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Economic development minister hopes Russia’s investment rating won’t be lowered

In an interview with the RBC business media holding Alexey Ulyukayev believes decreasing Russia’s sovereign rating to “junk” level would be “irrational” as the situation is under control

MOSCOW, December 26. /TASS/. Russian Economic Development Minister Alexey Ulyukayev said on Friday he hopes that international rating agencies will not reduce Russia’s investment-grade credit rating.

“I hope that a decision will be taken not to cut the investment rating of Russia,” Ulyukayev said in an interview with the RBC business media holding, adding that decreasing Russia’s sovereign rating to “junk” level would be “irrational.”

Earlier this week, Standard&Poor’s said it considered lowering Russia’s rating to “junk” amid a “rapid deterioration of Russia’s monetary flexibility and the impact of the weakening economy on its financial system.”

Ulyukayev said additional explanations were needed to show that the situation in Russia is under control, despite the “real risks” primarily on the foreign currency market.

“But I believe that the difference of 2014-2015 from 2008 is that the budget system has become much more stable. The effect of a floating rate allows automatically balancing ruble revenues from the budget amid deteriorating environment on the market of export goods. The short-term external debt of business is less than at that time,” the minister said.

However, if Russia’s investment rating is be lowered, this will result in a negative effect, he said.

“Investment companies and funds will change their policies in regard to keeping assets linked to Russia’s economy in their portfolios. A number of agreements on loans and bonded debts include covenants, and some of them in case of lowered investment rating allow filing claims to clear debts earlier than envisaged by the original payment schedule,” Ulyukayev explained.

The overall corporate foreign debt worth around $670 billion has seriously decreased in 2014 and is currently estimated at less than 35% of GDP. “This is a rather comfortable situation. A short-term debt is much less than it was in 2008, and the payment schedule is rather comfortable. There is no reason to resort to extravagant measures,” he said.