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Lipetsk Oblast 'BB/ruAA' Ratings Affirmed, Then Withdrawn Due To Contractual Issues

September 26, 2012 Standard & Poor's
MOSCOW (Standard & Poor's) Sept. 26, 2012--Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said today that it had affirmed its 'BB' long-term issuer credit rating and 'ruAA' Russia national scale rating on Russia's Lipetsk Oblast. The ratings were subsequently withdrawn due to contractual issues. At the time of withdrawal, the outlook was stable.

The ratings were constrained by the oblast's high dependence on a single taxpayer, metallurgy company OJSC NLMK (BBB-/Negative/--; Russia national scale 'ruAAA'), and the consequent volatility of its revenue and budgetary performance. The developing, unbalanced institutional framework under which Russian regions operate led to the oblast's low financial flexibility.

The ratings were supported by Lipetsk Oblast's modest debt levels and our view of financial management as neutral for creditworthiness in an international context.

At the point of withdrawal, the outlook on the oblast was stable, reflecting our opinion that despite an expected weakening of budgetary performance in 2012, Lipetsk Oblast would maintain a neutral liquidity position with cash and committed credit lines well exceeding debt service falling due within the next 12 months. Our outlook factored in the oblast's adherence to cautious financial management policies with continuing application of cost-containing measures and reliance on medium-term borrowing.