Fitch cuts ratings on Wind Hellas, outlook negative

Egyptian billionaire Naguib Sawiris is shown here in a file photo from a previous visit to Athens. Sawiris, chairman of Weather Investments, which controls Wind Hellas, saw ratings agency Fitch lower its rating on the Greek cellphone company to CCC from B-, reflecting concerns about the company’s over-leveraged capital structure and continued tight liquidity position. ‘The reduction in mobile termination rates and continuing pressure on the prepaid segment, due to Greek economic conditions, are expected to place downward pressure on operating margins in 2009,’ Fitch said. The agency also pointed out the lack of any ‘explicit commitment for cash equity support from the parent company, but believes Weather Investments sees Wind Hellas as a strategic asset and remains committed to Greek operations in the long term.’ Fitch also assigned a negative outlook to Wind Hellas’s long-term issuer default rating.