S&P lowers Belgian railway group SNCBH's rating to AA-.
The short-term issuer credit rating was kept intact at A-1+ and both ratings were removed from "negative" watch.
However, the long-term rating may go down as implied by the "negative" outlook.
The service cited financial problems at SNCBH's wholly owned subsidiary, the national rail operator SNCB, as the main reason for the rating reduction. Lower-than-expected performance of SNCB resulted in higher debt causing a revision of the stand-alone credit profile (SACP) of SNCBH to "bb-" from "bb+" and of its long-term rating to AA- from AA.
The ratings still incorporate "extremely high" probability of extraordinary government support to SNCBH.
At the same time, the agency anticipates a return to positive operating cash flows at SNCBH and SNCB next year.
Rating agency website: www.standardandpoors.com