Container Cash

Sept 21, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s Aitken Spence has to raise 4.5 billion rupees for its stake in a new port terminal, which if funded by debt might invite a downgrade of its ‘AA(lka)’ rating, Fitch Ratings said. Fitch Ratings Lanka is reviewing Aitken Spence’s (ASP) senior unsecured notes’ ‘AA(lka)’ National Long-term rating following the announcement of the groups participation in the south container terminal development project in Colombo port, a statement said.

Fitch said it is seeking further information on the amount of investment and its funding, coupled with the information on project cash flows and dividend inflows to ASP when the terminal commences operations in the 2014 financial year.

The company has not announced how its share of the investment would be financed.

Fitch said it notes that the terminal is estimated to cost 450 million US dollars (50 billion rupees), and expects that Aitken Spence will have to infuse up to 4.5 billion rupees into the project company for its 30 percent stake.

” . . . there is a possibility of a negative rating action if ASP’s investment in the terminal project is largely funded by increased debt borrowings at the holding company,” Fitch Ratings said.