The credit rating agency Standard and Poor’s has decided not to change Iceland’s credit rating. “In our view, the referendum outcome does not constitute an outright repudiation of Iceland’s international obligations,” S&P said in a statement.
The referendum’s outcome “merely reflects overwhelming popular discontent with the financial conditions of a bilateral loan offered by the British and the Dutch to finance their claim,” it added. “Standard and Poor’s does not believe that the Icelandic government will resign over the referendum or that the unresolved Icesave problem will thwart nascent EU membership talks, which at this stage, are not a rating factor,” it said.
S and P currently rates the Icelandic government’s foreign currency debt BBB-/A-3, or the lowest level of investment grade. Any downgrade would put the bonds in so-called junk territory, which means that they would be considered too risky for many big institutional investors to own them.
The agency has had Iceland’s credit rating on review for a downgrade since January and expects to decide on whether to change the rating by the end of April, it said. S&P said Iceland risked a downgrade into junk status if negotiations with Britain and the Netherlands stalled or if the crisis-struck economy weakened.
“However, progress toward a resolution on Icesave or toward securing external funding for Iceland’s adjustment program would lead us to stabilize the ratings at their current levels,” it said.