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Fitch Revises Autonomous Community of the Basque Country's Outlook to Positive; Affirms at 'BBB+'
September 1, 2017 / 8:13 PM / 4 months ago

Fitch Revises Autonomous Community of the Basque Country's Outlook to Positive; Affirms at 'BBB+'

(The following statement was released by the rating agency) Link to Fitch Ratings' Report: Autonomous Community of the Basque Country - Rating Action Report here BARCELONA/MILAN/LONDON, September 01 (Fitch) Fitch Ratings has revised the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country's (Basque Country) Outlook to Positive from Stable and affirmed the Long-Term Foreign and Local Currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at 'BBB+'. Fitch has also affirmed the Short-Term Foreign Currency IDR at 'F2'. The ratings on the senior unsecured outstanding bonds have also been affirmed at 'BBB+'. KEY RATING DRIVERS The Outlook revision reflects the following rating drivers and their relative weights: HIGH The Outlook revision reflects the revision of Spain's Outlook to Positive from Stable on 21 July 2017 (see 'Fitch Revises Spain's Outlook to Positive; Affirms IDRs at 'BBB+'' at www.fitchratings.com). According to our International Local and Regional Governments Rating Criteria, the Basque Country's IDRs are currently capped by that of the sovereign in light of the region's still recovering finances. The Basque Country's 'BBB+' IDRs also reflect the following key rating drivers: Strong Regional Economy With a 2016 GDP estimated at about EUR68.9 billion and a GDP per capita above 32.7% of the national average, the Basque Country's economy is strong and diversified. According to data from National Statistics, its nominal GDP grew 3.5% in 2016 after a 4.1% rise in 2015, and under Fitch base case scenario nominal GDP should continue to grow at a similar pace, due in part to inflation. Job creation stabilised in 1H17, at around 920,000 employees, still well below the 980,000 recorded in 2008. Nevertheless, It had a higher-than-average employment rate of 49.8% in 2Q17 (48.7% nationally), and the government expects job creation to continue in the medium term (1.5% in 2018). Improving Fiscal Performance In 2016, preliminary results indicated an operating margin of 3.9%, confirming the slight improving trend after negative operating balances in the 2009- 2011 period. Tax performance in 1H17 was strong, and under Fitch base case scenario, its operating balance should continue its gradual improvement while its deficit should continue to narrow. High Debt but Sound Liquidity The expected improvement in fiscal performance will slow direct debt growth, which Fitch now estimates will reach EUR9.5 billion by end-2019 which will be almost the size of its forecast 2019 current revenue, versus 97% in 2016. Liquidity risk is limited as provincial administrations frequently transfer tax revenue to the Basque Country. Cash reserves increased again in 2016 to EUR616 million, from EUR358 million in 2014, covering 78% of the region's 2017 budgeted debt repayment. The Basque Country's debt metrics should further benefit from the central government's decision in May 2017 to reduce the contribution of the Basque public sector (regional government and three provincial governments) over the next five years. Fitch will soon assess its impact on the credit metrics of the regional government. RATING SENSITIVITIES A positive rating action may result from a structural operating margin above 5% in the medium term, and debt payback improving towards 20 years (2016: 50 years). An upgrade of the sovereign IDRs (BBB+/Positive/F2) would also result in an upgrade of the Basque Country's IDRs. A negative rating action may result from direct debt exceeding 120% of current revenue. Contact: Primary Analyst Guilhem Costes Senior Director +34933238410 Fitch Ratings Espana. S.A.U. Av. Diagonal, 601, Barcelona 08028 Secondary Analyst Julia Carner Analyst +34933238401 Committee Chairperson Raffaele Carnevale Senior Director +39 879087203 Media Relations: Peter Fitzpatrick, London, Tel: +44 20 3530 1103, Email: peter.fitzpatrick@fitchratings.com; Pilar Perez, Barcelona, Tel: +34 93 323 8414, Email: pilar.perez@fitchratings.com. Additional information is available on www.fitchratings.com Applicable Criteria International Local and Regional Governments Rating Criteria - Outside the United States (pub. 18 Apr 2016) here Additional Disclosures Dodd-Frank Rating Information Disclosure Form here Solicitation Status here#solicitation Endorsement Policy here ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: here. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY'S PUBLIC WEB SITE AT WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA, AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH'S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE, AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE CODE OF CONDUCT SECTION OF THIS SITE. DIRECTORS AND SHAREHOLDERS RELEVANT INTERESTS ARE AVAILABLE here. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH WEBSITE. Copyright © 2017 by Fitch Ratings, Inc., Fitch Ratings Ltd. and its subsidiaries. 33 Whitehall Street, NY, NY 10004. Telephone: 1-800-753-4824, (212) 908-0500. Fax: (212) 480-4435. Reproduction or retransmission in whole or in part is prohibited except by permission. All rights reserved. In issuing and maintaining its ratings and in making other reports (including forecast information), Fitch relies on factual information it receives from issuers and underwriters and from other sources Fitch believes to be credible. Fitch conducts a reasonable investigation of the factual information relied upon by it in accordance with its ratings methodology, and obtains reasonable verification of that information from independent sources, to the extent such sources are available for a given security or in a given jurisdiction. The manner of Fitch’s factual investigation and the scope of the third-party verification it obtains will vary depending on the nature of the rated security and its issuer, the requirements and practices in the jurisdiction in which the rated security is offered and sold and/or the issuer is located, the availability and nature of relevant public information, access to the management of the issuer and its advisers, the availability of pre-existing third-party verifications such as audit reports, agreed-upon procedures letters, appraisals, actuarial reports, engineering reports, legal opinions and other reports provided by third parties, the availability of independent and competent third- party verification sources with respect to the particular security or in the particular jurisdiction of the issuer, and a variety of other factors. Users of Fitch’s ratings and reports should understand that neither an enhanced factual investigation nor any third-party verification can ensure that all of the information Fitch relies on in connection with a rating or a report will be accurate and complete. Ultimately, the issuer and its advisers are responsible for the accuracy of the information they provide to Fitch and to the market in offering documents and other reports. In issuing its ratings and its reports, Fitch must rely on the work of experts, including independent auditors with respect to financial statements and attorneys with respect to legal and tax matters. Further, ratings and forecasts of financial and other information are inherently forward-looking and embody assumptions and predictions about future events that by their nature cannot be verified as facts. As a result, despite any verification of current facts, ratings and forecasts can be affected by future events or conditions that were not anticipated at the time a rating or forecast was issued or affirmed. The information in this report is provided “as is” without any representation or warranty of any kind, and Fitch does not represent or warrant that the report or any of its contents will meet any of the requirements of a recipient of the report. A Fitch rating is an opinion as to the creditworthiness of a security. This opinion and reports made by Fitch are based on established criteria and methodologies that Fitch is continuously evaluating and updating. Therefore, ratings and reports are the collective work product of Fitch and no individual, or group of individuals, is solely responsible for a rating or a report. The rating does not address the risk of loss due to risks other than credit risk, unless such risk is specifically mentioned. Fitch is not engaged in the offer or sale of any security. All Fitch reports have shared authorship. Individuals identified in a Fitch report were involved in, but are not solely responsible for, the opinions stated therein. The individuals are named for contact purposes only. A report providing a Fitch rating is neither a prospectus nor a substitute for the information assembled, verified and presented to investors by the issuer and its agents in connection with the sale of the securities. Ratings may be changed or withdrawn at any time for any reason in the sole discretion of Fitch. Fitch does not provide investment advice of any sort. Ratings are not a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold any security. Ratings do not comment on the adequacy of market price, the suitability of any security for a particular investor, or the tax-exempt nature or taxability of payments made in respect to any security. Fitch receives fees from issuers, insurers, guarantors, other obligors, and underwriters for rating securities. Such fees generally vary from US$1,000 to US$750,000 (or the applicable currency equivalent) per issue. In certain cases, Fitch will rate all or a number of issues issued by a particular issuer, or insured or guaranteed by a particular insurer or guarantor, for a single annual fee. Such fees are expected to vary from US$10,000 to US$1,500,000 (or the applicable currency equivalent). The assignment, publication, or dissemination of a rating by Fitch shall not constitute a consent by Fitch to use its name as an expert in connection with any registration statement filed under the United States securities laws, the Financial Services and Markets Act of 2000 of the United Kingdom, or the securities laws of any particular jurisdiction. Due to the relative efficiency of electronic publishing and distribution, Fitch research may be available to electronic subscribers up to three days earlier than to print subscribers. For Australia, New Zealand, Taiwan and South Korea only: Fitch Australia Pty Ltd holds an Australian financial services license (AFS license no. 337123) which authorizes it to provide credit ratings to wholesale clients only. Credit ratings information published by Fitch is not intended to be used by persons who are retail clients within the meaning of the Corporations Act 2001

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