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Le Pen's French debt plan would trigger default, S&P tells Economist

Marine Le Pen, French National Front (FN) political party leader and candidate for French 2017 presidential election, attends the 2-day FN political rally to launch the presidential campaign in Lyon, France, February 4, 2017. REUTERS/Emmanuel Foudrot

PARIS (Reuters) - France would default on its sovereign debt if it unilaterally converted its euro-denominated obligations into new francs following a National Front election victory, a senior executive at ratings agency Standard & Poor’s told The Economist.

“There is no ambiguity here,” Moritz Kraemer, S&P’s head of sovereign ratings, said in a letter published in the weekly magazine’s latest edition.

“If an issuer does not adhere to the contractual obligations to its creditors, including payment in the currency stipulated, (we) would declare a default,” Kraemer wrote.

“Our current AA rating on France suggests, however, that such a turn of events is unlikely.”

FN leader Marine Le Pen, predicted by most polls to get through to the presidential election’s second round in May, has pledged to take France out of the euro and convert its debt into a new currency. She launched her campaign at a rally on Saturday.

Rival ratings agency Moody’s has concluded that such a move “might technically count as a default”, The Economist had reported in a previous edition in mid-January.

Reporting by Laurence Frost; Editing by Mark Trevelyan