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Rating Action:

Moody's downgrades Gasunie to Aa3; stable outlook

10 Sep 2010

Approximately EUR3.7 billion of long-term debt securities affected

London, 10 September 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service has today downgraded to Aa3 from Aa2 the issuer and senior unsecured debt ratings of N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie ("Gasunie"). The outlook is stable.

RATINGS RATIONALE

The rating downgrade follows the publication in July 2010 of Moody's updated rating methodology for Government-Related Issuers (GRI) and reflects a slight re-assessment of Moody's assumption of government support embedded within Gasunie's ratings in light of the lessons learned from the global financial crisis (please refer to Moody's rating methodology entitled Government-Related Issuers: Methodology Update, available on Moody's website www.moodys.com). Nevertheless, the Aa3 ratings continue to incorporate material uplift from Gasunie's stand-alone credit quality or Baseline Credit Assessment (BCA) for the potential support that could be provided to the company by the government of Netherlands, rated Aaa with stable outlook, in a distress scenario.

Under the updated rating methodology for GRI, Moody's assessment of probability of support is "high", reflecting Gasunie's current 100%-state ownership together with the assumption that no privatization will occur. It also factors in the strategic role of Gasunie in the Dutch energy policy, which aims at ensuring security of supply by strengthening the position of the Netherlands as a gas hub in North-West Europe (the "gas roundabout" concept), as well as the company's importance to the domestic economy given the share of gas in primary energy demand in the Netherlands. Moody's assessment further incorporates the close relationship between the company and the government, as evidenced by the Ministry of Finance's tight control over the group's investment program, and the relatively high reputational risk to the government of a potential default by Gasunie on its financial obligations. Moody's assessment of dependence is "high", reflecting that both Gasunie and the government derive a substantial proportion of their respective revenues from sources within the Netherlands.

Gasunie's BCA of 7 -- on a scale of 1 to 21, equivalent to an A3 rating -- balances (i) a strong business risk profile underpinned by the predictable revenues generated by its regulated gas transmission activities in the Netherlands and north of Germany, and (ii) Moody's expectation that credit metrics will deteriorate further from current levels as the company continues to invest heavily to expand the capacity of its network.

Moody's expects Gasunie to demonstrate FFO to net debt at least in the low-teens and FFO interest cover above 3.5x on a sustainable basis to support the current BCA. The stable rating outlook incorporates Moody's expectation that Gasunie's financial metrics could become weakly positioned over the short to medium term before recovering as investment projects come on stream.

Failure by the company to maintain such debt protection metrics on a sustainable basis and/or a material adverse change to the regulatory framework in the Netherlands would likely result in a lowering of the BCA. Under Moody's rating methodology for GRI, it is possible that negative pressure would be exerted on Gasunie's Aa3 rating were the BCA to deteriorate from 7 to 8. Conversely, an upgrade of ratings could be triggered by a material strengthening of Gasunie's credit metrics or the provision of explicit government support, although neither of these is currently expected.

The principal methodologies used in rating N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie were Regulated Electric and Gas Networks published in August 2009 and Government-Related Issuers: Methodology Update published in July 2010. Other methodologies and factors that may have been considered in the process of rating this issuer can also be found on Moody's websites.

Headquartered in Groningen, the Netherlands, N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie is one of the largest regulated gas transmission companies in Europe by volumes transported. In 2009, it reported revenues of EUR1.7 billion. The company is 100%-owned by the Dutch state.

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, confidential and proprietary Moody's Investors Service's information, confidential and proprietary Moody's Analytics information.

Moody's Investors Service considers the quality of information available on the issuer or obligation satisfactory for the purposes of maintaining a credit rating.

The rating has been disclosed to the rated entity or its designated agents and issued with no amendment resulting from that disclosure.

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

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London
Paul Marty
Vice President - Senior Analyst
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.
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Moody's downgrades Gasunie to Aa3; stable outlook
No Related Data.
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