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Rating Action:

Moody's confirms Rio Tinto Group's (Rio Tinto) ratings (A3 Sr. Unsecured); Outlook Positive

01 May 2008
Moody's confirms Rio Tinto Group's (Rio Tinto) ratings (A3 Sr. Unsecured); Outlook Positive

Approximately $5.8 billion in rated debt securities affected

New York, May 01, 2008 -- Moody's Investors Service confirmed the A3 senior unsecured ratings of entities within the Rio Tinto Group, including Rio Tinto Alcan Inc. At the same time Moody's confirmed the Prime-2 short-term ratings of the rated entities within the Group. The outlook is positive.

This concludes the review of Rio Tinto's ratings (senior unsecured direction uncertain), short-term for possible upgrade) initiated on February 6, 2008 following BHP Billiton's unsolicited offer to acquire Rio Tinto in an all share transaction valued at approximately $146 billion (based upon the February 4, 2008 closing share prices of BHP Billiton Limited and BHP Billiton Plc).

On May 1, 2008 Moody's confirmed the A1 senior unsecured rating and Prime-1 short-term rating of BHP Billiton Ltd and its guaranteed subsidiaries. The outlook is negative.

Although Moody's expects development, if any, in this potential transaction will only materialize over an extended time frame and that regulatory reviews will be extensive, the positive outlook reflects our view that, should the transaction close as outlined, Rio's senior unsecured ratings could be upgraded by potentially two notches while the short-term rating could be upgraded to Prime-1. The positive outlook also captures the favorable market conditions for all of Rio Tinto's key business segments and the likelihood that earnings and cash generation in 2008 will comfortably exceed our expectations. Moody's expects this together with asset sales proceeds, $10 billion targeted for 2008, to contribute to Rio Tinto delevering meaningfully over the next twelve to fifteen months.

Rio Tinto's A3 senior unsecured rating captures the extensive business portfolio of the group's low-cost, long lived productive assets, which are providing strong earnings momentum in the current metal cycle, despite cost pressures and some production challenges in 2008 to date. Rio Tinto's performance also benefits from the operating diversity of its businesses, which are balanced between commodity exposures and negotiated price exposure, such as iron ore and coal, thereby softening the effect of cyclical swings in any particular commodity. The rating acknowledges Rio Tinto's considerable cash generation capacity and the intent of the company to delever following its acquisition of Alcan Inc, which closed in October 2007. Pro-forma for the Alcan acquisition, using Moody's standard adjustments, we estimate that leverage, as measured by the debt/EBITDA ratio, approximated 3.4x for 2007.

Rio Tinto Alcan's (formerly Alcan Inc.) ratings have been equalized at the A3 rating level of the rated entities within the Rio Tinto group although the debt instruments have not been guaranteed by Rio Tinto Limited or Rio Tinto plc under the dual listed structure. This is reflective of the group's historical practice of honoring debt at acquired companies and the strategic importance of this asset within the group business portfolio.

Issuer: Rio Tinto (Commercial Paper) Limited

..Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Changed To Positive From Rating Under Review

..Confirmations:

....Senior Unsecured Commercial Paper, Confirmed at P-2

Issuer: Rio Tinto (Commercial Paper) plc

..Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Changed To Positive From Rating Under Review

..Confirmations:

....Senior Unsecured Commercial Paper, Confirmed at P-2

Issuer: Rio Tinto Alcan Inc.

..Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Changed To Positive From Rating Under Review

..Confirmations:

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Confirmed at A3

Issuer: Rio Tinto America Inc.

..Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Changed To Positive From Rating Under Review

..Confirmations:

.... Issuer Rating, Confirmed at A3

....Senior Unsecured Commercial Paper, Confirmed at P-2

....Senior Unsecured Shelf, Confirmed at (P)A3

Issuer: Rio Tinto Canada Inc.

..Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Changed To Positive From Rating Under Review

..Confirmations:

....Senior Unsecured Commercial Paper, Confirmed at P-2

Issuer: Rio Tinto Finance (USA) Limited

..Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Changed To Positive From Rating Under Review

..Confirmations:

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Confirmed at A3

....Senior Unsecured Shelf, Confirmed at (P)A3

Issuer: Rio Tinto Finance Limited

..Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Changed To Positive From Rating Under Review

..Confirmations:

....Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Confirmed at A3

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Confirmed at A3

Issuer: Rio Tinto Finance plc

..Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Changed To Positive From Rating Under Review

..Confirmations:

.... Issuer Rating, Confirmed at A3

....Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Confirmed at A3

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Confirmed at A3

Issuer: Salt Lake County

..Confirmations:

....Senior Unsecured Revenue Bonds, Confirmed at A3, VMIG 2

Headquartered in London, England, Rio Tinto is one of the world's largest diversified mining groups with substantial interests in alumina and aluminum, copper, iron ore, coal, uranium, diamonds and industrial minerals (titanium dioxide feedstock, salt and talc). Rio Tinto generated revenues of $29.7 billion in 2007, which only includes Alcan from October 23.

New York
Brian Oak
Managing Director
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

New York
Carol Cowan
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

No Related Data.
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