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Standard & Poor’s raises Cyprus rating as risks recede

Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s has provided a welcome boost to the island’s economy by raising its credit rating for Cyprus to B-/B from CCC plus/C arguing that the immediate risks to Cyprus’ austerity program had receded.

STANDARD & Poor’s raised its long-term sovereign debt rating on Cyprus to B- from CCC+ on Friday, saying immediate risks to debt repayments on the bailed-out Mediterranean nation appeared to have receded.

“The stable outlook reflects our view of the implementation risks that remain as the end of the three-year European Commission, International Monetary Fund, and European Central Bank program approaches, balanced against the upside potential we see coming from Cyprus’ economy,” S&P said in a statement.

It is the first ratings upgrade in three years for Cyprus, which was shut out of international financial markets for high implied yields on its traded debt in May 2011 and came to the brink of financial collapse earlier this year. Fitch rates Cyprus B-, and Moody’s Investors’ Service at Caa3.

The island, one of the smallest countries in the euro zone, signed up to a 10 billion euro bailout program with the IMF and EU in March.

Program money was not allocated to commercial banks, and the accord was conditional on Cyprus shutting down a major bank and recapitalizing a second lender with its clients’ deposits.

Lenders have since reviewed Cyprus’ progress twice, giving it positive reviews.

Standard and Poor’s said the biggest challenge in Cyprus meeting lenders’ conditions was a privatization program, expected to raise 1.4 billion euros by 2018.

An upside risk to the economy was anticipated revenue from offshore gas finds, but commercial incentives could be thwarted by the island’s political division between Greek and Turkish Cypriots, Standard and Poor’s said.

Cypriot president Nicos Anastasiades, a conservative who took power just before the bailout was concluded in March, said his government would be “consistent and disciplined” in managing the island’s adjustment.

“This is the result of painful sacrifices by our people, but also the decisive policies this government has followed the past eight months,” he said in a statement.

– Reuters

Readers' comments

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  • Mike says:

    In my humble opinion Cyprus still has the opportunity and ability to recover full status in the financial markets as it has all the elements needed to ensure progressive and sustained prosperity. Unfortunately harnessing those elements is proving to be elusive due in part to the short term gain and greed from certain sectors of commerce and government which is tarnishing Cyprus’ otherwise good name and inhibiting prosperity. It will come when the political will is found, when however is a long question.

  • Steve.R says:

    And this will now pave the way for Cyprus to go back in and borrow some more money.

  • Adrian says:

    The President said “this is the result of painful sacrifices by our people”. From where I am standing it has been the “foreigners” who have been paying for the NPL of the Cypriot developers who are getting away free, taxes all paid and loans settled.

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