BP downgraded to AA from AA+ by Fitch

The first of many to come? The outlook would suggest so, after Fitch cut BP’s credit rating in response to its Deepwater spill dilemmas on Thursday — watch negative.

As Fitch’s release suggests, it’s a further headache for BP:

Fitch Ratings-London-03 June 2010: Fitch Ratings has today downgraded BP plc’s (BP) Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) and senior unsecured rating to ‘AA’ from ‘AA+’, respectively, and placed the ratings on Rating Watch Negative (RWN). At the same time, Fitch has affirmed BP’s Short-term IDR at ‘F1+’. The ratings of BP Capital Markets plc’s senior unsecured issues, which are fully and unconditionally guaranteed by BP, have been downgraded to ‘AA’ from ‘AA+’ and placed on RWN. BP Capital Markets is BP’s wholly-owned indirect subsidiary.

The downgrade of BP’s ratings reflects Fitch’s opinion that risks to both BP’s business and financial profile continue to increase following the Deepwater Horizon accident in the US Gulf of Mexico. The company has so far repeatedly failed to stop the resultant oil leak and has instead reverted to containment methods that are yet to be fully implemented and are subject to potential weather related disruption. Fitch notes that the drilling of relief wells also poses risks and additional time may be required for them to be fully effective. An additional factor supporting the downgrade is the 1 June 2010 announcement by US Attorney General, Eric Holder, that both a criminal and civil investigation has opened with respect to the oil spill that could have potential negative implications for BP’s financial profile. (more…)

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