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Rating Action:

Moody's upgrades ratings of all Spanish sub-sovereigns; changes outlooks to positive from stable

27 Feb 2014

Madrid, February 27, 2014 -- Moody's Investors Service has today upgraded by one or two notches the ratings of all Spanish sub-sovereigns. At the same time, Moody's has changed all rating outlooks to positive from stable on Spanish sub-sovereigns.

The rating actions follow the improvement in the Spanish government's creditworthiness, reflected in Moody's upgrade of Spain's government bond rating to Baa2 from Baa3 and its concurrent change of the outlook on Spain's sovereign rating to positive from stable on 21 February 2014. For full details, please refer to the sovereign press release (https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-upgrades-Spains-government-bond-rating-to-Baa2-assigns-positive--PR_292078).

Furthermore, the ratings are driven by (1) the strong correlation between Spanish sovereign and sub-sovereign credit risk, reflected in their macroeconomic linkages, institutional factors and financial market conditions; and (2) Moody's view on the strength of the central government's liquidity support mechanism for Spanish regions.

A detailed list of the affected issuers and ratings is provided at the end of this press release.

RATINGS RATIONALE

RATIONALE FOR THE RATINGS UPGRADES

ENTITIES RATED ABOVE THE SOVEREIGN LEVEL

--- THE BASQUE COUNTRY AND THE PROVINCE OF BIZKAIA

Moody's decision to upgrade the ratings of the Basque Country and the province of Bizkaia to Baa1 from Baa2 reflects these entities' unique and constitutionally-protected tax regimes, which currently enable them retain sufficient credit strength to maintain their ratings one notch above that of the sovereign. In addition, the Basque Country and Bizkaia's limited debt amortisations in 2014, as well as both entities' good liquidity positions limit their refinancing risk. Moody's also notes that the fiscal reform the three Basque provinces will implement in 2014 will likely result in significant increases in their respective tax collection.

ENTITIES RATED AT THE SOVEREIGN LEVEL

--- CITY OF BARCELONA

Moody's upgrade of the city of Barcelona's issuer rating to Baa2 from Baa3 reflects (1) the city's good budgetary management and solid financial fundamentals in recent years, which have ensured a high self-financing capacity and as a result, a limited debt burden; and (2) reduced systemic risk. Barcelona's liquidity position is characterised by abundant cash-on-hand and very limited debt obligations.

While Moody's acknowledges Barcelona's robust financials, the city does not have sufficient financial flexibility to justify a rating above that of the sovereign. The central government retains control of Spanish municipalities via legislation, the level of transfers, and the management of pay-rise packages for civil servants.

-- REGIONS OF CASTILLA Y LEON, GALICIA AND MADRID

Moody's decision to upgrade the ratings of these regions to Baa2 from Baa3, on par with the sovereign's rating, is based on macroeconomic linkages with the Government of Spain and their stronger fiscal and financial performance relative to other Moody's-rated Spanish regions. These regions' deficits are under control and their debt burdens, although increasing, are still below average for Spanish regions. In addition, the upgrade also reflects the significant improvement in capital market conditions that these regions have experienced in the last few months, which has allowed them to issue bonds in the financial markets, with lower interest rates and longer maturities.

--- ENTITIES RATED BELOW THE SOVEREIGN LEVEL

-- REGION OF EXTREMADURA

Moody's upgrade of the region of Extremadura's issuer rating to Baa3 from Ba1 reflects (1) the region's significantly improved fiscal and liquidity position since 2012; (2) its low debt levels compared to its national peers, of around 70% of its operating revenue in 2013 (compared to around 170% for the rated regions on average); and (3) reduced systemic risk. Moody's also notes that Extremadura will benefit from the improving capital market conditions for Spanish regions in 2014.

--REGIONS OF ANDALUCIA, CASTILLA LA MANCHA, CATALUNYA, MURCIA AND VALENCIA

Moody's one-notch rating upgrade of the regions of Andalucia (to Ba1 from Ba2), Castilla-La Mancha, Catalunya and Murcia (to Ba2 from Ba3), and two-notch upgrade of the region of Valencia ( to Ba2 from B1) reflect macroeconomic linkages and Moody's assessment of the evolution and predictability of government liquidity support to regions over the next two years.

Since its inception in 2012, the Fondo de Liquidez Autonomico (FLA) has provided these five regions with funding. Moody's believes that the FLA is likely to continue to exist for as long as Spanish regions face financial difficulties and continue their efforts to meet fiscal targets. Moody's bases its view on the government's recent track record of providing this funding to regions, as well as its decision to maintain the existence of the fund in 2014. As such, Moody's views FLA funding as a predictable and regular funding source, available for Spanish regions that require it. While these five regions increasingly have other market options available to them, Moody's believes that they will continue to use FLA funding, given its lower cost.

Although the five regions' fiscal positions will remain fragile in the next few years and their debt levels will continue to increase, continued receipt of FLA funds and the consequent adherence to the FLA's rules implies greater government control over their finances. In the case of Valencia, Moody's notes that government involvement resulted in strengthened budget management practices and the implementation of strong fiscal consolidation measures, which will likely result in a deficit reduction for 2013. As a result, Valencia's fiscal and debt positions are now aligned with those of other Ba2-rated regions.

--- INSURED DEBT

-- FERIA VALENCIA

Moody's upgrade of Feria Valencia's insured debt to A2 from A3 follows the upgrade of the Government of Spain's country ceiling to A1 from A3 on 21 February 2014. Feria Valencia's debt rating is guaranteed by Assured Guaranty (Europe) Ltd (A2 stable). Spain's country ceiling is now higher than Assured Guaranty's A2 rating, and thus no longer constrains the rating of Feria Valencia's insured debt. As a result, Moody's has upgraded the rating on the insured debt to the level of Assured Guaranty's rating.

The rating on the debt absent the guarantee from Assured Guaranty (the underlying debt) has been upgraded to Ba2 from B1, in line with the Generalitat de Valencia's rating of Ba2.

RATIONALE FOR OUTLOOK CHANGES TO POSITIVE

Moody's believes that the country's improving medium-term economic prospects, reflected in the upgrade of Spain's rating and outlook change, will gradually result in higher tax revenue and growing state transfers for regions. These elements will help them rebalance their budgets in the future.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

An upgrade of Spain's sovereign rating would result in upward pressure on Spanish sub-sovereign ratings. In addition, for regions not rated on par or above the sovereign rating, significant improvements in their fiscal and financial performance could lead Moody's to upgrade their ratings.

In contrast, a downgrade of Spain's sovereign rating, any indication of weakening government support for the regions, or a deterioration in their fiscal performance would likely lead to a downgrade of sub-sovereign entities.

RATINGS AFFECTED

- Basque Country: long-term issuer and debt ratings upgraded to Baa1 from Baa2; outlook changed to positive;

- Diputacion Foral de Bizkaia: long-term issuer rating upgraded to Baa1 from Baa2; outlook changed to positive;

- Comunidad Autonoma de Madrid: long-term issuer rating upgraded to Baa2 from Baa3; outlook changed to positive;

- Junta de Castilla y Leon: long-term issuer and debt ratings upgraded to Baa2 from Baa3; outlook changed to positive;

- Comunidad Autonoma de Galicia: long-term issuer and debt ratings upgraded to Baa2 from Baa3; outlook changed to positive;

- City of Barcelona: long-term issuer rating upgraded to Baa2 from Baa3; outlook changed to positive.

- Junta de Extremadura: long-term issuer rating upgraded to Baa3 from Ba1; outlook changed to positive;

- Junta de Andalucia: long-term issuer and debt ratings upgraded to Ba1 from Ba2; outlook changed to positive;

- Comunidad Autonoma de Murcia: long-term issuer and debt ratings upgraded to Ba2 from Ba3; outlook changed to positive;

- Junta de Comunidades de Castilla-La Mancha: long-term issuer and debt ratings upgraded to Ba2 from Ba3; outlook changed to positive;

- Generalitat de Catalunya: long-term issuer and debt ratings upgraded to Ba2 from Ba3; outlook changed to positive; short-term rating affirmed at Not-Prime;

- Generalitat de Valencia: debt rating upgraded to Ba2 from B1; outlook changed to positive; short-term rating affirmed at Not-Prime;

- Instituto Valenciano de Finanzas: debt rating upgraded to Ba2 from B1; outlook changed to positive, in line with Valencia's ratings;

- Notes of CACSA and Universities of Valencia (Universidad de Valencia, Universidad de Alicante, Universidad Jaume 1 de Castellón and Universidad Politécnica de Valencia) upgraded to Ba2 from B1; outlooks changed to positive;

- Notes of Feria Valencia: underlying rating upgraded to Ba2 from B1; outlook changed to positive (A and B Certificates). Feria Valencia's insured debt upgraded to A2 from A3, in line with Assured Guaranty (Europe) Ltd's rating of A2.

The sovereign action required the publication of these credit ratings on a date that deviates from the previously scheduled release date in the sovereign release calendar, published on www.moodys.com.

Specific economic indicators as required by EU regulation are not applicable for these entities

On 25 February 2014, a rating committee was called to discuss Spanish sub-sovereign ratings. The main points raised during the discussion were: The systemic risk in which the issuers operate has materially decreased.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Regional and Local Governments published in January 2013. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

Moody's methodology for rating a security insured by a financial guarantor considers the higher of (i) the guarantor's rating, and (ii) the underlying rating of the security. In cases where the guarantee does not fully mitigate the risks embedded in the country ceiling of the country in which the issuer operates, the security's rating may be constrained at the country ceiling's level. The country ceiling concept is described in Moody's Local Currency Country Ceiling for Bonds and Other Local Currency Obligations cross-sector rating methodology, published in March 2013.

The weighting of all rating factors is described in the methodology used in this rating action, if applicable.

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.

Marisol Blazquez
Analyst
Sub-Sovereign Group
Moody's Investors Service Espana, S.A.
Calle Principe de Vergara, 131, 6 Planta
Madrid 28002
Spain
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

David M Rubinoff
MD - Sub-Sovereigns
Sub-Sovereign Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Sebastien Hay
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Sub-Sovereign Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Espana, S.A.
Calle Principe de Vergara, 131, 6 Planta
Madrid 28002
Spain
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's upgrades ratings of all Spanish sub-sovereigns; changes outlooks to positive from stable
No Related Data.
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