola Finance Ireland Limited, Iberdrola Finanzas, S.A.U., Iberdrola International B.V., Scottish Power Limited, Scottish Power UK Holdings Ltd., Scottish Power UK plc, ScottishPower Energy Management Limited, ScottishPower Energy Retail Ltd, ScottishPower Finance (US), Inc., ScottishPower Generation Ltd, ScottishPower Investments ltd, SP Distribution plc, SP Manweb plc, SP Transmission Ltd and SPD Finance UK plc was Unregulated Utilities and Unregulated Power Companies published in October 2014.

The principal methodologies used in rating IBERDROLA RENEWABLES Holdings, Inc. and Iberdrola USA were Regulated Electric and Gas Utilities published in December 2013, and Unregulated Utilities and Unregulated Power Companies published in October 2014.

Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of these methodologies.

Headquartered in Madrid, Spain, Iberdrola S.A., is one of the world's leading energy providers. It reported group turnover of approximately EUR30 billion and EBITDA of approximately EUR7 billion in 2014.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides certain 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 certain 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 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 rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this 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.

The person who approved Iberdrola S.A., Iberdrola Finance Ireland Limited, Iberdrola Finanzas, S.A.U., Iberdrola International B.V., Scottish Power Limited, Scottish Power UK Holdings Ltd., Scottish Power UK plc, ScottishPower Energy Management Limited, ScottishPower Energy Retail Ltd, ScottishPower Finance (US), Inc., ScottishPower Generation Ltd, ScottishPower Investments ltd, SP Distribution plc, SP Manweb plc, SP Transmission Ltd and SPD Finance UK plc credit ratings is Monica Merli, MD-Infrastructure Finance, Infrastructure Finance Group, Journalists 4420 7772 5456, Subscribers 44 20 7772 5454.

The person who approved IBERDROLA RENEWABLES Holdings, Inc. and Iberdrola USA credit ratings is Larry Hess, MD-Utilities, Infrastructure Finance Group, Journalists 212-553-0376, Subscribers 212-553-1653.

The below contact information is provided for information purposes only. Please see the ratings tab of the issuer page at www.moodys.com, for each of the ratings covered, Moody's disclosures on the lead analyst and the Moody's legal entity that has issued the ratings.

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.

Niel Bisset
Senior Vice President
Infrastructure Finance Group
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

Monica Merli
MD - Infrastructure Finance
Infrastructure Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
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 outlook on Iberdrola's Baa1 ratings to stable from negative; affirms ratings
No Related Data.
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