NEW YORK, USA -- Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Monday said it had lowered its foreign currency sovereign credit ratings on Grenada to 'SD', selective default, from 'B-/B'.
At the same time, S&P lowered its local currency sovereign credit ratings on Grenada to 'CCC+/C' from 'B-/B'. The outlook on the long-term local currency rating is negative.
"The downgrade to 'SD' follows the government's failure to pay the coupon due September 15, 2012, on its US$193 million bond due in 2025," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Richard Francis.
In its September 12, 2012, statement to bondholders, the government of Grenada stated its intention to use its best efforts to pay the coupon within a 30-day grace period. However, S&P considers an obligation in default unless payment is made within five business days of the due date, regardless of any grace period.
"Although the government restructured its foreign currency debt after Hurricane Ivan destroyed much of the island in 2004, the debt burden remained high and has continued to grow," said Francis. "Before this default, which we believe will depress the economy further, we had projected real GDP per capita growth at just over 1% in 2013 and net government debt at 80% of GDP at year-end 2012. Liquidity pressures are reflected in the government's recent wage arrears as well as the missed debt service payments to official bilateral creditors and the default on the foreign currency bond."
The government's difficulty in servicing its US dollar debt and paying public-sector wages may presage servicing risks to its Eastern Caribbean dollar-denominated bond, as well as its Eastern Caribbean dollar-denominated treasury bills. The local currency bond was also part of the 2005 debt restructuring. Accordingly, S&P has lowered the long-term local currency rating to 'CCC+' with a negative outlook and the short-term local currency rating to 'C'.
“Once the government cures its foreign currency debt default, we will assign forward-looking foreign currency ratings. We will comment on the likely foreign currency ratings as the government's liquidity situation and future debt payment plans become clear,” S&P said.
“We could raise our local currency rating on Grenada if the government's liquidity pressures ease within the coming months. Conversely, if the government's liquidity pressures intensify, the rating could come under additional pressures,” S&P concluded.