By Alex MacDonald
LONDON--Steel giant ArcelorMittal (MT) remains committed to maintaining its investment grade credit rating--despite the relatively low cost incurred from a one notch downgrade--because it views the credit rating as important in its role as a consolidator of the industry, the company's chief financial officer said Wednesday.
In order to "continue consolidating...the appropriate rating for our investment size is investment grade," Aditya Mittal told analysts in a conference call.
ArcelorMittal has been seeking to reduce its debt in order to maintain its investment grade credit rating after Standard and Poor's said the company must reduce its adjusted debt, a metric that includes liabilities that aren't often apparent on the balance sheet, by about $11 billion to $30 billion in order to maintain its BBB-/A-3 long- and short-term corporate credit rating.
So far the company has reduced its adjusted debt by $4 billion, Mittal said.
He noted that the company remains committed to its investment grade even though the consequence of a one notch credit downgrade is equivalent to an additional $100 million in interest expenses.
The company has reduced its adjusted debt through a combination of non-core asset sales and changes to pension plans as evidenced in the case of a change in the employee benefit plans for its Dofasco operations in Canada.
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