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Ratings agency Standard and Poor's (S&P) report on lowering South Africa's long-term foreign currency credit rating one notch, to BBB- from BBB.

Ratings agency Standard and Poor's (S&P) report on lowering South Africa's long-term foreign currency credit rating one notch, to BBB- from BBB.

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South Africa Long-Term FC Rating
Lowered To 'BBB-'; LC Rating
Lowered To 'BBB+' On Ongoing Weak
Growth; Outlook Stable
Primary
South Africa Long-Term FC Rating
Lowered To 'BBB-'; LC Rating
Lowered To 'BBB+' On Ongoing Weak
Growth; Outlook Stable
Primary

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Research Update

:
South Africa Long-Term FC Rating
Lowered To 'BBB-'; LC Rating
Lowered To 'BBB+' On Ongoing Weak
Growth; Outlook Stable
Primary Credit Analyst:
Ravi Bhatia, London (44) 20-7176-7113; ravi.bhatia@standardandpoors.com
Secondary Contacts:
Christian Esters, CFA, Frankfurt (49) 69-33-999-242; christian.esters@standardandpoors.com
Gardner T Rusike, Johannesburg +27 (11) 214 1992; gardner.rusike@standardandpoors.com
Analytical Group Contact:
SovereignEurope; SovereignEurope@standardandpoors.com
Table Of Contents
Overview
Rating Action
Rationale
Outlook
Key Statistics
Related Criteria And Research
Ratings List
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Research Update:
South Africa Long-Term FC Rating Lowered To
'BBB-'; LC Rating Lowered To 'BBB+' On Ongoing
Weak Growth; Outlook Stable
Overview
• A prolonged strike in the platinum mining sector, as well as weak
domestic and external demand, has led to a contraction in GDP in the
first quarter of 2014 and is likely to depress second-quarter and
full-year GDP growth rates and reduce South Africa's fiscal flexibility.
• In addition, current account deficits are relatively high, and their
financing relies on potentially volatile capital flows.
• We are therefore lowering the long-term foreign currency rating on South
Africa to 'BBB-' from 'BBB' and the long-term local currency rating to
'BBB+' from 'A-'.
• The stable outlook reflects our view that current labor tensions will be
resolved and that lackluster economic performance will not affect South
Africa's fiscal and external balance beyond our revised expectations.
Rating Action
On June 13, 2014, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered the long-term
foreign currency sovereign credit rating on the Republic of South Africa to
'BBB-' from 'BBB' and the long-term local currency rating to 'BBB+' from 'A-'.
We also lowered the short-term foreign currency rating to 'A-3' from 'A-2' and
affirmed the short-term local currency rating at 'A-2'. The outlook is stable.
We also affirmed the long- and short-term South Africa national ratings at
'zaAAA' and 'zaA-1'.
Rationale
The downgrade reflects our expectation of lackluster GDP growth in South
Africa, against a backdrop of relatively high current account deficits, rising
general government debt, and the potential volatility and cost of external
financing.
A prolonged strike in the platinum sector, as well as weak domestic and
external demand, led GDP to contract in the first quarter of 2014 and is
likely to depress second-quarter GDP growth. The strike has led to a 25%
contraction in mining and quarrying output, and contributed to the overall
economy contracting by 0.6% of GDP in the first quarter of 2014. It will
likely lead either to another contraction or to only-feeble growth in the
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1332333 | 301337771
second quarter as well as disappointing growth for the full year.
We now expect full-year GDP growth of 1.9% in 2014, rising to 2.9% in 2015 and
3.2% in 2016. This follows slow growth of 1.9% in 2013 and 2.5% in 2012, also
partially due to prolonged strikes in the automotive sector in 2013 and the
mining sector's wildcat strikes of 2012, and highlights a prolonged lackluster
period for a country at this stage of development.
While South Africa's fiscal outturn has held up so far, the fiscal stance over
the next few years may become exposed to lower-than-expected economic growth,
pressures from a new round of public-sector wage negotiations, and increased
public spending needs. Although we expect the treasury to abide by its
expenditure ceiling, slowing growth may reduce revenues and possibly place
overall fiscal targets beyond reach.
General government debt, net of liquid assets, increased to 40% of GDP in
2013, from 23% in 2008, and we expect it to reach 46% by 2017. Although little
of the government's debt stock is denominated in foreign currency,
nonresidents hold 37% of the government's rand-denominated debt.
The ratings are also constrained by sizable current account deficits. Although
the rand floats and is an actively traded currency (according to the BIS
triennial survey of foreign exchange dealing, it is traded in 1.1% of global
foreign-exchange contracts), the portfolio and other investment flows that
finance these deficits can be volatile and can vary in price. Movements could
come from global changes in risk appetite or from foreign investors
reappraising prospective returns in the event of growth or policy slippage in
South Africa. While capital inflows have resumed since February 2014--after a
period of withdrawal--another reappraisal of risk is possible. Slow growth and
strikes may heighten both fiscal and external pressures.
While we think that President Jacob Zuma's newly elected administration will
continue the policies of his first administration, which controlled fiscal
expenditure and fostered broadly stable prices, we do not believe it will
manage to undertake major labor or other economic reforms that will
significantly boost GDP growth. At the same time, we also do not believe the
ANC-led government will entertain radical policies (such as the
nationalization of mines).
With 2014 per capita GDP estimated at $6,405, South Africa is a middle-income
country. We consider its economy to be diverse, yet with wide income
disparities. Per capita GDP growth has averaged a moderate 2.2% per year over
the past 10 years and we forecast it to fall to an average of 2% in 2014-2017.
We consider South Africa's contingent liabilities to currently be "limited,"
under our criteria. Nevertheless, the government has South African rand (ZAR)
350 billion (about 10% of GDP) available in potential guarantees for the
state-owned utility Eskom. Eskom currently uses about ZAR120 billion of these
guarantees. Eskom's operating margins have been hurt by the lack of rate
relief from the regulator as well as other factors and we believe Eskom's
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Research Update: South Africa Long-Term FC Rating Lowered To 'BBB-'; LC Rating Lowered To 'BBB+' On
Ongoing Weak Growth; Outlook Stable
funding needs may require the government's guarantee envelope to increase by
2017.
The long-term local currency sovereign rating on South Africa is two notches
above the long-term foreign currency sovereign rating. This is because we
believe that the sovereign's flexibility in its own currency is supported by
the South African Reserve Bank's independent monetary policy and a large
active local currency fixed-income market.
Outlook
The stable outlook reflects our view that current labor tensions will be
resolved and that lackluster economic performance will not affect South
Africa's fiscal and external balance beyond our revised expectations.
We could lower the ratings if South Africa's business and investment climate
weakens further, for instance if labor disputes fester. We could also lower
the ratings if external imbalances continue to increase, or funding for South
Africa's current account or fiscal deficits becomes more difficult or costly.
We could raise the ratings if an improvement in investment and economic growth
prospects produces stronger government and external debt positions than we
currently expect.
Key Statistics
Table 1
Republic of South Africa - Selected Indicators
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013e 2014f 2015f 2016f 2017f
Nominal GDP (US$ bil) 286 273 284 365 404 382 351 341 360 381 405
GDP per capita (US$) 5,769 5,434 5,584 7,098 7,775 7,298 6,637 6,405 6,698 7,035 7,410
Real GDP growth (%) 5.5 3.6 (1.5) 3.1 3.6 2.5 1.9 1.9 2.9 3.2 3.4
Real GDP per capita growth (%) 4.1 2.3 (2.7) 2.0 2.6 1.6 1.0 1.0 2.0 2.3 2.5
Change in general government
debt/GDP (%)
1.2 2.2 7.4 6.9 6.7 5.7 5.6 5.0 5.2 4.7 4.7
General government
balance/GDP (%)
1.7 (1.1) (6.6) (4.4) (3.8) (4.3) (4.0) (4.3) (3.9) (3.8) (3.6)
General government debt/GDP
(%)
28.6 27.8 33.4 37.0 40.5 43.5 46.0 47.6 48.9 49.5 49.9
Net general government
debt/GDP (%)
24.0 23.3 28.0 30.7 33.7 37.6 39.9 43.5 44.5 45.5 46.2
General government interest
expenditure/revenues (%)
8.4 8.0 8.6 8.7 9.1 9.7 10.0 10.5 10.5 10.5 N.M.
Oth dc claims on resident
non-govt. sector/GDP (%)
88.3 90.4 84.7 80.9 77.9 80.5 79.1 79.3 80.0 82.8 85.4
CPI growth (%) 6.1 9.9 7.2 4.3 5.0 5.6 5.7 6.0 5.7 5.6 5.4
Gross external financing
needs/CARs +use. res (%)
117.6 115.6 110.9 99.9 100.8 104.4 109.3 110.2 111.1 112.3 113.3
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Research Update: South Africa Long-Term FC Rating Lowered To 'BBB-'; LC Rating Lowered To 'BBB+' On
Ongoing Weak Growth; Outlook Stable
Table 1
Republic of South Africa - Selected Indicators (cont.)
Current account balance/GDP
(%)
(7.0) (7.2) (4.0) (2.0) (2.3) (5.2) (5.8) (5.4) (5.5) (5.4) (5.4)
Current account balance/CARs
(%)
(20.6) (18.9) (14.0) (6.6) (7.3) (16.7) (17.6) (16.9) (17.1) (17.6) (18.0)
Narrow net external debt/CARs
(%)
(0.7) 1.3 (5.1) 1.4 3.8 22.5 36.0 43.9 48.1 50.8 53.6
Net external liabilities/CARs (%) 97.7 23.0 68.9 86.9 23.9 26.2 34.1 52.9 67.8 83.6 99.4
Other depository corporations (dc) are financial corporations (other than the central bank) whose liabilities are included in the national
definition of broad money. Gross external financing needs are defined as current account payments plus short-term external debt at the end of
the prior year plus nonresident deposits at the end of the prior year plus long-term external debt maturing within the year. Narrow net external
debt is defined as the stock of foreign and local currency public- and private- sector borrowings from nonresidents minus official reserves minus
public-sector liquid assets held by nonresidents minus financial sector loans to, deposits with, or investments in nonresident entities. A negative
number indicates net external lending. CARs--Current account receipts.
The data and ratios above result from S&P’s own calculations, drawing on national as well as international sources, reflecting S&P’s
independent view on the timeliness, coverage, accuracy, credibility, and usability of available information.
Related Criteria And Research
Related Criteria
• Sovereign Government Rating Methodology And Assumptions, June 24, 2013
• Methodology For Linking Short-Term And Long-Term Ratings For Corporate,
Insurance, And Sovereign Issuers, May 7, 2013
• Criteria For Determining Transfer And Convertibility Assessments, May 18,
2009
• Understanding National Rating Scales, April 14, 2005
Related Research
• Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., May 19, 2014
• Sovereign Defaults And Rating Transition Data, 2013 Update, April 18,
2014
• South African Utility ESKOM 'BBB' Ratings Affirmed; SACP Revised Downward
To 'b-' On Weakening Metrics; Outlook Negative, Oct. 14, 2013
• Banking Industry Country Risk Assessment: South Africa, July 8, 2013
In accordance with our relevant policies and procedures, the Rating Committee
was composed of analysts that are qualified to vote in the committee, with
sufficient experience to convey the appropriate level of knowledge and
understanding of the methodology applicable (see 'Related Criteria And
Research'). At the onset of the committee, the chair confirmed that the
information provided to the Rating Committee by the primary analyst had been
distributed in a timely manner and was sufficient for Committee members to
make an informed decision.
After the primary analyst gave opening remarks and explained the
recommendation, the Committee discussed key rating factors and critical issues
in accordance with the relevant criteria. Qualitative and quantitative risk
factors were considered and discussed, looking at track-record and forecasts.
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1332333 | 301337771
Research Update: South Africa Long-Term FC Rating Lowered To 'BBB-'; LC Rating Lowered To 'BBB+' On
Ongoing Weak Growth; Outlook Stable
The chair ensured every voting member was given the opportunity to articulate
his/her opinion. The chair or designee reviewed the draft report to ensure
consistency with the Committee decision. The views and the decision of the
rating committee are summarized in the above rationale and outlook.
Ratings List
Downgraded; CreditWatch/Outlook Action
To From
South Africa (Republic of)
Sovereign Credit Rating
Foreign Currency BBB-/Stable/A-3 BBB/Negative/A-2
Transfer & Convertibility Assessment BBB+ A-
Senior Unsecured BBB+ A-
Senior Unsecured BBB- BBB
Downgraded; CreditWatch/Outlook Action; Ratings Affirmed
To From
South Africa (Republic of)
Sovereign Credit Rating
Local Currency BBB+/Stable/A-2 A-/Negative/A-2
South Africa National Scale zaAAA/--/zaA-1
Development Bank of Southern Africa Ltd.
Senior Unsecured* BBB+ A-
*Guaranteed by the Republic of South Africa.
Complete ratings information is available to subscribers of RatingsDirect at
www.globalcreditportal.com and at spcapitaliq.com. All ratings affected by
this rating action can be found on Standard & Poor's public Web site at
www.standardandpoors.com. Use the Ratings search box located in the left
column. Alternatively, call one of the following Standard & Poor's numbers:
Client Support Europe (44) 20-7176-7176; London Press Office (44)
20-7176-3605; Paris (33) 1-4420-6708; Frankfurt (49) 69-33-999-225; Stockholm
(46) 8-440-5914; or Moscow 7 (495) 783-4009.
WWW.STANDARDANDPOORS.COM/RATINGSDIRECT JUNE 13, 2014 6
1332333 | 301337771
Research Update: South Africa Long-Term FC Rating Lowered To 'BBB-'; LC Rating Lowered To 'BBB+' On
Ongoing Weak Growth; Outlook Stable
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