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Rating Action:

Moody's rates Sonae Sierra's proposed unsecured debentures at Aa3.br

31 Jan 2012

First-time rating

Sao Paulo, January 31, 2012 -- Moody's America Latina Ltda. has assigned a first-time national scale rating of Aa3.br to the proposed senior unsecured debentures of Sonae Sierra ((P) Ba2 global scale) and a Aa3.br corporate family national scale rating (Ba2 global scale). The rating outlook is stable.

The following first-time ratings were assigned:

Sonae Sierra Brasil S.A.

--(P)Ba2/Aa3.br to the senior unsecured debentures

--Ba2/Aa3.br corporate family rating

Sonae Sierra proposes to issue R$300 million in two series that will have a maturity of five and seven years from the issue date. The debentures have various covenants including financial covenants and limitations on the incurrence of additional debt. The proceeds from the offering will be applied toward future growth opportunities including development and acquisitions.

Sonae Sierra is a leading owner, developer and manager of shopping malls in Brazil with R$3.1 billion (US$1.8 billion) in gross assets as of September 30, 2011. According to Moody's, the ratings incorporate the company's strong operating performance, favorable retail sector fundamentals and a solid balance sheet with conservative leverage. The company benefits from the sector expertise of its controlling shareholders DDR based in the U.S, and Sonae Sierra in Europe. Offsetting these strengths are the risks associated with the company's large development pipeline. Other considerations are the company's short operating history as a public company and the limitations associated with its jointly owned assets.

Sonae Sierra has a solid balance sheet with R$440m in cash and liquid assets that offset R$332m in debt as of September 30, 2011. Leverage as measured by total debt and preferred securities to gross assets is considered very low at only 10.6% while net debt/EBITDA is -0.7% reflecting is net cash position. The company is in a strong position to fund its growth with R$282 million construction financing available to complete its 3 projects in development; plus the R$300 million proceeds from the new debentures and its cash, targeted for new opportunities. Moody's anticipates leverage to increase as the company executes on its growth strategy but to remain low in a conservative range of 2x to 3x net debt/EBITDA.

The ratings consider the portfolio's high occupancy rate at 97.4% and the very favorable retail fundamentals in Brazil with limited supply and a growing middle class with growing disposable income.

The retail market in Brazil is underserved by its supply of shopping malls compared to other countries. There is a growing trend towards shopping centers compared to traditional shopping venues. On the demand side, the country's growing middle class has supported strong sales growth. Average household income growth has contributed to increased disposable income. In 2011, sales growth slowed from its rapid pace but still remains healthy. Sonae Sierra's portfolio includes interests in 10 malls in operation, mostly located throughout the populous state of Sao Paulo; and 3 new development projects in the states of Minas Gerais, Parana and Goias. The company has a diversified tenant base with the top ten tenants representing 12% of revenues.

Offsetting these credit positives are the lease-up and execution risks associated with its large development pipeline. Sonae Sierra's total development costs for its pipeline represents 28.5% of gross assets as of September 30, 2011 and it is estimated to be nearly 34% when compared to the company's proportionate ownership share of gross assets. The company expects to nearly double its owned share of shopping mall GLA to 389,000 sqm by year-end 2013 through its currently in place development and expansion projects.

The stable outlook reflects Sonae Sierra's position as a leading shopping center company in Brazil with high portfolio occupancy; a solid balance sheet with low leverage; a good cash balance and a manageable debt maturity schedule. The outlook also incorporates management's commitment to a conservative balance sheet despite its large development pipeline.

Positive ratings movement could occur through a reduction in the development pipeline to less than 15% of gross assets; gross assets approaching R$5 billion; and fully loaded fixed charge coverage (interest expense, capitalized interest and principal amortization) consistently above 2.0x. Conversely a downgrade would occur should the company experience any difficulty with the execution and lease-up of the development pipeline; net debt/EBITDA consistently above 3.5x; or the inability to show adequate liquidity for the upcoming 24 months.

This is the first time Moody's rates Sonae Sierra Brasil S.A.

Sonae Sierra Brasil S.A. is based in Sao Paulo and is one of the leading shopping center companies in Brazil with interests in 10 malls plus 3 under development as of September 30, 2011. The total portfolio GLA is 353,000 square meters (sqm) and the company's owned GLA is 204,600 sqm as of September 30, 2011. Sonae Sierra Brasil launched its IPO on the Brazilian stock exchange in February 2011 under the ticker SSBR3:BR. As a public company on the Brazilian stock exchange, Sonae Sierra complies with the standards of corporate governance in the Brazilian stock market as well as other listing standards set forth by the Comissão de Valores Mobiliários (CVM), which is the Brazilian equivalent to the SEC.

The principal methodology used in rating Sonae Sierra Brasil S.A. was the Global Rating Methodology for REITs and Other Commercial Property Firms 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 website.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

Although this credit rating has been issued in a non-EU country which has not been recognized as endorsable at this date, this credit rating is deemed "EU qualified by extension" and may still be used by financial institutions for regulatory purposes until 30 April 2012. Further information on the EU endorsement status and on the Moody's office that has issued a particular Credit Rating is available on www.moodys.com.

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides relevant 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 relevant 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 relevant 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.

Information sources used to prepare the rating are the following : parties involved in the ratings, public information, and confidential and proprietary Moody's Investors Service information.

Moody's considers the quality of information available on the rated entity, obligation or credit satisfactory for the purposes of issuing a rating.

Moody's adopts all necessary measures so that the information it uses in assigning a rating is of sufficient quality and from sources Moody's considers to be reliable including, when appropriate, independent third-party sources. However, Moody's is not an auditor and cannot in every instance independently verify or validate information received in the rating process.

Please see the ratings disclosure page on www.moodys.com for general disclosure on potential conflicts of interests.

Please see the ratings disclosure page on www.moodys.com for information on (A) MCO's major shareholders (above 5%) and for (B) further information regarding certain affiliations that may exist between directors of MCO and rated entities as well as (C) the names of entities that hold ratings from MIS that have also publicly reported to the SEC an ownership interest in MCO of more than 5%. A member of the board of directors of this rated entity may also be a member of the board of directors of a shareholder of Moody's Corporation; however, Moody's has not independently verified this matter.

Please see Moody's Rating Symbols and Definitions on the Rating Process page on www.moodys.com for further information on the meaning of each rating category and the definition of default and recovery.

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

The date on which some ratings were first released goes back to a time before Moody's ratings were fully digitized and accurate data may not be available. Consequently, Moody's provides a date that it believes is the most reliable and accurate based on the information that is available to it. Please see the ratings disclosure page on our website www.moodys.com for further information.

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.

Jane Cotroneo
Analyst
Commercial Real Estate Finance
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Nick Levidy
MD - Structured Finance
Commercial Real Estate Finance
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

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Moody's rates Sonae Sierra's proposed unsecured debentures at Aa3.br
No Related Data.
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