Capital market-relevant press releases, 2003-02-21, 01:00 AM
Standard & Poor`s downgrades ThyssenKrupp two notches to BB+: Loss of investment grade status
Standard & Poor`s has downgraded ThyssenKrupp`s previous rating two notches to BB+ and thus to non-investment grade status. S&P has also lowered the issue rating for the outstanding ThyssenKrupp bonds to "BB". ThyssenKrupp sharply criticizes this decision. The Group does not share S&P`s assessment that its financial situation has deteriorated since its first rating was issued in summer 2001. The opposite is the case. For example, net financial payables have been substantially reduced by 4 billion euros - from 8.7 billion euros at March 31, 2001 to 4.7 billion euros at September 30, 2002. The Group`s gearing target of approximately 60% was achieved at September 30, 2002, a year earlier than planned. A further improvement in the gearing ratio through a further reduction in net financial payables is targeted. Against this background, S&P`s decision is incomprehensible.
The facts concerning ThyssenKrupp have not changed; the only thing that has changed is S&P`s view of the way it assesses pension obligations.
Since the beginning of the year, ThyssenKrupp`s pension obligations in Germany have been based exclusively on defined-contribution schemes. S&P`s downgrade will not lead ThyssenKrupp to pursue models which are disadvantageous - such as coverage by funds, which would be economically wrong in Germany - and would result in the destruction of value for the Company, its stockholders, lenders and ultimately also its employees and pensioners.
The Group will continue to pursue its strategy and implement measures to further enhance the value of ThyssenKrupp. The aim continues to be to focus the Group within its three main business areas of Steel, Capital Goods and Services and to develop the segments through active portfolio management. In addition, the Group aims to achieve continuous productivity improvements of at least 2 to 3% per year.
Please address questions to Dr. Jürgen Claassen (Communications and Central Bureau, Tel. +49 211 824-36001) and Gundolf Moritz (Investor Relations, Tel. +49 211 824-36464).