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Standard & Poor's Ratings Services in its recent report titled "South and Southeast Asian Corporate Report Card" has said that there has been increased interest among South and Southeast Asian corporations in tapping the debt capital markets, both to refinance and to fund business expansion and to take advantage of the low interest rate environment.

In the seven months since the previous report, the overall credit quality of rated corporates has also improved. Upgrades have outnumbered downgrades by twelve to seven and the number of rated corporates with a negative outlook or under CreditWatch Negative has decreased significantly, to four from thirteen.

"This improvement was largely attributed to three factors: more favorable operating environments and business profiles, the conscious effort of some corporates to deleverage or adopt more conservative capital structures, and higher sovereign ratings on Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia."

Report cautioned that possible instability related to the coming presidential elections in Indonesia and Philippines, and potential adverse impact of any recurrence of SARS or widespread avian flu could provide some uncertainty to the regional economic environment.

The distribution of rated companies in the South and Southeast Asian region continues to correlate with ratings on regional sovereigns; the sovereign ratings on Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand are at or above the 'BBB' category, whereas India, the Philippines, and Indonesia are rated below investment grade.

Companies rated investment grade continue to make up slightly more than one-third of all rated corporates. Ratings in the 'B' category have increased significantly since many of the new ratings were assigned to corporations in non-investment-grade countries and those emerging from debt restructuring or operating in cyclical industries.

In addition to providing an overview of the key industries--power utilities, telecommunications, and oil and gas--the report offers a brief snapshot on the ratings and outlooks of rated corporates in South and Southeast Asia, and regional corporate rating actions taken since June 2003.

.... Click for ratings for India by Moody, S&P, Fitch

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