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BP’s Russian venture TNK-BP dents credit rating

Times Online
September 2, 2008

BP’s Russian venture TNK-BP dents credit rating

BP’s Russian troubles rebounded on the group’s reputation yesterday when Standard & Poor’s lowered its corporate credit rating for the oil multinational.

Citing doubts over the long-term ownership of TNK-BP, S&P cut the rating on BP’s corporate debt from AA+ to AA. The agency also said that it had lowered the long-term corporate credit rating of BP Finance to AA- from AA.

As S&P cut BP’s ratings, it boosted the credit status of its arch-rival Royal Dutch Shell, raising Shell’s long-term credit rating to AA+ from AA.

After a review of the Dutch company’s performance, S&P said that the upgrade reflected the strength in its replacement of reserves and continuing strong profit generation.

BP’s troubles in its refining businesses in the United States were also blamed by the ratings agency for the decision to lower its perception of the oil company’s creditworthiness. S&P said that its reassessment reflected

“relative weaknesses that extend beyond the major issues at its two largest refineries [in the US]”.

The agency also pointed to BP’s big increase in the ordinary dividend and described it as “heavy” and “unexpected”. However, S&P did mention Shell’s “sustained moderation in growth of shareholder distributions”.

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