Riyadh’s rating will not be affected: Moody’s

LONDON — Ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service said on Monday that the death of Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd would have no impact on the sovereign rating of the world’s largest oil exporting nation.

By (Reuters)

Published: Tue 2 Aug 2005, 10:29 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 4:11 PM

Tristan Cooper, Vice President of the Sovereign Risk group at Moody’s in London, said the death of the 86-year old king, frail since a stroke a decade ago, had been factored into the kingdom’s Baa2 rating.

“I don’t see any rating implication from the death of King Fahd. It had been expected for a long time and had been built into our rating,” said Cooper.

King Fahd died on Monday and was succeeded by his brother Crown Prince Abdullah. Analysts have said they expect no major foreign or oil policy shifts in the country.

King Abdullah has run day-to-day affairs since 1995 and is widely expected to continue the close relationship with Washington that has enraged some radical Islamists and led to several violent attacks in the country in recent years.

Oil prices rose on the news though most analysts believe the kingdom will stick to its oil output policy, aimed at keeping global markets well supplied. It is currently pumping 9.5 million barrels per day (bpd) though oil prices have remained stubbornly around the $60 per barrel mark.

U.S. oil futures were trading 57 cents higher at $61.14 by 1000 GMT. The Saudi stock market which slid over five percent on the news, pared its losses after a brief trade suspension and was just one percent lower.

“Saudi Arabia’s main strength is that it is the world’s largest oil exporter,” Cooper said, adding: “I can’t see any change in Saudi external policy because of the death.”

Other ratings agencies Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings have ’A’ ratings on Saudi Arabia.

But Fahd’s death and the accession of his younger brother Abdullah, born in 1924, to the throne brings to the fore the issue of future succession, Cooper cautioned.

The new heir to the throne is Prince Sultan, who is also about 80 years old.

Cooper said this was an issue to watch but the current rating had already taken it into account.

“It does highlight the lack of succession. The new king is 80 and so is the crown prince and others in line to the throne are also elderly,” Cooper said. “There is yet not a clear line of succession to the younger generation.”

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