TEXT - S&P revises Uranium One outlook to developing

Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:34pm EST

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Overview
     -- Toronto-based uranium miner Uranium One Inc. has agreed to be acquired 
by its majority shareholder, JSC Atomredmetzoloto, for C$1.3 billion.
     -- As a result, we are revising our outlook on Uranium One to developing 
from stable and affirming our 'BB-' long-term corporate credit rating on the 
company.
     -- The elimination of Uranium One's minority shareholders and associated 
Toronto Stock Exchange listing could portend some changes to the company's 
strategic direction and financial policies.
     -- The developing outlook reflects our view that we could raise or lower 
the rating on Uranium One depending on the potential changes to the company's 
strategic direction and financial policies.

Rating Action
On Jan. 16, 2013, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services revised its outlook on 
Uranium One Inc. to developing from stable. At the same time, Standard & 
Poor's affirmed its 'BB-' long-term corporate credit rating on the company. 

We base the outlook revision on Uranium One's agreement to be acquired by its 
majority shareholder, JSC Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ), for C$1.3 billion

The developing outlook is partially based on the potential for an improvement 
in the company's credit quality related to possible enhancements, in our view, 
of parental or government-related support due to the prospect of greater 
integration between Uranium One and ARMZ. Conversely, the outlook also 
reflects several downside risks associated with the proposed deal including 
potential changes to the company's asset profile, financial policies and 
financial flexibility, and uncertain regulatory responses in several 
jurisdictions.

A developing outlook means that we could raise or lower the rating over a 
period of about one year.

Rationale
The rating on Uranium One reflects our view of the company's narrow operating 
and geographic diversification, exposure to foundering uranium spot prices, 
relatively short collective mine life, limited track record, and reliance on 
residual cash flows from its joint venture mine operations. This is somewhat 
offset, in our opinion, by Uranium One's attractive cost profile, increasing 
production base, relatively low debt leverage, and a resilient long-term 
demand outlook for uranium from a growing worldwide nuclear reactor fleet.

Standard & Poor's assesses Uranium One's stand-alone credit profile (SACP) at 
'b+'. 

Majority shareholder ARMZ is a wholly owned subsidiary of Atomic Energy Power 
Corp. (BBB/Stable/A-2), which in turn is a wholly owned subsidiary of State 
Atomic Energy Corp. Rosatom (not rated), a state-owned entity of the Russian 
Federation (foreign currency: BBB/Stable/A-2).

We view the proposed acquisition as providing an opportunity to strengthen the 
alignment of interests between Uranium One and majority shareholder ARMZ, 
which could lead to stronger incentives for the majority holders to support 
Uranium One's credit quality. We believe that the demonstration of stronger 
alignment could manifest by ARMZ fully capturing Uranium One's output into the 
group's operating profile, which would not only highlight the strategic 
importance of Uranium One to ARMZ but also underscore the consequently 
improved relative standing of ARMZ in the global nuclear industry. Moreover, 
Uranium One could have broader access to the financial capacity of its 
state-backed parents, particularly at a time when Uranium One's capital 
requirements could rise substantially to fund the development of the Mkuju 
River project in Tanzania. 

In our opinion, the company's stand-alone financial risk profile could 
deteriorate if Uranium One adopts a more aggressive financial policy leading 
to higher debt levels in its capital structure or undertakes corporate 
initiatives where the prospects for cash flow generation are unclear. 
Moreover, the company's financial flexibility could tighten given funding 
requirements that might include the redemption of its C$260 million 
convertible debenture--via a change-of-control provision--in addition to its 
existing growth capital spending plans (including Mantra Resources Ltd. and 
its Mkuju River project). 

We view Uranium One's business risk profile as weak, reflecting its high mine 
and geographic concentration as well as its relatively short aggregate proven 
and probable reserve mine life based on National Instrument 43-101, the 
Canadian mineral resource classification system. The company's mine 
concentration is underpinned by having nearly 45% of total production sourced 
from two mines: South Inkai and Karatau. While near-term production is limited 
by subsoil use agreements signed with Kazakhstan's Ministry of Industry and 
New Technologies, we believe that Uranium One's production will be enhanced by 
increased output from existing mines, as well as the continued production 
ramp-up at its development projects: Kharasan and Akbastau in Kazakhstan; 
Willow Creek in the U.S.; and Honeymoon in Australia. 

Liquidity
We view Uranium One's liquidity as adequate, based on the following factors:
     -- We expect that sources of liquidity in the next 12-18 months will 
exceed uses by 1.2x or more.
     -- Sources of cash would be greater than uses even if EBITDA were to 
decline by 15%.
     -- The company had about US$442.3 million in cash on hand as of Sept. 30, 
2012. We estimate that funds from operations generation will likely be able to 
cover nearly all of the company's share of capital expenditures through 2013.
     -- Debt maturities are light and are primarily related to asset-level 
debt facilities. This does not factor in the potential early redemption of its 
C$260 million unsecured convertible debentures that contain a 
change-of-control provision that is exercised within 30 days of the company's 
acquisition by ARMZ.
     -- Uranium One does not, nor do we expect it to, pay any common stock 
dividends over our liquidity forecast horizon.

Not included within the liquidity calculation is the proposed A$1.0 billion 
acquisition of Mantra Resources Ltd. that is 86.1% owned by ARMZ. Uranium One 
has a call option to acquire Mantra Resources Ltd., which is set to expire on 
June 7, 2013.

Outlook
The developing outlook reflects our view that we could raise or lower the 
rating or SACP on Uranium One depending on the potential changes to the 
company's strategic direction and financial policies. That said, we expect 
that Uranium One's low-cost production profile and long-term sale contracts 
should help support the company's operating performance through this year with 
an adjusted debt-to-EBITDA leverage ratio near 3x, on a proportionately 
consolidated basis, with EBITDA generation of more than US$250 million.

We could raise the rating if the proposed acquisition leads us to improve our 
view of potential support from the company's parent or via its status as a 
government-related entity under our criteria.

Alternatively, we could lower the rating if we believe that the company's 
asset quality could deteriorate or debt levels were to increase significantly 
causing its adjusted debt-to-EBITDA leverage ratio to surpass 4.5x, a key 
threshold for downward ratings pressure.

Related Criteria And Research
     -- Methodology: Business Risk/Financial Risk Matrix Expanded, Sept. 18, 
2012
     -- Methodology and Assumptions: Liquidity Descriptors For Global 
Corporate Issuers, Sept. 28, 2011
     -- Rating Government-Related Entities: Methodology And Assumptions, Dec. 
9, 2010
     -- Key Credit Factors: Methodology And Assumptions On Risks In The Mining 
Industry, June 23, 2009
     -- 2008 Corporate Criteria: Analytical Methodology, April 15, 2008
     -- 2008 Corporate Criteria: Ratios And Adjustments, April 15, 2008
     -- Corporate Criteria--Parent/Subsidiary Links; General Principles; 
Subsidiaries/Joint Ventures/Nonrecourse Projects; Finance Subsidiaries; Rating 
Link to Parent, Oct. 28, 2004

Ratings List
Outlook Revised To Developing
                                To                 From
Uranium One Inc.
 Corporate credit rating        BB-/Developing/--  BB-/Stable/--
FILED UNDER:
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Comments (1)
CFFFFFF wrote:
this is a horrible offer by these russians and unethical for the board to approve. This was a $6 stock 2 years ago and they’re offering $2.86 now, regulators should step in and investigate, at the least bloack the deal.

I’ll be voting against this deal and encourage other minoity shareholders to hold out for a lot more, this is a $4 stock in 12 months when japan starts activating reactors and the heu source dries up.

Jan 17, 2013 2:58pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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