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Russia’s rating may be downgraded — minister

October 14, 2014, 20:40 UTC+3

Russia’s Minister of Economic Development Alexey Ulyukayev, however, estimated the risk of Russia not being able to repay foreign debt at zero

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© ITAR-TASS/Mikhail Japaridze

MOSCOW, October 14. /TASS/. Russia’s Minister of Economic Development Alexey Ulyukayev said on Tuesday he did not exclude downgrading of Russia’s sovereign ratings by international agencies.

“Today, there are expectation, there are rumours that international rating agencies might downgrade Russia’s sovereign ratings,” he told journalists.

Such actions, according to Ulyukayev, would only give away incompetence or partiality.

“What is a rating agency’s rating? It is a rating of long-term solvency, creditability. In simple terms, it implies confidence that we are able to repay our foreign debt,” he noted, adding that Russia’s current foreign debt is less than 3% of the GDP, while its entire public debt is 11% of the GDP. “It means that if need be this debt can be repaid within one year.”

There is zero risk, in his words, that the debt is not paid. “In whatever light we view it, macroeconomic and financial structures are very stable and there is no risk that this tiny foreign debt is miraculously not paid,” he added.

He said that downgrading of Russia’s sovereign rating would create a tense situation with debts in the corporate sector. “In an ordinary situation, it tells on the cost of the sovereign debt. But this is not our case, since we have practically no foreign debts. But the problem is that corporate ratings in such cases are downgraded almost automatically. They are dependent on the sovereign rating this or that way,” Ulyukayev noted. Mass revision of corporate ratings, in his words, worsened refinancing terms for companies. Moreover, their access to global capital markets would be impeded, he added.

That is why, he stressed, it is necessary to spur efforts to create a national rating system. “A bill is now being elaborated on Russia’s rating system. I hope it will include provisions on how, what for, and what kind of ratings can be used and on requirements and criteria to rating agencies,” he said.

According to earlier reports, in April 2014 S&P downgraded Russia’s sovereign rating in foreign currency from BBB to BBB-with a negative outlook, explaining the step by capital drain from the country in the first quarter of 2014 and reduced possibilities to attract financing from foreign financial market. In July 2014, Fitch confirmed Russia’s long-term foreign and national currency default rating at BBB.

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