01:26 GMT +317 February 2019
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    Fitch upgrades Norilsk Nickel to BBB-

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    MOSCOW, December 21 (RIA Novosti) - International rating agency Fitch assigned Russian metals giant Norilsk Nickel a senior unsecured BBB- rating with a stable outlook Wednesday, the agency said in a news release.

    Norilsk Nickel's existing $500 million senior notes with five-year maturity were also assigned a senior unsecured BBB- rating. The agency also assigned the metals company a short-term F3 rating.

    "The stable outlook reflects Fitch's expectation that Norilsk Nickel will maintain a satisfactory financial and business profile, despite the cyclical nature of the industry," the statement said. "The company's scale, low-cost structure, diversity of sales and production capacity, coupled with its healthy financial profile, will help support its ratings."

    Fitch said the ratings reflected Norilsk Nickel's leading market position in primary nickel production and vertically integrated business model.

    "The company has a track record in maintaining strong financial metrics including strong margins and a net cash position compared to international peers, underpinned by favorable global market conditions as a result of growing commodity demand from China," the news release said.

    Fitch said, however, that there was "still a quite concentrated ownership structure and asset base in Russia, which creates exposure to potential regulatory and political risks, but adverse changes to these latter factors are regarded as event risks to the ratings."

    Norilsk Nickel is one of the world's largest precious and non-ferrous metal producers, accounting for more than 20% of the world's nickel output and more than 10% of cobalt and 3% of copper. The company produces 96% of Russia's nickel, 55% of its copper and 95% of its cobalt.