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03.12.2012 13:06

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Rhoen-Klinikum AG -- Moody's downgrades Rhoen-Klinikum AG to Baa3, outlook negative

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Frankfurt am Main, December 03, 2012 -- Moody's Investors Service has today downgraded Rhoen-Klinikum AG's long term issuer rating and the rating of its senior unsecured notes by one notch to Baa3. The outlook is negative.

RATINGS RATIONALE

The action reflects disappointing Q3 2012 figures resulting in another revision of Rhoen's 2012 EBITDA forecast to EUR295m from EUR350m at the beginning of the year, mainly driven by ongoing challenges in turning around University Hospital Giessen and Marburg ("UKGM") as well as higher than expected cost inflation.

Constant public debate and the highly political nature of private hospital ownership in Germany, which is even more relevant in the case of university hospitals, such as UKGM, make it difficult to forecast how successful the new management team will be in materially improving the situation and/or how long this process may take. Whereas Moody's still expects 2013 trading levels to improve reflecting partly the non-recurring nature of the negative one-off effects of Fresenius SE & Co. KGaA bid in 2012 and the recent management change, we expect the profitability recovery to remain moderate and be subject to downward risks so that leverage levels will remain elevated for at least next 12-18 months. The restructuring program initiated to turn UKGM's performance around will also need time to deliver results. The historically negative free cash flow generation of Rhoen, associated with large capital needs and acquisitions and resulting limited ability to reduce its debt materially in the short-term, does not offer much tolerance for negative surprises. Leverage and cash flow coverage ratios as per end of September 2012, with debt/EBITDA at 3.2x, and RCF/net debt at 18.9% position Rhoen weakly in the Baa3 rating category, hence the negative outlook.

Moody's Baa3 long-term issuer rating for RKA reflects: (i) its market position as one of the leading private hospital operators in Germany, with a solidly diversified hospital network and an increasing coverage of the outpatient market as a result of opening or purchasing medical care centers; (ii) its track record of organic growth, as reflected by a steady rise in the number of admissions and by external growth through the acquisition, integration and restructuring of hospitals; (iii) its stable and recurring revenue base; and (iv) its good liquidity cushion.

The rating also reflects: (i) limited free cash flow generation driven by high capital expenditures /periodic acquisition spend and dividend payments; (ii) continued pressure on the company's profitability stemming from cost inflation, with limited prospects of higher reimbursement rates, driving the need for constant efficiency improvements and rising patient numbers; and (iii) challenges posed by achieving or maintaining efficiencies for lower profitability/restructured clinics.

Outlook

The negative outlook anticipates that, although Rhoen should gradually recover trading margins and absolute EBITDA over the 2013-2014 period, the gross leverage may remain elevated at above 3.0x over the next 12-18 months (current estimated level for full year 2012 is 3.3x). Failure to achieve progress in improving UKGM situation and/or further margin pressure from cost inflation or sizeable acquisition spend would also lead to negative rating pressure.

What Could Change the Rating -- UP (Baa2)

Upward rating pressure is currently unlikely but could be driven by longer-term improvements in RKA's business profile, including a broader regional diversification, but primarily by a sustainable generation of credit metrics that are in line with mid range of the Baa rating category, such as an RCF/net debt ratio of above 30% and gross leverage sustainably below 2.5x. In addition, we would expect sustainable positive FCF generation.

What Could Change the Rating -- DOWN (Ba1)

The ratings could be downgraded if: (i) RKA's profitability deteriorates, which would be reflected by the company's EBITDA margin falling below 10% and material negative free cash flows; (ii) gross leverage increases sustainably above 3.25x; (iii) the company's RCF/net debt ratio falls sustainably below 20%; or (iv) RKA fails to preserve its attractive liquidity profile or significantly increases its capital expenditure commitments.

The principal methodology used in rating Rhoen-Klinikum AG was the Global Healthcare Service Providers Industry Methodology published in December 2011. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

Rhoen-Klinikum ("RKA" or "the company") is one of the leading private hospital operators in Germany. Over last twelve months ending September 2012, the company generated revenues of around EUR2.8 billion.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides relevant regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides relevant regulatory disclosures in relation to the rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides relevant regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

The rating has been disclosed to the rated entity or its designated agent(s) and issued with no amendment resulting from that disclosure.

Information sources used to prepare the rating are the following : parties involved in the ratings, public information, confidential and proprietary Moody's Investors Service information, and confidential and proprietary Moody's Analytics information.

Moody's considers the quality of information available on the rated entity, obligation or credit satisfactory for the purposes of issuing a rating.

Moody's adopts all necessary measures so that the information it uses in assigning a rating is of sufficient quality and from sources Moody's considers to be reliable including, when appropriate, independent third-party sources. However, Moody's is not an auditor and cannot in every instance independently verify or validate information received in the rating process.

Moody's Investors Service may have provided Ancillary or Other Permissible Service(s) to the rated entity or its related third parties within the two years preceding the credit rating action. Please see the special report "Ancillary or other permissible services provided to entities rated by MIS's EU credit rating agencies" on the ratings disclosure page on our website www.moodys.com for further information.

Please see the ratings disclosure page on www.moodys.com for general disclosure on potential conflicts of interests.

Please see the ratings disclosure page on www.moodys.com for information on (A) MCO's major shareholders (above 5%) and for (B) further information regarding certain affiliations that may exist between directors of MCO and rated entities as well as (C) the names of entities that hold ratings from MIS that have also publicly reported to the SEC an ownership interest in MCO of more than 5%. A member of the board of directors of this rated entity may also be a member of the board of directors of a shareholder of Moody's Corporation; however, Moody's has not independently verified this matter.

Please see Moody's Rating Symbols and Definitions on the Rating Process page on www.moodys.com for further information on the meaning of each rating category and the definition of default and recovery.

Please see ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the last rating action and the rating history.

The date on which some ratings were first released goes back to a time before Moody's ratings were fully digitized and accurate data may not be available. Consequently, Moody's provides a date that it believes is the most reliable and accurate based on the information that is available to it. Please see the ratings disclosure page on our website www.moodys.com for further information.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Alex Verbov Vice President - Senior Analyst Corporate Finance Group Moody'sDeutschland GmbH An der Welle 5 Frankfurt am Main 60322 Germany JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456 SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454 Matthias Hellstern Managing Director Corporate Finance Group JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456 SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454 Releasing Office: Moody's Deutschland GmbH An der Welle 5 Frankfurt am Main 60322 Germany JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456 SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454 (C) 2012 Moody's Investors Service, Inc. and/or its licensors and affiliates (collectively, "MOODY'S"). All rights reserved.

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