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Rating Action:

Moody's upgrades Angola's sovereign ratings to Ba3 with a stable outlook

03 Jun 2011

London, 03 June 2011 -- London June 3, 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service has today upgraded Angola's foreign and local currency government bond ratings to Ba3 from B1. The rating outlook is now stable. Today's one-notch rating upgrade concludes the review for possible upgrade that Moody's initiated for Angola's ratings on 28 February 2011.

The main triggers for the upgrade are:

(I) the improvements in Angola's fiscal and external metrics;

(ii) the implementation of structural elements of the IMF stand-by agreement (SBA), particularly with regard to the fiscal framework and its potential impact on reducing Angola's vulnerability to oil price and on improving institutional strength; and

(iii) the clearing of the arrears that Angola had accumulated during the global financial crisis.

Moody's has today also upgraded Angola's foreign currency ceilings for bonds and deposits to Ba1 and B1 from Ba3 and B2, respectively.

RATINGS RATIONALE

The first driver of Moody's decision to upgrade Angola's ratings was triggered by improvements to the country's fiscal and external accounts, which have strengthened on the back of the recovery in oil prices. Both accounts, which were in deficit in 2009 by around 10% of GDP, moved back into surplus in 2010 and are likely to remain positive over the next two years. The authorities successfully restored macroeconomic stability within the SBA framework. Real GDP growth is going to be robust in 2011 at 7.6%, and even higher in 2012 with the start of the LNG plant in Kwanda. Moody's continues to view the economy's heavy dependence on the oil sector as a constraint, especially in the absence of a sovereign wealth fund. While progress is slow, Moody's notes that the authorities are trying to foster non-oil GDP over the medium term.

In view of the forecast oil proceeds, Moody's expects the balance sheet of the Angolan government to improve substantially to the extent that the country could become a net creditor within the next 12 months. However, Moody's cautions that this positive development should not mask the challenges Angola is facing, such as high structural inflation, the uncompetitive non-oil economy, weak governance and limited human capital. Moreover, the country faces the challenge of continuing rebuilding its infrastructure which was devastated by a 30-year civil war that ended only in 2002. Fortunately, Angola's oil riches provide the country with the means to confront these challenges and to modernize the economy provided that the income derived from these resources are well managed.

The second factor underlying today's rating action is the progress made by the Angolan government's with the implementation of reforms linked to the SBA signed with the IMF. The SBA, which will expire in February 2012, incorporates an ambitious reform program, including the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund to improve the management of oil proceeds and greater fiscal transparency. If successful, these reforms will improve Angola's institutional strength, which is a key input to Moody's assessment of a country's creditworthiness, and reduce the vulnerability of the economy and public finances to oil price volatility. While Moody's believes that the Angolan government is committed to fully implementing the reform agenda, the rating agency cautions that any slippage in implementation could exert negative pressure on the sovereign rating.

The third trigger of today's upgrade is the clearing of the Angolan government's arrears, which had been accumulated during the early stage of the global crisis and had posed a significant constraint on the country's ratings. However, in September and October 2010, the government paid off almost USD3 billion, representing half of its domestic arrears. Although the government had agreed to settle the balance before the end of Q1 2011, it was not able to fully honour the objective due to delays in finalizing the validation process by the international auditing firms. In April and May, approximately USD720 million was paid to suppliers as an advance payment, thereby clearing the outstanding claims of 185 out of 221 creditors.

Moody's observes that the remaining 36 creditors, which include large Brazilian and Chinese firms, are about to receive financial instruments, reflecting the outstanding balance of USD2 billion. This resolution of the arrears issue also removes a constraint on non-oil GDP growth. Indeed, as early as September 2010, the first payment to suppliers had an almost immediate positive influence on both economic activity and job creation.

PREVIOUS RATING ACTION & METHODOLOGY USED

Moody's last rating action affecting Angola was implemented on 19 May 2010, when the rating agency assigned a B1 rating with a positive outlook to Angola's government's bond. At the time, Moody's also assigned a Ba3 rating for the foreign currency bond ceiling to and B2 for the foreign currency deposit ceiling. The ratings and ceilings were put on review for possible upgrade on 28 February 2011.

The principal methodology used in this rating was Sovereign Bond Ratings Methodology published in September 2008.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

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

Moody's Investors Service considers the quality of information available on the issuer or obligation satisfactory for the purposes of maintaining a credit rating.

The rating has been disclosed to the rated entity or its designated agents and issued with no amendment resulting from that disclosure.

Moody's Investors Service may have provided Ancillary or Other Permissible Service(s) to the rated entity or its related third parties within the three years preceding the Credit Rating Action. Please see the ratings disclosure page www.moodys.com/disclosures on our website for further information.

Moody's adopts all necessary measures so that the information it uses in assigning a credit 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 ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on Moodys.com for the last rating action and the rating history.

The date on which some Credit Ratings were first released goes back to a time before Moody's Investors Service's Credit Ratings were fully digitized and accurate data may not be available. Consequently, Moody's Investors Service 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 the Credit Policy page on Moodys.com for the methodologies used in determining ratings, further information on the meaning of each rating category and the definition of default and recovery.

London
Aurelien Mali
Analyst
Sovereign Risk Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

New York
Bart Oosterveld
MD - Sovereign Risk
Sovereign Risk Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's upgrades Angola's sovereign ratings to Ba3 with a stable outlook
No Related Data.
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