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Rating Action:

Moody's upgrades Regency Centers' senior unsecured rating to Baa1; outlook is stable

02 Jun 2015

New York, June 02, 2015 --

Moody's Investors Service ("Moody's") has upgraded the senior unsecured rating of Regency Centers LP to Baa1 from Baa2 and the preferred stock rating of the parent REIT, Regency Centers Corporation, to Baa2 from Baa3. The outlook for the ratings is stable.

The ratings upgrade reflects Regency Centers' improved leverage and fixed charge coverage metrics based on reported GAAP financials and pro-rata consolidated basis for joint venture investments. The ratings also reflect the REIT's good property portfolio, large unencumbered asset base and strong operating margins. Mitigating these credit strengths are the REIT's significant exposure to joint ventures and lumpy debt maturity schedule.

The following ratings were upgraded with a stable outlook:

Regency Centers Corporation -- preferred stock to Baa2 from Baa3 and preferred shelf to (P) Baa2 from (P)Baa3

Regency Centers L.P.- Senior unsecured debt to Baa1 from Baa2; senior unsecured debt shelf to (P)Baa1 from (P)Baa2

RATINGS RATIONALE

Regency's has a high quality well diversified portfolio with strong tenant relationships. Its portfolio lease rate has remained strong at 95%+ over the last year and same property NOI growth averaged 3.9% in the last 4 quarters. Other significant portfolio strengths include a large unencumbered asset base of 81.9% as percentage of gross assets and a well laddered lease maturity schedule with about 47% of the leases having maturities beyond 2019.

The REIT has aggregate outstanding debt of $ 2.0 billion at 1Q2015 of which $375 million is due in 2015. Regency has ample liquidity from its undrawn $800 million revolver and $193 million forward equity offering earlier this year to pay the maturing debt. Another $522 million is due in 2017 but with a large unencumbered asset base, revolver maturity extended to May 2019 and modest development spend, the REIT has many capital sources to repay the debt. However, Moody's notes that the debt maturity schedule is more concentrated than appropriate for the rating level with about 44% of outstanding debt maturing in the next 3 years.

Regency's operating leverage (net debt to EBITDA) has improved to 5.2x at 1Q2015 from 5.8x at YE 2012. Secured debt is also modest for the rating level at 9.7%. Book leverage (debt + preferred as a % of gross assets) at 45.4% is weaker than Moody's expectations for high Baa rated entities. Leverage metrics including the Regency's share of unconsolidated joint ventures, are weaker than GAAP related metrics, as many of the unconsolidated entities have more leverage in the capital structure. At 1Q2015, book leverage including JVs was 47.1% and operating leverage including JVs was 5.5x

Regency's EBITDA margin was 64.5% at 1Q2015 and has been consistently strong as many assets are in some of the strongest markets including Southern California, San Francisco and Washington. Fixed charge coverage ratio improved to 2.7x at 1Q2015 from 2.3x at YE2012 as interest expense and preferred dividends have remain relatively steady while recurring EBITDA grew to $94.3 million in 1Q2015 from $330 million for the full year of 2012. Fixed charge coverage including JVs was about the same as the consolidated reported values. Exposure to joint ventures remains high but for most of the investments, Regency has a unilateral right to terminate the JV for Distribution in kind which allows the REIT to unwind the JVs if the economics were not favorable.

The stable outlook reflects our expectation that Regency will at least maintain its leverage and coverage metrics at current levels and reduce its exposure to joint ventures over time.

Upward ratings movement is unlikely in the intermediate term and would require the REIT to improve fixed charge coverage to at least 3.0x (including pro-rata share of joint ventures), reduced book leverage (including JV) to below 35%, reduce exposure to joint ventures below 15% and increase gross assets to above $10 billion.

The ratings could be downgraded if book leverage(including JVs) remains above 50% on a sustained basis, operating leverage is above 5.5x and or fixed charge coverage (including JVs) is consistently below 2.5x.

Regency Centers Corporation [NYSE: REG] is a shopping center real estate investment trust headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida which owns, operates, and develops grocery-anchored and community shopping centers. As of March 31, 2015, Regency owned 321 retail properties, including those held in co-investment partnerships. Including tenant-owned square footage, the portfolio encompassed 43 million square feet located in top markets throughout the United States.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Global Rating Methodology for REITs and Other Commercial Property Firms published in July 2010 . Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

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

For any affected securities or rated entities receiving direct credit support from the primary entity(ies) of this rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this rating action, the associated regulatory disclosures will be those of the guarantor entity. Exceptions to this approach exist for the following disclosures, if applicable to jurisdiction: Ancillary Services, Disclosure to rated entity, Disclosure from rated entity.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

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.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Ranjini Venkatesan
Asst Vice President - 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

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Moody's upgrades Regency Centers' senior unsecured rating to Baa1; outlook is stable
No Related Data.
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