Thursday, April 24, 2014

Moody's cuts Cuba rating on risk from Venezuela turmoil

Moody's cuts Cuba rating on risk from Venezuela turmoil
Agence France-Presse April 24, 2014 2:16am

Moody's cut Cuba's credit rating Wednesday by one notch, citing its
vulnerability to a shock increase in fuel costs arising from turmoil in
supplier Venezuela.

Moody's also cited the risk of a rocky political transition in the
Caribbean island in the wake of the Castro regime as it cut the rating
to Caa2 from Caa1, well into "speculative" territory for debt.

"Cuba relies heavily upon Venezuela for oil, which is imported with
favorable financing terms through Petrocaribe," the credit rating firm said.

"Given Venezuela's increasingly unsustainable macroeconomic imbalances
and elevated risk of an economic and financial collapse, the future of
this arrangement is uncertain, rendering Cuba vulnerable to a sharp
adjustment in the cost of energy imports."

It noted that energy imports cost the country $6.5 billion in 2012,
nearly half of its total import bill.

Moody's also warned of "an abrupt and disorderly political transition,"
with revolutionary strongman Fidel Castro now 87 and his brother Raul
Castro, Cuba's president, 82.

"While President Castro recently indicated that his current term will be
his last and, at the same time, appointed a first vice president of the
Council of State of Cuba, there is considerable uncertainty around the
future state of Cuba's political economy."

While Cuba is deeply restricted in its ability to tap international
capital markets, Moody's noted that Havana might be weighing reopening
negotiations with the "Paris Club" of bondholders to resolve claims on
long-defaulted debt.

Cuba has made tentative steps to open up its long-isolated economy,
including passing a new law late last month to ease the way for foreign

But the economy still suffers under tight communist rule and a
five-decade-old embargo maintained by the United States.

The government of close ally Venezuela has long given Havana a
sweetheart deal on oil imports.

But with Venezuela's own economy sinking under mismanagement and
political turmoil, and its own import bill soaring, Moody's suggests
Caracas could be forced to change its stance towards Cuba to stabilize
its own finances.


Source: Moody's cuts Cuba rating on risk from Venezuela turmoil |
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