TEXT-Fitch may cut Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold ratings

Wed Dec 5, 2012 5:35pm EST

Dec 5 - Fitch Ratings has placed the ratings of Freeport-McMoRan Copper &
Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX) and its subsidiary Freeport-McMoRan Corporation
(FMC) formerly known as Phelps Dodge Corporation on Rating Watch Negative
following its announcement that it will acquire Plains Exploration & Production
Company (NYSE: PXP) and McMoRan Exploration Co. (NYSE: MMR). A
full list of ratings follows this release.

The transaction is expected to give rise to $10 billion in additional borrowing
and $6.9 billion in assumed debt for a total consolidated debt of $20 billion.
Fitch expects pro forma debt to EBITDA to be at least 2 times based on Fitch's
commodity price assumptions.

Fitch expects to resolve the watch when more details of the transaction are
finalized. Fitch believes the likely outcome, based on the structure of the
transaction as announced and current commodity price assumptions, would be a one
notch downgrade.

Fitch has placed the following ratings on Watch Negative:

FCX
--Issuer Default Rating 'BBB';
--$1.5 billion unsecured bank revolver 'BBB';
--$500 million 1.40% senior notes due Feb. 13, 2015 'BBB';
--$500 million 2.15% senior notes due March 1, 2017 'BBB';
--$2 billion 3.55% senior notes due March 1, 2022 'BBB'.

FMC
--7.125% senior unsecured debentures due 2027 'BBB';
--9.50% senior unsecured notes due 2031 'BBB';
--6.125% senior unsecured notes due 2034 'BBB'.

Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'. The ratings above
were solicited by, or on behalf of, the issuer, and therefore, Fitch has been
compensated for the provision of the ratings.

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:
--'Corporate Rating Methodology' (Aug. 8, 2012).

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:
Corporate Rating Methodology
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