Rating agencies downgrade big Russian companies

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Credit rating agency Fitch downgraded the debt ratings of 28 Russian commodity companies on Saturday, saying “default” seemed likely.

Fitch lowered the rating from B to “mostly CC” of gas giant Gazprom, oil company Lukoil, mining companies Rusal, Polyus, Evraz and 23 other commodities companies. This means that it is “probable” that these companies will not be able to meet their financial obligations.

For the rating agency, the authorization given by the Russian government to pay in rubles the debts contracted by listed “enemy” countries could harm the ability of these companies to pay their creditors on time.

This list includes all European Union countries, Australia, United Kingdom, Canada, Monaco, South Korea, United States, Switzerland and Japan.

This decision is part of a package of measures taken by the Kremlin and the Russian Central Bank to try to mitigate the collapse of the national currency, which has lost half of its value due to the sanctions imposed by Western powers on Russia after the invasion of Ukraine.

Fitch believes that “the continued tightening of sanctions, including restrictions on trade and energy imports, increases the likelihood of a political response from Russia and weakens its economy, creating a (hostile) business environment for companies. “.

Britain announced a ban on Russian oil on Tuesday, as did the United States on oil and gas.

Moody’s, another rating agency, this week downgraded Gazprom and Lukoil to a level that carries extremely high default risk.

In early March, three major rating agencies placed Russia in the category of those who cannot pay its long-term debt, due to the backlog of sanctions against it.

Fitch later downgraded that rating, saying Russia faces “imminent default” on its debt.

The lower the performance score, the less confidence lenders have in that country, so the outlook for borrowing at reasonable interest rates is very complex.


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