07.11.2012 12:47
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Zambia, Government of -- Moody's assigns B1 ratings to Zambia, stable outlook

First-time public rating assignment

London, 07 November 2012 -- Moody's Investors Service has today assigned local- and foreign-currency issuer ratings of B1 to the government of Zambia. The outlook on these ratings is stable.

The B1 ratings reflect the following key factors:

1) Expectation of continued rapid growth, which should support economic diversification and over time increase the country's low wealth levels.

2) The country's track record of political stability, which benefits its developing institutional strength.

3) Zambia's low albeit improved financial strength, following debt forgiveness from official creditors in 2006.

At the same time, Moody's has assigned Zambia a Baa3 local-currency country risk ceiling, which is the maximum credit rating achievable in local currency for a debt issuer domiciled in that country. Moody's has also assigned Zambia a Ba2 foreign-currency bond country ceiling and a B2 country ceiling for foreign-currency bank deposits. These ceilings are lower than the local-currency ceiling as they also capture foreign-currency transfer and convertibility risks.

RATINGS RATIONALE

The first key factor underlying Moody's assignment of a B1 rating to Zambia is our expectation of a continuation of the rapid economic growth that the country has enjoyed in recent years due to buoyant global copper prices and production, combined with growing foreign direct investment (FDI). Moody's expects Zambia's economy to grow by 7.3% in 2012, up from 6.6% in 2011, on the back of strong growth in copper and agricultural output, in addition to the government's expansionary fiscal stance. GDP growth averaged 6.5% over the past five years, reaching a peak of 7.6% in 2010. Zambia's strong economic growth performance however is balanced against a low per capita GDP on a purchasing power parity basis, relative to its B1-rated peers, and an undiversified economic base in which subsistence agriculture accounts for around 70% of employment.

The second key factor supporting Zambia's B1 ratings is the country's track record of political stability which, in turn, benefits its developing institutional strength. This was highlighted by the peaceful transfer of power to the current administration last year, following two decades of political dominance by the previous Movement for Muli-party Democracy government. Moody's expects the current government to continue to implement prudent macroeconomic policies, with an emphasis on attracting FDI, alongside a commitment to increasing employment and improving social conditions. However, structural constraints such as widespread poverty continue to hinder the country's institutional development, as reflected in its relatively low scores on the World Bank's indicies for 'government effectiveness' and 'rule of law'.

The third key factor underpinning Zambia's B1 ratings is our expectation that the government's low financial strength will continue to improve. In 2006, the country benefited significantly from an official debt forgiveness initiative. General government debt as a percentage of GDP stood at 26% in 2011, compared to 88% in 2005, a year before debt forgiveness. Although the current government is committed to a policy of fiscal prudence, the country faces significant spending pressures due to public-sector labour demands for higher wages, social spending needs and large-scale infrastructure requirements. In April 2012 for instance, the government granted higher-than-budgeted increases in basic salaries to government workers. Moody's expects Zambia's to post a budget deficit of 4.1% in 2012, compared to 3% in 2011.

RATIONALE FOR STABLE OUTLOOK

The stable outlook on Zambia's B1 ratings reflects Moody's expectations of continued high economic growth and the maintenance of a prudent macroeconomic policy framework.

WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

Moody's would upgrade Zambia's ratings if the government's economic reform and investment programmes were to lead to a material increase in economic diversification and employment. A significant improvement in Zambia's institutional strength would also exert upward pressure on its ratings.

Conversely, Moody's would downgrade Zambia's ratings in the event of a sustained drop in global copper demand and prices, resulting in a significant deterioration in the government's fiscal imbalance and the country's external position.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Sovereign Bond Ratings published in September 2008. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

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.

These ratings were initiated by Moody's and were not requested by the rated entities.

These rated entities or related third parties did not participate in the rating process. Moody's was not provided, for purposes of the rating, access to the books, records and other relevant internal documents of the rated entity or related third party.

The ratings have been disclosed to the rated entities or their designated agent(s) and issued with no amendment resulting from that disclosure.

Information sources used to prepare each of the ratings are the following: parties not involved in the ratings, and public information.

Moody's considers the quality of information available on the rated entities, obligations or credits satisfactory for the purposes of issuing these ratings.

Moody's adopts all necessary measures so that the information it uses in assigning the ratings 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 entities or their 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.

Weyinmi Omamuli Vice President - Senior Analyst Sovereign Risk Group Moody'sInvestors Service Ltd. One Canada SquareCanary WharfLondon E14 5FA United Kingdom JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456 SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454 Bart Oosterveld MD - Sovereign Risk Sovereign Risk Group JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376 SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653 Releasing Office: Moody's Investors Service Ltd. One Canada SquareCanary WharfLondon E14 5FA United Kingdom 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.

CREDIT RATINGS ISSUED BY MOODY'S INVESTORS SERVICE, INC. ("MIS") AND ITS AFFILIATES ARE MOODY'S CURRENT OPINIONS OF THE RELATIVE FUTURE CREDIT RISK OF ENTITIES, CREDIT COMMITMENTS, OR DEBT OR DEBT-LIKE SECURITIES, AND CREDIT RATINGS AND RESEARCH PUBLICATIONS PUBLISHED BY MOODY'S ("MOODY'S PUBLICATIONS") MAY INCLUDE MOODY'S CURRENT OPINIONS OF THE RELATIVE FUTURE CREDIT RISK OF ENTITIES, CREDIT COMMITMENTS, OR DEBT OR DEBT-LIKE SECURITIES. MOODY'S DEFINES CREDIT RISK AS THE RISK THAT AN ENTITY MAY NOT MEET ITS CONTRACTUAL, FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS AS THEY COME DUE AND ANY ESTIMATED FINANCIAL LOSS IN THE EVENT OF DEFAULT. CREDIT RATINGS DO NOT ADDRESS ANY OTHER RISK, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: LIQUIDITY RISK, MARKET VALUE RISK, OR PRICE VOLATILITY. CREDIT RATINGS AND MOODY'S OPINIONS INCLUDED IN MOODY'S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT STATEMENTS OF CURRENT OR HISTORICAL FACT. CREDIT RATINGS AND MOODY'S PUBLICATIONS DO NOT CONSTITUTE OR PROVIDE INVESTMENT OR FINANCIAL ADVICE, AND CREDIT RATINGS AND MOODY'S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT AND DO NOT PROVIDE RECOMMENDATIONS TO PURCHASE, SELL, OR HOLD PARTICULAR SECURITIES. NEITHER CREDIT RATINGS NOR MOODY'S PUBLICATIONS COMMENT ON THE SUITABILITY OF AN INVESTMENT FOR ANY PARTICULAR INVESTOR. MOODY'S ISSUES ITS CREDIT RATINGS AND PUBLISHES MOODY'S PUBLICATIONS WITH THE EXPECTATION AND UNDERSTANDING THAT EACH INVESTOR WILL MAKE ITS OWN STUDY AND EVALUATION OF EACH SECURITY THAT IS UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR PURCHASE, HOLDING, OR SALE.

ALL INFORMATION CONTAINED HEREIN IS PROTECTED BY LAW, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO, COPYRIGHT LAW, AND NONE OF SUCH INFORMATION MAY BE COPIED OR OTHERWISE REPRODUCED, REPACKAGED, FURTHER TRANSMITTED, TRANSFERRED,DISSEMINATED, REDISTRIBUTED OR RESOLD, OR STORED FOR SUBSEQUENT USE FOR ANY SUCH PURPOSE, IN WHOLE OR IN PART, IN ANY FORM OR MANNER OR BY ANY MEANS WHATSOEVER, BY ANY PERSON WITHOUT MOODY'S PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT.

All information contained herein is obtained by MOODY'S from sources believed by it to be accurate and reliable. Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error as well as other factors, however, all information contained herein is provided "AS IS" without warranty of any kind. MOODY'S adopts all necessary measures so that the information it uses in assigning a credit 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. Under no circumstances shall MOODY'S have any liability to any person or entity for (a) any loss or damage in whole or in part caused by, resulting from, or relating to, any error negligent or otherwise or other circumstance or contingency within or outside the control of MOODY'S or any of its directors, officers, employees or agents in connection with the procurement, collection, compilation, analysis, interpretation, communication, publication or delivery of any such information, or (b) any direct, indirect, special, consequential, compensatory or incidental damages whatsoever (including without limitation, lost profits), even if MOODY'S is advised in advance of the possibility of such damages, resulting from the use of or inability to use, any such information. The ratings, financial reporting analysis, projections, and other observations, if any, constituting part of the information contained herein are, and must be construed solely as, statements of opinion and not statements of fact or recommendations to purchase, sell or hold any securities. Each user of the information contained herein must make its own study and evaluation of each security it may consider purchasing, holding or selling.

NO WARRANTY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, AS TO THE ACCURACY, TIMELINESS, COMPLETENESS, MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR ANY PARTICULAR PURPOSE OF ANY SUCH RATING OR OTHER OPINION OR INFORMATION IS GIVEN OR MADE BY MOODY'S IN ANY FORM OR MANNER WHATSOEVER.

MIS, a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of Moody's Corporation ("MCO"), hereby discloses that most issuers of debt securities (including corporate and municipal bonds, debentures, notes and commercial paper) and preferred stock rated by MIS have, prior to assignment of any rating, agreed to pay to MIS for appraisal and rating services rendered by it fees ranging from $1,500 to approximately $2,500,000. MCO and MIS also maintain policies and procedures to address the independence of MIS's ratings and rating processes. Information regarding certain affiliations that may exist between directors of MCO and rated entities, and between entities who hold ratings from MIS and have also publicly reported to the SEC an ownership interest in MCO of more than 5%, is posted annually at www.moodys.com under the heading "Shareholder Relations -- Corporate Governance -- Director and Shareholder Affiliation Policy."

Any publication into Australia of this document is by MOODY'S affiliate, Moody's Investors Service Pty Limited ABN 61 003 399 657, which holds Australian Financial Services License no. 336969. This document is intended to be provided only to "wholesale clients" within the meaning of section 761G of the Corporations Act 2001. By continuing to access this document from within Australia, you represent to MOODY'S that you are, or are accessing the document as a representative of, a "wholesale client" and that neither you nor the entity you represent will directly or indirectly disseminate this document or its contents to "retail clients" within the meaning of section 761G of the Corporations Act 2001.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, credit ratings assigned on and after October 1, 2010 by Moody's Japan K.K. ("MJKK") are MJKK's current opinions of the relative future credit risk of entities, credit commitments, or debt or debt-like securities. In such a case, "MIS" in the foregoing statements shall be deemed to be replaced with "MJKK". MJKK is a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of Moody's Group Japan G.K., which is wholly owned by Moody's Overseas Holdings Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of MCO.

This credit rating is an opinion as to the creditworthiness or a debt obligation of the issuer, not on the equity securities of the issuer or any form of security that is available to retail investors. It would be dangerous for retail investors to make any investment decision based on this credit rating. If in doubt you should contact your financial or other professional adviser.

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