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Rating Action:

Moody's downgrades 2 French RLGs by one notch and affirms the ratings on 7 joint notes

22 Sep 2015

Note: On July 07, 2017, the press release was corrected as follows: the location for the first contact was updated to “Moody's Investors Service EMEA Limited.” Revised release follows.

London, 22 September 2015 -- Moody's Public Sector Europe (MPSE) has today downgraded the ratings of the intermunicipality of Cergy-Pontoise to A1 from Aa3 and the region de la Reunion to A2 from A1; the outlook on the ratings is stable. Today's rating actions were prompted by the weakening of the French government's credit profile as captured by Moody's downgrade of France's government bond rating to Aa2 from Aa1 on 18th of September 2015, with a stable outlook. For more details, please refer to Moody's press release https://www.moodys.com/research/--PR_334715.

Moreover, MPSE has today affirmed the ratings of seven joint notes issued by French sub-sovereigns and has not assigned an outlook to the ratings. The rating actions reflect Moody's annual revision of the credit estimates of the pool participants as well as the recent downgrade of France's government bond rating to Aa2 from Aa1, with a stable outlook.

The following ratings have been affirmed:

(1) Regional and local governments' joint notes, namely: (i) Communautes Urbaines de France No 1 at A3; (ii) Communautes Urbaines de France No 2 at A3; (iii) Communautes Urbaines de France No 3 at A3; (iv) Communautes Urbaines de France No 4 at A3; (v) Collectivités Territoriales de France No1 (CTF No1) at Baa1; and (2) Public hospitals' joint notes, namely: (vi) CHU Joint Issuance at Baa1; and (vii) Centres Hospitaliers Regionaux Universitaires No.1 (CHRU No1) at Baa2.

RATINGS RATIONALE

Group-specific rationales for (1) the intermunicipality of Cergy-Pontoise and region de la Reunion; (2) regional and local governments' joint notes; and (3) public hospitals' joint notes are provided below.

1) RATIONALE FOR DOWNGRADE OF RATINGS ON INTERMUNICIPALITY OF CERGY-PONTOISE AND REGION DE LA REUNION

The downgrades of the intermunicipality of Cergy-Pontoise's rating to A1 from Aa3 and that of the region de la Reunion to A2 from A1 reflect their financial and economic linkages with the government of France. These linkages translate into an increase in systemic risk for intermunicipality and the region. This risk largely factors in continuing weakness in France's medium-term growth outlook as well as cuts in transfers from the central government to French RLGs, which will amount to EUR11 billion between 2015 and 2017.

While MPSE believes that the intermunicipality of Cergy-Pontoise and the region de la Reunion's ratings are directly affected by the sovereign downgrade, the rating agency also believes that both RLGs' track records in controlling their operating expenditure will enable them to maintain their strong operating performances going forward.

2) RATIONALE FOR AFFIRMATION OF RATINGS ON THE RLGS' JOINT NOTES

The affirmations of five RLGs' joint notes reflect the increase in systemic risk following the weakening of the sovereign's credit profile together with MPSE's upward revision of the idiosyncratic credit assessments of some of the pool participants. The latter takes into account the RLG sector's enhanced liquidity and long-term financing opportunities as well as the steady reduction in RLGs' exposure to structured products over the last two years. In addition, the ratings of the joint notes benefit from a greater degree of resilience to the downgrade, given their already low positioning (low single-A to high-Baa) prior to the sovereign action.

Moody's decision not to assign an outlook reflects the absence of outlooks on the pool participants' credit estimates.

3) RATIONALE FOR AFFIRMATION OF RATINGS ON THE PUBLIC HOSPITALS' JOINT NOTES

Today's affirmations of two public hospitals' joint notes reflect (1) the improvement in the liquidity facilities available to the public hospital sector in France with the first authorisations granted in 2015 allowing five hospitals to issue commercial paper; and (2) the recent policy measure taken to support the reduction in the hospitals' exposure to structured products (EUR400 million will be made available over the next 10 years to desensitise hospitals' debt). These improvements offset the marginal increase in systemic risk for hospitals resulting from France's downgrade. MPSE points out that the hospitals joint notes' positioning in the Baa-category prior to the government of France's downgrade underpins the hospitals' resilience to the one-notch downgrade of the sovereign.

In addition, given that healthcare expenditure will grow at a controlled pace going forward (1.75% per year until 2017), MPSE believes that cost rationalisation measures implemented by each hospital, as well as substantial decreases in capital expenditure and strong government monitoring, will continue to support the sector's credit quality.

Moody's decision not to assign an outlook reflects the absence of outlooks on the pool participants' credit estimates.

--STRUCTURAL CHARACTERISTICS OF THE JOINT NOTES

Because only one of the joint notes' borrowers is publicly rated (intermunicipality of Cergy-Pontoise, A1 stable), Moody's assigns individual credit estimates to the other borrowers participating in these transactions. Credit estimates, unlike public monitored ratings, are private, point-in-time opinions of the approximate credit quality of individual pool borrowers.

For all joint issuances, each borrower is only responsible for the repayment of its share of the joint note. The joint notes are not enhanced by a debt-service reserve fund, overcollateralisation or a step-up provision by other borrowers in case one issuer fails to pay. Moody's assessment includes considerations of the strong oversight of the public hospital sector by the French government (through the Ministry of Health) as well as the close monitoring exercised by the central government over the hospitals' joint notes.

RATIONALE FOR OUTLOOK CHANGES TO STABLE FOR THE INTERMUNICIPALITY OF CERGY-PONTOISE AND REGION DE LA REUNION

The change in outlook on both RLGs' ratings to stable from negative reflects the stable outlook assigned to France's rating. It also reinforces the limited downward pressure faced by the two RLGs' ratings given their strong gross operating balances (calculated as the difference between operating revenues and expenses) at year-end 2014, at 21% for the intermunicipality and 30% for the region.

WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATING UP/DOWN

INTERMUNICIPALITY OF CERGY-PONTOISE AND REGION DE LA REUNION

Any change in the sovereign rating would most likely have implications on the ratings of the two RLGs. However, this is unlikely given the current stable outlook assigned to the government of France's Aa2 rating.

In addition, in the case of Cergy-Pontoise, if its financial performance falls below current expectations in 2015-16, and records a GOB-to-operating revenue ratio below 15%, this could result in downward rating pressure.

For the region de la Reunion, should its results fall below our current forecasts, this could increase downward pressure on the rating. A weakening in the region's 2015-16 GOB, falling below 20% of operating revenues (which would bring the region closer to a debt-to-GOB ratio of 10), or strong indications of future deviation in its capital expenditure projects from original projections, could add downward pressure on the rating.

RLGS' AND PUBLIC HOSPITALS' JOINT NOTES

The downward revision of credit estimates assigned to individual borrowers could exert negative pressure on the joint notes' ratings. Such a revision could be prompted by (1) a substantial deterioration in the borrowers' liquidity profiles; (2) a weakening of their operating performance, leading to a decrease in self-financing capacity and hence an increase in a recourse to debt; and (3) for the hospitals' joint notes: indications that the level of oversight from the central government has weakened compared to MPSE's baseline assumptions.

The ratings of the joint notes could be upgraded if the French sub-sovereigns participating in these transactions record (1) further improvements in their liquidity profiles; and (2) substantial improvements in their financial performances, as reflected in stronger operating results and lower debt metrics.

Going forward, Moody's will continue to review its credit estimates of unrated RLGs and public hospitals participating in the pools on an annual basis.

RATINGS AFFECTED

-- INTERMUNICIPALITY OF CERGY-PONTOISE --

Long-term issuer rating downgraded by one-notch to A1 from Aa3, with a stable outlook

-- REGION DE LA REUNION --

Long-term issuer rating downgraded by one-notch to A2 from A1, with a stable outlook

-- COMMUNAUTES URBAINES DE FRANCE NO 1--

Rating on the EUR106 million of notes issued in 2004 affirmed at A3

Issuers participating in the transaction:

Communauté Urbaine (CU) d'Arras, CU de Bordeaux, CU de Cherbourg, CU Creusot-Montceau, CU de Dunkerque, CU de Lille, CU de Lyon, CU du Mans, CU de Nancy, CU de Nantes, CU de Strasbourg.

-- COMMUNAUTES URBAINES DE FRANCE NO 2--

Rating on the EUR103 million of notes issued in 2005 affirmed at A3

Issuers participating in the transaction:

Communauté Urbaine (CU) d'Alençon, CU d'Arras, CU de Bordeaux, CU de Brest, CU de Cherbourg, CU Creusot-Montceau, CU de Dunkerque, CU de Lille, CU de Lyon, CU du Mans, CU de Marseille, CU de Nancy, CU de Nantes, CU de Strasbourg.

-- COMMUNAUTES URBAINES DE FRANCE NO 3--

Rating on the EUR103.6 million of notes issued in 2006 affirmed at A3

Issuers participating in the transaction:

Communauté Urbaine (CU) d'Alençon, CU d'Arras, CU de Bordeaux, CU de Cherbourg, CU Creusot-Montceau, CU de Dunkerque, CU de Lille, CU de Lyon, CU du Mans, CU de Marseille, CU de Nancy, CU de Nantes, CU de Strasbourg.

-- COMMUNAUTES URBAINES DE FRANCE NO 4--

Rating on the EUR89.1 million of notes issued in 2007 affirmed at A3

Issuers participating in the transaction:

Communauté Urbaine (CU) d'Alençon, CU de Bordeaux, Communauté d'Agglomération de Cergy-Pontoise, CU Creusot-Montceau, CU de Dunkerque, CU de Lille, CU de Lyon, CU du Mans, CU de Marseille, CU de Nancy, CU de Nantes, CU de Strasbourg.

-- COLLECTIVITES TERRITORIALES DE FRANCE NO. 1--

Rating on the EUR120 million of notes issued in 2008 affirmed at Baa1

Issuers participating in the transaction:

Communauté Urbaine (CU) d'Alençon, CU de Bordeaux, Communauté d'Agglomération (CA) de Cergy-Pontoise, CU Creusot-Montceau, CA Dijonnaise, CU de Dunkerque, CU de Lyon, CU de Marseille, CA de Maubeuge Val de Sambre, CU de Nantes, CA Plaine-Commune, CA Rouennaise, CU de Strasbourg, Département de la Meuse, Région Pays de la Loire, Région Picardie, Région Rhône-Alpes, Ville de Clichy-sous-Bois, Ville de Dunkerque, Ville du Havre, Ville de Levallois-Perret, Ville de Saint-Etienne.

--JOINT NOTES OF CENTRES HOSPITALIERS REGIONAUX UNIVERSITAIRES No.1--

Rating on the EUR270 million of notes issued in 2009 affirmed at Baa2

Issuers participating in the transaction:

CHU Amiens, CHU Angers, CHU Besançon, CHU Bordeaux, CHU Brest, CHU Clermont-Ferrand, CHU Dijon, CHU Fort-de-France, CHU Grenoble, CHU Lille, CHU Limoges, Hospices Civils of Lyon, Assistance Publique Hôpitaux of Marseille, CHR Metz-Thionville, CHU Montpellier, CHU Nancy, CHU Nice, CHU Nîmes, CHU Poitiers, CHU Reims, CHU Rennes, CHU Rouen, CHU Saint-Etienne, CHU Tours.

-- CHU JOINT ISSUANCE--

Rating on the EUR167 million of notes issued in 2010 affirmed at Baa1

Issuers participating in the transaction:

CHU Amiens, CHU Angers, CHU Besançon, CHU Bordeaux, CHU Brest, CHU Clermont-Ferrand, CHU Dijon, CHU Grenoble, CH Lagny Marne-la-Vallée, CHU Limoges, Assistance Publique Hôpitaux of Marseille, CHR Metz-Thionville, CHU Montpellier, CHU Nancy, CHU Nice, CHU Nîmes, CHU Reims, CH Sainte-Anne, CH Felix-Guyon of Saint-Denis-de-la Reunion, CHU Saint-Etienne, CH Sud Francilien, Groupe Hospitalier Sud Reunion, CHU Tours.

In the case of the intermunicipality of Cergy-Pontoise and the region de la Reunion as well as the 5 RLGs' joint notes, the sovereign action required the publication of these credit rating actions on a date that deviates from the previously scheduled release date in the sovereign release calendar, published on www.moodys.com.

The specific economic indicators, as required by EU regulation, are not available for these entities. The following national economic indicators are relevant to the sovereign rating, which was used as an input to this credit rating action.

Sovereign Issuer: France, Government of

GDP per capita (PPP basis, US$): 40,375 (2014 Actual) (also known as Per Capita Income)

Real GDP growth (% change): 0.2% (2014 Actual) (also known as GDP Growth)

Inflation Rate (CPI, % change Dec/Dec): 0.1% (2014 Actual)

Gen. Gov. Financial Balance/GDP: -4% (2014 Actual) (also known as Fiscal Balance)

Current Account Balance/GDP: -0.9% (2014 Actual) (also known as External Balance)

External debt/GDP: [not available]

Level of economic development: Very High level of economic resilience

Default history: No default events (on bonds or loans) have been recorded since 1983.

On 17 September 2015, a rating committee was called to discuss the rating of Cergy-Pontoise, Intermunicipality of; Collectivites Territoriales de France No. 1; Communautes Urbaines de France No 1; Communautes Urbaines de France No 2; Communautes Urbaines de France No 3; Communautes Urbaines de France No 4; Reunion, Region de la. The main points raised during the discussion were: The systemic risk in which the issuers operate has materially increased.

The principal methodology used in rating the Intermunicipality of Cergy-Pontoise and the Region de La Reunion was Regional and Local Governments published in January 2013.

The principal methodology used in rating the 7 joint notes was Public Sector Pool Financings, published in July 2012. In the case of the 5 RLG pools, MPSE also used the Regional and Local Governments methodology published in January 2013. Finally, some factors of the Not-for-Profit Healthcare Rating Methodology, published in March 2012, were considered in the ratings of the two hospital pools.

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

The weighting of all rating factors is described in the methodology used in this rating action, if applicable.

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.

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.

Nicolas Fintzel
Analyst
Sub-Sovereign Group
Moody's Investors Service EMEA Limited
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

David Rubinoff
MD - Sub-Sovereigns
Sub-Sovereign Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

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

No Related Data.
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