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27 Feb 2009
Approximately EUR800 million debt affected
London, 27 February 2009 -- Moody's Investors Service has affirmed the A2/Prime-1 ratings
with a stable outlook of Nuon NV and its guaranteed subsidiary Nuon Finance
BV. At the same time, Moody's has placed the A3 senior
unsecured issuer rating of Nuon Power Generation BV on review for possible
downgrade. These rating actions follow the announcement that the
Nordic utility Vattenfall, has made an all-cash offer of
EUR8.5 billion enterprise value for 100% of the shares,
equalling to EUR10.3 billion for the equity of Nuon NV's generation
and supply company after 2008 dividends.
The Vattenfall offer is primarily a result of recent Dutch legislation
on "unbundling" - the legal requirement for the country's
utilities to implement full legal and ownership separation of regulated
activities from commercial activities. In 2008, in preparation
for full unbundling, Nuon divided its operations into two,
whilst still maintaining full ownership: Nuon PLB retaining the
generation and supply operations and NWB (Netwerk Services and Continuon)
- renamed into Alliander and Liander - the network businesses.
The latter regulated businesses will remain with Nuon NV under the new
name Alliander. Full unbundling of the company will take place
prior to the sale to Vattenfall, assuming this is successful.
The Vattenfall transaction would imply a two-step process whereby
Vattenfall would initially acquire 49% of Nuon PLB, with
the remaining 51% of the shares to be acquired after two,
four and six years under fixed terms. The acquisition is expected
to become effective in Q2 2009, subject to certain conditions including
the finalisation of Nuon's unbundling plan by the Dutch Ministry
of Economic Affairs, the approval by the European Commission and
at least 80% acceptance by Nuon's shareholders. Moody's
notes that Nuon's Management Board and Supervisory Board have unanimously
recommended the offer to Nuon's shareholders.
Moody's expects that the current holding company, Nuon NV,
will retain the same shareholding structure (100% ownership by
a number of Dutch regional and local governments) and will still be considered
a Government-Related Issuer under Moody's methodology,
although at present the support and dependence assumptions do not provide
any uplift to the ratings from the company's baseline credit assessment
of 6 (equivalent to A2).
Once the potential transaction has taken place, Moody's is
likely to consider the regulated electricity and gas grid activities,
held by Nuon NV, as lower business risk than that of the current
vertically integrated structure. As a result, the rating
agency is likely to consider lower financial ratios to maintain the same
rating. The capital structure of the company has yet to be finalised,
nonetheless Moody's notes that the company targets a sound A rating
and that debt reduction in recent years by Nuon should allow both new
subsidiaries to commence operations with a solid financial position.
The affirmation of Nuon NV's ratings reflects Moody's view
that the company's current financial flexibility and the shareholder
commitment to a solid A rating, means that the current A2 rating
is unlikely to be jeopardised. Moody's will however continue
to monitor as there are a number of decisions yet to be made, including
those as to the final capital structure of the company and further clarifications
on regulatory minimum standards for the network companies. Moody's
notes that ratings may therefore need to be adjusted as more information
becomes available -- potentially upwards in the case of a very moderately
leveraged structure or downwards in the case of a heavily leveraged structure.
On the other hand, Moody's notes that splitting out the higher-risk
generation and supply entity from the regulated activities could result
in negative rating pressure for an entity focused exclusively on competitive
activities, which is reflected in the review for possible downgrade
of Nuon Power Generation BV's A3 rating. The rating review
will consider the stand-alone credit strength of the company including
the final capital structure and further developments with regard to business
strategy. Nonetheless, it will also factor the potentially
positive benefits of ownership by the larger and more diversified electric
utility Vattenfall (rated A2/stable outlook, with ratings affirmed
after announcement of the offer).
The last rating action on Nuon NV and its subsidiaries was implemented
on 14 September 2007, when Moody's affirmed the group's
ratings (Nuon NV's rating at A2 with a stable outlook and Nuon Power
Generation at A3 stable outlook), following the collapse of the
merger discussions with Essent.
The principal methodology used in rating Nuon NV and its subsidiaries
is the "Rating Methodology: Global Regulated Electric Utilities",
published in March 2005. In addition, Nuon NV and its guaranteed
subsidiary Nuon Finance BV are considered under "The Application
of Joint Default Analysis to Government Related Issuers",
published in April 2005. These methodologies can be found at www.moodys.com
in the Credit Policy & Methodologies directory, in the Ratings
Methodologies sub-directory. Other methodologies and factors
that may have been considered in the process of rating this issuer can
also be found in the Credit Policy & Methodologies directory.
Nuon NV is an electricity and gas company based in the Netherlands with
leading market positions. It currently serves over three million
customers in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany. Nuon Power
Generation is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nuon NV and holds its generation
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454
Moody's takes rating actions on Nuon NV and subsidiaries
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454
No Related Data.
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