CHICAGO — Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded nearly $2 billion of outstanding tax-exempt gas prepayment bonds and warned that another $1.9 billion could be cut due to the recent rating downgrade for BP Corporation North America Inc.
The agency downgraded all outstanding prepayment gas bonds it rates that maintain significant ties to BP, analysts said. The move affected three natural gas suppliers.
A fourth supplier was placed on review for possible downgrade. In all cases, BP acted as either a gas supplier or as a liquidity provider or both to the downgraded entities.
Moody’s and Fitch Ratings downgraded BP Plc and its subsidiaries last week, citing costs caused by the massive oil spill from a deepwater oil well operated by the company in the Gulf of Mexico.
Moody’s downgraded $500 million of bonds issued by Nebraska-based American Public Energy Agency. The variable-rate debt, which was issued in 2003 and 2005, is now rated Aa3/VMIG-1, down from Aa2-VMIG-1.
The supplier is under review for further downgrade, the agency said. BP acted as both a gas supplier to AEPA and has provided the agency with a standby bond purchase agreement.
Roughly $425 million of tax-exempt bonds issued in 2005 by the Mississippi Development Bank were downgraded to Aa3/VMIG-1 from Aa2/VMIG1 and are under review for further downgrade. BP acted as a gas supplier to the bank.
Also downgraded was $1 billion of variable-rate bonds issued by the Public Energy Authority of Kentucky Inc. to Aa3/VMIG-1 from Aa2-VMIG-1. BP acted as gas supplier to the authority and also as provider of a standby bond purchase agreement in the 2006 transaction, Moody’s said.
Moody’s has not yet lowered its rating but has placed under review for possible downgrade the Aa3 rating of Texas Municipal Gas Acquisition & Supply Corp. II. The supplier has $1.9 billion of outstanding variable-rate bonds issued in 2007. In this case, BP is the commodity swap provider.
On June 3, Moody’s downgraded the senior unsecured ratings of BP Plc to Aa2 from Aa1, and the long-term issuer credit ratings of BP Corporation North America Inc. and BP Finance Plc to Aa3 from Aa2. The debt remains on watch for further possible downgrade, the agency said.
“Moody’s expects these costs to weigh significantly on BP’s free cash-flow generating capacity and to constrain its ability to focus on other key areas of the company’s business in the near to intermediate term,” the rating agency said in a statement.
Fitch lowering its rating on the oil giant to AA from AA-plus.