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Rating Action:

Moody's updates methodology for rating jointly supported muni LOC-backed debt; 898 ratings on review

01 Sep 2010

New York, September 01, 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service has published an updated methodology for the way it assigns ratings to jointly supported letter of credit (LOC)-backed debt in the US municipal market. As a result of the changes to the methodology, the long-term ratings on 755 outstanding transactions have been placed under review for possible downgrade. An additional 142 transactions that are already under review for possible downgrade will also be affected by the methodology as well as one transaction that is under review -- direction uncertain. A detailed list of ratings affected is available on the company's website at: http://v3.moodys.com/viewresearchdoc.aspx?docid=PBM_PBM127314.

The ratings on transactions supported by Aaa-rated LOC banks or issued by or on behalf of Aaa-rated obligors will remain Aaa under the updated methodology and are not under review. The short-term ratings of all LOC backed bonds continue to be based solely on the short-term rating of the applicable LOC bank. Moody's also stresses that the updated methodology does not affect the underlying ratings of the obligors or the rating agency's opinion of their credit quality.

Moody's originally proposed the changes to its ratings approach as a request for comment in July. After considering market feedback, the rating agency is moving forward with its plans to apply its joint default analysis approach (or JDA) used to rate other sectors to LOC-backed debt.

As with Moody's earlier approach to rating these transactions -- called joint support analysis -- JDA looks at the probability of default of the obligor and of the bank providing the letter of credit, and the default dependence between the two entities.

The changes under the new approach are twofold. The first is that Moody's will now utilize four-year global idealized default rates in the determination of the standalone credit risk of the obligor and the LOC bank. These default rates correspond to the global scale ratings assigned to the entities and are consistent with those default rates used in the application of the JDA approach in rating assessments in other sectors.

The second is that the rating agency has introduced a new analytical framework for determining default dependence between the obligor and the LOC bank. This analysis considers the degree of revenue overlap between the obligor and the bank, and the financial and operational linkages between the obligor and the bank and the banking sector. The recent economic cycle has demonstrated the increased interconnectedness between the banking sector and obligors in the U.S. municipal market, particularly those obligors with variable rate debt.

Moody's has placed the existing joint support ratings of 898 municipal LOC-backed transactions under review for possible downgrade while it assesses these ratings under the updated methodology. The reviews are expected to be resolved within the next 60 days. Moody's expects long-term joint support ratings on these transactions will be lowered by 0 to 3 notches, with approximately 75% within one notch and 95% within two notches.

As the JDA approach recognizes the potential benefit of dual support, transactions may achieve a JDA long-term rating that is higher than that of either the obligor or the LOC bank. The ratings of new transactions based on the JDA approach could be 0 to 2 notches above the higher of the LOC bank's or obligor's long-term rating.

For more information, see "Applying Global Joint Default Analysis to Letter of Credit-Backed Transactions in the U.S. Public Finance Sector" available on www.moodys.com.

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

The principal methodology used in rating these transactions is, Applying Global Joint Default Analysis to Letter of Credit-Backed Transactions in the U.S. Public Finance Sector, published on September 1, 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.

* * * * *

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For more information please contact New York Press Information +1-212-553-0376; EMEA Press Information in London +44-20-7772-5456; Juan Pablo Soriano in Madrid +34-91-310-1454; Alex Cataldo in Milan +39-02-914-81-100; Eric de Bodard in Paris +331-5330-1076; Detlef Scholz in Frankfurt +49-69-707-30-700; Mardig Haladjian in Limassol +357-25-586-586; Alex Sazhin in Moscow +7-495-228-60-60; Petr Vins in Prague +4202 2422 2929; Tokyo Press Information +813-5408-4110; Hilary Parkes in Toronto +1-416-214-1635; Hong Kong Press Information +852 3758 1350; Hector Lim in Sydney +612 9270 8102; Luiz Tess in São Paulo +5511-3043-7300; Alberto Jones Tamayo in Mexico City +5255-1253-5700; Daniel Rúas in Buenos Aires +54 11-4816-2332 ext. 105; Craig Jamieson in Johannesburg +27-11-217-5470; Jehad el-Nakla in Dubai +971 4 401 9536; or visit our web site at www.moodys.com

New York
Robert Azrin
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Structured Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

New York
Lisa Washburn
MD - Public Finance
Structured Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Moody's Investors Service
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
USA

Moody's updates methodology for rating jointly supported muni LOC-backed debt; 898 ratings on review
No Related Data.
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Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of Moody’s Corporation (“MCO”), hereby discloses that most issuers of debt securities (including corporate and municipal bonds, debentures, notes and commercial paper) and preferred stock rated by Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. have, prior to assignment of any rating, agreed to pay to Moody’s Investors Service, Inc. for appraisal and rating services rendered by it fees ranging from $1,500 to approximately $2,500,000. MCO and MIS also maintain policies and procedures to address the independence of MIS’s ratings and rating processes. Information regarding certain affiliations that may exist between directors of MCO and rated entities, and between entities who hold ratings from MIS and have also publicly reported to the SEC an ownership interest in MCO of more than 5%, is posted annually at www.moodys.com under the heading “Investor Relations — Corporate Governance — Director and Shareholder Affiliation Policy.”

Additional terms for Australia only: Any publication into Australia of this document is pursuant to the Australian Financial Services License of MOODY’S affiliate, Moody’s Investors Service Pty Limited ABN 61 003 399 657AFSL 336969 and/or Moody’s Analytics Australia Pty Ltd ABN 94 105 136 972 AFSL 383569 (as applicable). This document is intended to be provided only to “wholesale clients” within the meaning of section 761G of the Corporations Act 2001. By continuing to access this document from within Australia, you represent to MOODY’S that you are, or are accessing the document as a representative of, a “wholesale client” and that neither you nor the entity you represent will directly or indirectly disseminate this document or its contents to “retail clients” within the meaning of section 761G of the Corporations Act 2001. MOODY’S credit rating is an opinion as to the creditworthiness of a debt obligation of the issuer, not on the equity securities of the issuer or any form of security that is available to retail investors. It would be reckless and inappropriate for retail investors to use MOODY’S credit ratings or publications when making an investment decision. If in doubt you should contact your financial or other professional adviser.

Additional terms for Japan only: Moody's Japan K.K. (“MJKK”) is a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of Moody's Group Japan G.K., which is wholly-owned by Moody’s Overseas Holdings Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of MCO. Moody’s SF Japan K.K. (“MSFJ”) is a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of MJKK. MSFJ is not a Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization (“NRSRO”). Therefore, credit ratings assigned by MSFJ are Non-NRSRO Credit Ratings. Non-NRSRO Credit Ratings are assigned by an entity that is not a NRSRO and, consequently, the rated obligation will not qualify for certain types of treatment under U.S. laws. MJKK and MSFJ are credit rating agencies registered with the Japan Financial Services Agency and their registration numbers are FSA Commissioner (Ratings) No. 2 and 3 respectively.

MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) hereby disclose that most issuers of debt securities (including corporate and municipal bonds, debentures, notes and commercial paper) and preferred stock rated by MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) have, prior to assignment of any rating, agreed to pay to MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) for appraisal and rating services rendered by it fees ranging from JPY200,000 to approximately JPY350,000,000.

MJKK and MSFJ also maintain policies and procedures to address Japanese regulatory requirements.