Moody's maintains Telstra rating

Moody's maintains Telstra rating

Moody's has maintained Telstra's (ASX:TLS) credit rating in the wake of Tuesday's shareholder endorsement of the $11 billion NBN deal.

The company said Telstra's A2 rating would remain on review for a possible downgrade, but should the ACCC approve the deal without material changes, the rating would likely be confirmed with a stable outlook.

An overwhelming 99% of Telstra shareholders voted to approve Telstra's agreement to progressively move its fixed-line customers to the NBN.

Moody's vice president Ian Lewis acknowledged that under the agreement "Telstra will lose the benefits of its previous vertical integration under the proposed transaction as the NBN is rolled out, and this will impact negatively on its operating profile.”

But he said that “the transition to full structural separation and loss of monopoly-like returns should be gradual, and sufficiently compensated to neutralise near- and medium-term impacts on the company's ratings.”

But this would change if Telstra's recurring cashflow or revenue declines significantly, and leverage is not adjusted accordingly.

“Such a situation could also arise if Telstra is unable to adequately grow its normal operating income over time and as such payments diminish, once the NBN reaches completion,” Lewis said.

The ACCC still needs to approve Telstra's structural separation undertakings (SSU) and draft migration plans, but had objected to some of the terms of the SSU in its original form.

TLS shares grew 1.6% on Wednesday to $3.180, after growing 0.64% the day before.

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