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10 Aug 2010
Approximately EUR16 billion rated debt securities affected
London, 10 August 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service has today placed on review for possible downgrade
the Aa3 senior unsecured ratings of GDF SUEZ SA ('GDF SUEZ'
or 'the Group'), and the ratings of the GIE Suez Alliance
which is guaranteed by GDF SUEZ. Moody's has also placed
on review for possible downgrade the A2 issuer ratings of its subsidiaries
Electrabel SA (Electrabel) and GDF SUEZ CC, which incorporate a
degree of uplift from membership of the Group. The Prime-1
ratings of GDF SUEZ and the GIE Suez Alliance were affirmed. At
the same time Moody's has assigned to Electrabel a guaranteed Prime-1
rating and an unguaranteed Prime-1 rating, which has been
placed on review for possible downgrade.
Moody's says that the review for downgrade follows the recent announcement
that GDF SUEZ and International Power plc (IPR, rated Ba2 under
review for possible upgrade, see separate press release) have entered
into a Memorandum of Understanding regarding the proposed combination
of IPR and GDF SUEZ's Energy International Business Areas (outside
Europe) and certain assets in the UK and Turkey (collectively 'GDF
SUEZ Energy International'). Under the terms of the proposed
combination GDF SUEZ is to acquire 70% of IPR through the contribution
of GDF SUEZ Energy International into IPR in exchange for newly issued
IPR shares. The transaction, which remains subject to certain
approvals, is planned to close by end 2010, or early 2011,
and will include the payment of a EUR1.7 billion special dividend
to IPR's existing shareholders.
The review for downgrade reflects the impact of the transaction on the
Group's business risk profile, which will incorporate a higher
proportion of IPP development and operational assets, as well as
the additional debt assumed as part of the transaction. While recognizing
the good strategic fit of the combined businesses, and the potential
for synergies, the planned transaction increases the risk,
in Moody's view, that in the current challenging economic
environment GDF SUEZ's credit profile remains weaker for longer
than earlier expected than Moody's guidance for the rating,
whose outlook was changed to negative in May.
The rating review will evaluate the impact of the transaction on the business
risk profile of GDF SUEZ, the extent and timing of potential synergies,
as well as the extent to which increased borrowings might be mitigated
by offsetting measures including, potentially, asset disposals.
It will also consider the Group's plans for managing and potentially
refinancing IPR's existing borrowings, and the implications
these might have for structural subordination. Moody's adds
that any potential downgrade is likely to be limited to one notch.
On the basis of its 35.9% ownership by the French Government,
GDF SUEZ SA is considered a Government Related Issuer under Moody's
Methodology. Given Moody's assumptions of strong support
and moderate dependence, a one notch weakening of GDF SUEZ's
baseline credit assessment (BCA) of 5/A1 would lead to a one notch reduction
of the assigned rating.
The review for downgrade of Electrabel follows that of its 100%
parent GDF SUEZ, and reflects that the A2 rating incorporates a
notch of uplift because of its strategic importance to the larger Group.
It also reflects that the incorporation of IPR's assets and debt
are likely to impact its business and financial risk profiles.
The review for downgrade of GDF SUEZ CC follows that of GDF SUEZ and Electrabel.
Moody's adds that since the rating of GDF SUEZ CC is based primarily
on the implied support from GDF SUEZ through Electrabel as intermediate
holding company, it is likely to follow the ratings of GDF SUEZ,
while remaining effectively constrained by the rating of Electrabel.
The following ratings were placed on review for possible downgrade:
- GDF SUEZ SA: Aa3 senior unsecured issuer and debt ratings;
A1 subordinated debt rating.
- GIE Suez Alliance: Aa3 senior unsecured issuer and debt
- Suez Finance SA: Aa3 guaranteed senior unsecured debt rating.
- Belgelec Finance SA: Aa3 guaranteed senior unsecured debt
- Electrabel SA: Aa3 guaranteed senior unsecured debt rating;
A2 senior unsecured issuer rating.
- GDF SUEZ CC: A2 senior unsecured issuer rating.
The following rating was assigned and placed on review for possible downgrade:
- Electrabel SA: Prime-1 short-term debt rating
assigned to treasury note programme.
The following rating was assigned:
- Electrabel SA: Prime-1 guaranteed short-term
The following ratings were affirmed:
- GDF SUEZ SA: Prime-1 short-term debt rating.
- GIE Suez Alliance: Prime-1 short-term issuer
The previous rating actions on GDF SUEZ, Electrabel and GDF SUEZ
CC were implemented in May 2010, when the rating outlooks were changed
The principal methodologies used in rating these entities were The Application
of Joint Default Analysis to Government Related Issuers, published
in April 2005, and Moody's rating methodology for Unregulated Utilities
and Power Companies published in August 2009 and available on 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 this issuer can also be found in the
Rating Methodologies sub-directory on Moody's website.
Headquartered in Paris, GDF SUEZ SA is one of the world's
leading energy providers. It reported group turnover of EUR42.3
billion and EBITDA of EUR8.2 billion in the first half of 2010.
MD - Infrastructure Finance
Infrastructure Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454
Senior Vice President
Infrastructure Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
Moody's places GDF SUEZ's Aa3 ratings on review for downgrade
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London E14 5FA
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