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13 Aug 2010
New York, August 13, 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service downgraded the senior unsecured bond rating
of The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited (NGC) to Baa1
from A3. The rating was placed on review for further possible downgrade.
The change in NGC's rating reflects Moody's reassessment of
the default dependence between NGC and the government of Trinidad &
Tobago (Baa1, Stable) under Moody's rating methodology for
Government-Related Issuers (GRIs). Moody's views the
correlation of default dependence on credit factors that could cause stress
to both NGC and the government simultaneously as being in the high range
rather than the medium range. Furthermore, Moody's
believes it is not appropriate to assign a rating to NGC that is higher
than that of the government of Trinidad & Tobago's local currency
rating of Baa1. The resulting dependence assumption and Baa1 rating
are more consistent with other GRIs that have similar characteristics
The increased level of default dependence reflects Moody's view
that the economic drivers of the financial profiles of NGC and the government
of Trinidad & Tobago are highly correlated. Moody's believes
that in most cases, GRI's demonstrate moderate to very high
degrees of default dependence with their supporting governments due to
institutional linkages and shared exposure to economic conditions that
draw credit profiles together, the importance of which was highlighted
during the recent global economic crisis. In the case of NGC and
the government of Trinidad & Tobago, both issuers' credit
profiles are highly exposed to the cyclical energy sector and the energy
sector has been growing in scope and in importance to Trinidad's
economy over a period of many years. The higher dependence assumption
is also more consistent with Moody's dependence assumptions for
similar issuers in economies in which the energy sector represents a key
The rating downgrade does not reflect any changes in our view of NGC's
stand-alone credit risk profile, which maps to the Ba1-Ba3
range, or our assessment of the very high degree of support Moody's
assumes the government of Trinidad & Tobago would provide if necessary
to NGC given its 100% ownership stake in the company and the strategic
importance of the gas sector to the country's economy, which
results in several notches of uplift to the final rating.
The review for possible downgrade reflects the lack of audited financial
statements for year-end 2009. The rating could be withdrawn
if NGC's audited financial statements are not completed in a timely
manner and Moody's determines that it lacks sufficient financial
information to appropriately monitor the company's credit.
The rating could be confirmed if NGC is able to become current on its
audited financial statements for the year ending 2009; however,
the rating would be subject to a full review of the audited financial
Moody's previous rating action on NGC was on January 9, 2006,
when Moody's assigned NGC an A3 senior unsecured bond rating with
a stable outlook.
The principal methodologies used in rating NGC were Government-Related
Issuers: Methodology Update published in July 2010 and Moody's Midstream
Energy Companies & Partnerships rating methodology published in September
2007, both of which can be found at www.moodys.com
in the Rating Methodologies sub-directory under the Research &
Ratings tab. Other methodologies and factors that may have been
considered in the process of rating NGC can also be found in the Rating
Methodologies sub-directory on Moody's website.
Based in Point Lisas, Trinidad, NGC is a 100% state-owned
enterprise entrusted with the transmission and distribution of natural
gas in Trinidad and Tobago.
MD - Corporate Finance
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Corporate Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
Moody's Investors Service
Moody's downgrades NGC's rating to Baa1; rating placed on review for downgrade
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