Fitch Ratings downgraded Saudi Aramco’s long-term issuer default rating (IDR) to A from A+ following the September 14 drone and missile attack on two key oil facilities that temporarily slashed its output by half. Fitch last month downgraded Saudi Arabia’s rating also to A due to the “vulnerability of Saudi Arabia’s economic infrastructure and continued deterioration in Saudi Arabia’s fiscal and external balance sheets,” it said at the time. The downgrade followed the attack on the company’s Abqaiq plant, the world’s largest oil processing facility, and Khurais, the country’s second largest oil field.
“We have downgraded Saudi Aramco’s IDR to ‘A’ given the rating is capped by that of the sovereign to reflect interdependency between the two and the influence the state exerts on the company through strategic direction, dividends and taxation,” Fitch said in a statement on Monday, adding that it has maintained a stable outlook for the company. Aramco didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment. Saudi Arabia is currently preparing Aramco for a local and international listing of up to a 5% stake, a sale that is expected to take place between 2020 and 2021.
Aramco, the world’s most profitable company and the biggest oil producer, issued its first debut international bond of $12 billion in April, which was heavily oversubscribed with orders exceeding $100 billion. “The (Aramco) downgrade also took into account rising geopolitical tensions in the region, but also the country’s continued fiscal deficit, among other factors,” Fitch said.