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Lebanon Moody’s Rating Cut to Same Grade as Venezuela

Lebanon Moody’s Rating Cut to Same Grade as Venezuela

Wednesday, 29 July, 2020 - 04:30
A Lebanese anti-government protester, wrapped in a national flag, stands in front of a road blocked with burning tyres and overtunrned garbage dumpsteres in Beirut. (File photo: Reuters)
Beirut - Asharq Al-Awsat

Lebanon had its rating cut to the lowest grade by Moody’s Investors Service, which said that bond investors will likely suffer major losses on their holdings as the government struggles to secure aid to ease a crippling financial crisis.

Moody’s lowered Lebanon’s credit score to C from Ca, the same level as crisis-ravaged Venezuela. It reflects Moody’s “assessment that the losses incurred by bondholders through Lebanon’s current default are likely to exceed 65 percent,” the agency said in a statement.

“In the absence of key steps toward plausible economic and fiscal policy reform, official external funding support to accompany a government debt restructuring is not forthcoming.”

Lebanon, which has already defaulted on billions of dollars in debt this year, is struggling to secure an International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan deal amid crisis.

However, Lebanon's Economy Minister Raoul Nehme said in an interview with Bloomberg that the country may only count on the IMF for as little as half the bailout it had originally sought.

With talks over a $10 billion loan program stalling for much of this month, the IMF could provide an amount in a range of $5 billion to $9 billion, Nehme said.

Should negotiations succeed, Lebanon will look to cover the rest of its $30 billion in total needs by seeking help from allies and capitalizing on pledges of about $11 billion made by international donors in 2018 in exchange for a promise of reforms, according to Nehme.

“All of them are waiting for the IMF, in my opinion,” he said.

Without an IMF bailout, Lebanon is looking at a “real black scenario,” and officials are working hard to secure a package as quickly as possible, he stressed.

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