Moody's Reviewing Belgium for Possible Downgrade
Belgium's financial troubles appeared to mount Monday as Moody's Investors Service announced it was putting the country's three regions on review for a possible downgrade, along with three of their government-related issuers.
The news followed Friday's announcement that Moody's was putting the country's Aa1 ratings on review for possible downgrade, in part because the country was about to pay a significant sum to prop up the French-Belgian Dexia bank.
Over the weekend, Belgium agreed to buy the bank's Belgian subsidiary for $4 billion ($5.4 billion) as part of a restructuring of the lender amid a liquidity squeeze.
Moody's said late Monday it was placing the regions and the government-related issuers on review in part because of their possible exposure to losses stemming from the Dexia restructuring.
The country's three region's are the Dutch-speaking Flemish region, the French-speaking Walloon region, and the bilingual Brussels-capital region.
Beyond the crisis over Dexia bank, Belgium also worries investors because for more than a year its feuding regions have been unable to agree on a governing coalition able to make long-term financial decisions.
Belgium has been ruled in the meantime by a caretaker government. However, in the past few weeks, negotiators have appeared to be edging closer to forming a long-term governing coalition.
Moody's said the review for possible downgrade of the government issuers - Aquafin NV, Societe Publique de Gestion de l'Eau and Fiwapac - reflected their strong links with their sponsoring governments, namely, the regions of Flanders and Wallonia.
Moody's defines a government-related issuer as "an entity with full or partial government ownership or control, a special charter, or a public policy mandate from the national or local government."