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    Fitch’s Downgrade of Russian Rating to BBB- to Have Little Impact:RusRating

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    Last week, Fitch rating agency downgraded Russia's credit rating from BBB to BBB- citing the fall in oil prices and depreciating ruble as the country's economic growth rate is expected to fall to four percent.

    MOSCOW, January 12 (Sputnik) — The downgrade of Russia's credit rating from BBB to BBB- by Fitch Ratings is a negative event, but it is unlikely to have tangible immediate effects, the head of regional ratings at RusRatings agency told Sputnik on Monday.

    "It is a negative event — though widely expected and already priced-in — but unlikely to have tangible immediate impact," Anton Tabakh told Sputnik news agency.

    Last week, Fitch rating agency downgraded Russia's credit rating from BBB to BBB- citing the fall in oil prices and depreciating ruble as the country's economic growth rate is expected to fall to four percent.

    Standard & Poor's (S&P) also has a current BBB- credit rating for Russia. A downgrade, which the rating agency said was 50 percent possible, could possibly cause Russia to lose its sovereign debt status.

    "A downgrade into junk category – which S&P would probably be the first to do, would have impact," Tabakh said, explaining that "many funds are required by regulators to limit holdings of non-investment grade assets."

    He added that investors would most likely "prefer to play it safe."

    Chris Devonshire-Ellis, the founder of Dezan Shira & Associates reminded that "the downgrades affect Russia's ability to obtain loans and increase the rates of interest of them when on the international markets looking for funds."

    "However, on the other hand, most of those funds and financing are based in the West, as is much of the analysis provided by each of these ratings agencies. None of them have particular expertise in the Russian or CIS market. Some of Russia's major assets will be significantly globally under-valued by this assessment," Devonshire-Ellis told Sputnik.

    The situation will first of all mean that the so-called Big Three ratings agencies – namely S&P, Moody's and Fitch — are "inadequate when it comes to providing true global data," Devonshire-Ellis explained.

    "Secondly, that Russia will move to obtain financing and support from other countries, probably in the East, and may need to renegotiate existing terms with financial backers in the West. Thirdly, it points to yet another sign that Russian entrepreneurialism is ripe for exploitation," Chris Devonshire-Ellis said.

    He went on to underline that if ratings are low, the number of opportunities increases. This point was also underlined by RusRating's assessment that the "situation with defaults of corporate borrowers is not bad enough to attract so-called vulture investors," as Anton Tabakh said.

    "Short term, this will prove awkward. But if Russia can react to this and other recent news by weaning itself off Western financial support and backing and onto a model based upon Russian and CIS dynamics, then that has to be a good thing," Devonshire-Ellis said. "It is also somewhat amusing to note the downgrade occurred within a week of Russia announcing the new Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) that can be expected to become a boost to Russia as a whole."

    The founder of the Dezan Shira & Associates concluded that ratings agencies are not measuring potential or the value of assets, neither are they infallible, but they are an opinion.

    "When that opinion is largely driven and influenced by the West as opposed to the minutiae of the demographics of a country as large as Russia, my response would be to shrug off their opinions as of little consequence in medium term financial futures," Devonshire-Ellis said.

    On Saturday, deputy head of Russia's Federation Council Committee on Economic Policy Sergei Shatirov said that Fitch Ratings' downgrade is aimed at putting pressure on the country's economy. Thus it cannot be considered objective, as the Russian economy is quite balanced and has "very powerful" accumulated reserves, including forex ones, in the National Wealth Fund.

    Moody's rating for Russia is two notches above junk, also with a negative outlook.

    Russia's national currency has plummeted alongside oil prices in recent months, losing some 40 percent of its value against the dollar since summer 2014. In December, financial agency Standard & Poor's, which currently rates Russia as BBB-, announced that it could downgrade the country's rating over its weakening economy.

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