Research Update: Swiss Republic and Canton of Geneva Upgraded To 'A+' On Debt Reduction; Outlook Stable

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1 December 11, 2008 Research Update: Swiss Republic and Canton of Geneva Upgraded To 'A+' On Debt Reduction; Outlook Stable Primary Credit Analyst: Bertrand de Dianous, Paris (33) Secondary Credit Analyst: Valerie Montmaur, Paris (33) Table Of Contents Rationale Outlook Ratings List 1 Standard & Poor's. All rights reserved. No reprint or dissemination without S&P's permission. See Terms of Use/Disclaimer on the last page

2 Research Update: Swiss Republic and Canton of Geneva Upgraded To 'A+' On Debt Reduction; Outlook Stable Rationale On Dec. 11, 2008, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services raised to 'A+' from 'A' its long-term issuer credit rating on the Republic and Canton of Geneva, in Switzerland. The outlook is stable. The rating reflects Geneva's recent outstanding budgetary performance, largely following higher-than-expected tax revenues and tight cost control, as well as the canton's substantial debt reduction achieved over the past two years. Also supporting the rating is Geneva's wealthy economy, strong commitment to contain expenditure growth, and gradually depleting financing requirements relating to the canton's guarantee of Banque Cantonale de Genève's (A/Stable/A-1) past nonperforming loans. An ad hoc defeasance structure, the "Fondation," manages these assets. These positive factors are partially offset by the relatively high degree of sensitivity of the canton's tax revenues to economic cycles and its high unfunded pension liabilities in the context of the current global economic slowdown and turmoil in the capital markets. Geneva's financial performance has significantly improved over the past two years. In 2008, the canton is set to maintain a high operating surplus (before amortization and provisions) despite the negative impact of Switzerland's federal equalization reform. We estimate Geneva's 2008 operating margin (net of tax proceeds relating to past years) at 8% of operating revenues, flat versus 2007 (compared with 3.4% in 2006). Geneva's balance after capital expenditures has turned positive since 2006, primarily on the back of better operating results and decreasing financing requirements from the Fondation. Excluding one-off revenues, Geneva's surplus after capital expenditures reached a high 5.8% of total revenues in 2007 and is poised to be slightly lower in The canton's high surpluses, together with the proceeds on asset sales to public subsidiaries and the good liquidity position enhanced by Geneva's cash pooling system, have allowed the canton to shrink its ratio of direct debt to operating revenues. We expect this ratio at 144% at year-end 2008, down from from 195% in Tax revenues, the main revenue growth engine for the canton, are sensitive to economic cycles, however, especially corporate tax, which represented 17% of operating revenues in 2007 and show high concentration on just a few large companies. Consequently, we expect tax revenues to shrink somewhat in However, the canton's tax revenue base stands to feel the dent from the current economic downturn from 2010 onward, in our view. We expect the canton's operating margin to contract in the near future. But management's strong commitment to continue reining in costs, albeit less Standard & Poor s RatingsDirect December 11,

3 Research Update: Swiss Republic and Canton of Geneva Upgraded To 'A+' On Debt Reduction; Outlook Stable stringently than in the past, will likely partly offset falling revenues and prevent the canton from posting an operating deficit (before amortization and provisions) in the next two years, as was the case in In addition, significant cash inflows from the tax years, combined with tight cost control, should enable Geneva to stabilize its debt in absolute terms in Compared with operating revenues, it would represent about 150%, or its 2001 level. The rating on Geneva is further constrained by its pension obligations. These are managed by four pension funds, based on defined benefits, and financed by a mix of capitalization and pay as you go. Coverage through reserves of future pension payments for Geneva's largest pension fund (called CIA) stabilized at 72.2% in In 2008, this ratio is likely to decrease significantly owing to negative market effects. Geneva's net financial liabilities (including unfunded pension liabilities) represented 257% of total revenues in 2007, which is high by international standards. Liquidity The canton benefits from extensive short-term facilities, comprising Swiss franc (CHF) 1.25 billion of committed bank lines (with seven counterparties) and CHF1.28 billion of uncommitted lines. Together they represent 37% of estimated 2008 operating expenditures and 1.7x the canton's 2008 estimated long-term debt service. Cash inflows and outflows are well spread throughout the year. With the gradual implementation of the cash pooling system, however, Geneva's share of short-term debt stands to decline to about 5% (versus 6% at year-end 2007 and compared with 10% on average over the past few years). Outlook The stable outlook incorporates our expectations for Geneva's operating margin (before amortization and provisions), although weakening, to remain positive and consequently compatible with the rating. We also anticipate that Geneva will be able to stabilize its debt-to-revenue ratio in the next two years. Strong political commitment to continue tight control of expenditures should help the canton meet these goals, despite less dynamic revenues and heightened pressure on some costs, mostly deriving from the canton's willingness to support the local economy and residents under sluggish economic conditions. If Geneva's net financial liabilities (including unfunded pension liabilities) increase significantly, the rating could come under pressure. Conversely, if the canton continues to improve its budgetary performance and significantly trims its debt burden and unfunded liabilities, we could envisage an upgrade, although this is unlikely at this stage. Ratings List Upgraded Geneva (Republic and Canton of) To From 3

4 Research Update: Swiss Republic and Canton of Geneva Upgraded To 'A+' On Debt Reduction; Outlook Stable Issuer Credit Rating A+/Stable/-- A/Stable/-- Senior Unsecured (2 issues) A+ A Additional Contact: International Public Finance Ratings Ratings information is available to subscribers of RatingsDirect, the real-time Web-based source for Standard & Poor's credit ratings, research, and risk analysis, at It can also be found on Standard & Poor's public Web site at select your preferred country or region, then Ratings in the left navigation bar, followed by Credit Ratings Search. Alternatively, call one of the following Standard & Poor's numbers: Client Support Europe (44) ; London Press Office (44) ; Paris (33) ; Frankfurt (49) ; Stockholm (46) ; or Moscow (7) Standard & Poor s RatingsDirect December 11,

5 Copyright 2008 Standard & Poor's, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. (S&P). S&P and/or its third party licensors have exclusive proprietary rights in the data or information provided herein. This data/information may only be used internally for business purposes and shall not be used for any unlawful or unauthorized purposes. Dissemination, distribution or reproduction of this data/information in any form is strictly prohibited except with the prior written permission of S&P. Because of the possibility of human or mechanical error by S&P, its affiliates or its third party licensors, S&P, its affiliates and its third party licensors do not guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or availability of any information and is not responsible for any errors or omissions or for the results obtained from the use of such information. S&P GIVES NO EXPRESS OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, ANY WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR USE. In no event shall S&P, its affiliates and its third party licensors be liable for any direct, indirect, special or consequential damages in connection with subscriber's or others use of the data/information contained herein. Access to the data or information contained herein is subject to termination in the event any agreement with a thirdparty of information or software is terminated. Analytic services provided by Standard & Poor's Ratings Services (Ratings Services) are the result of separate activities designed to preserve the independence and objectivity of ratings opinions. The credit ratings and observations contained herein are solely statements of opinion and not statements of fact or recommendations to purchase, hold, or sell any securities or make any other investment decisions. Accordingly, any user of the information contained herein should not rely on any credit rating or other opinion contained herein in making any investment decision. Ratings are based on information received by Ratings Services. Other divisions of Standard & Poor's may have information that is not available to Ratings Services. Standard & Poor's has established policies and procedures to maintain the confidentiality of non-public information received during the ratings process. Ratings Services receives compensation for its ratings. Such compensation is normally paid either by the issuers of such securities or third parties participating in marketing the securities. While Standard & Poor's reserves the right to disseminate the rating, it receives no payment for doing so, except for subscriptions to its publications. Additional information about our ratings fees is available at Any Passwords/user IDs issued by S&P to users are single user-dedicated and may ONLY be used by the individual to whom they have been assigned. No sharing of passwords/user IDs and no simultaneous access via the same password/user ID is permitted. To reprint, translate, or use the data or information other than as provided herein, contact Client Services, 55 Water Street, New York, NY 10041; (1) or by to: Copyright Standard & Poor's, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies. All Rights Reserved

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