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    BRAMA News and Community Press

    BRAMA, June 8, 2007, 9:00 am ET

    Press release

    Fitch Rates City of Kharkov 'AA-(ukr)'; Affirms 'B+'Ratings

    Fitch Ratings-London/Warsaw/Moscow- 8 June 2007: Fitch Ratings has today assigned the City of Kharkov a National Long-term rating of 'AA-(minus)(ukr)'. Its International Long-term foreign and local currency ratings are affirmed at 'B+' and Short-term foreign currency rating at 'B'. The Outlooks on the International and National Long-term ratings are Stable.

    The ratings reflect Kharkov's growing economy, which in turn boosts the city's budget revenue, low debt servicing cost and small total debt burden. However, they also take into account its operating expenditure rigidity resulting from the large proportion of tied social spending. The Stable Outlook reflects Fitch's expectations that the local economic growth will support revenue increase, allowing the city to absorb operating expenditure pressure.

    The development of the local economy supported steady budget revenue growth in the last two years. Average wages in the city have been growing 25% per annum since 2000, and are expected to increase 10% per year until 2010. Personal Income Tax (PIT) constitutes a significant share of the city's tax revenue. The reform of the utilities sector, together with capital investment, has allowed Kharkov to raise the profitability and efficiency of key public infrastructure companies. These companies pay their taxes into the city's budget and fully cover their operating costs. Since 2001 the city's capital expenditure has been growing, of which a large part is for capital renovation at publicly-owned utility companies.

    Kharkov's debt is low, consisting of domestic three-year bond of UAH100m issued to finance capital expenditure in 2005. The borrowing plans are moderate and not expected to exceed capital expenditure requirements. During 2005-2006 debt servicing expenses increased to a manageable 7% of operating balance while its debt-to-current balance ratio averaged one year.

    However, the city's budget is characterised by limited revenue and expenditure flexibility. It has limited tax-setting power and relies on the central government for decisions on transfer volumes. Local taxes make up only a small share of total revenue and cannot adequately compensate for adverse changes in tax legislation. The high proportion of social spending in the city's budget limits expenditure flexibility. Staff expenditure and current transfers account for 80% of operating expenditure. Although a significant proportion of social spending is financed by central government transfers, the city does not have any discretion over how these funds are spent.

    The City of Kharkov is in the north-east of Ukraine, on the border with the Russian Federation. The city accounts for 5.8% of national GDP, the fourth-largest among Ukrainian regions, and 3.06% of the total population.

    Contact: Andrei Piskunov, Moscow, Tel.: +7 495 9569901; Elzbieta Kaminska, Warsaw, Tel.: +48 22 338 62 84.

    Media contact:
    Alla Izmailova, Moscow, Tel.: + 7 495 956 9901/03, alla.izmailova@fitchratings.com

    Fitch's rating definitions and the terms of use of such ratings are available on the agency's public site, www.fitchratings.com. Published ratings, criteria and methodologies are available from this site, at all times. Fitch's code of conduct, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, affiliate firewall, compliance and other relevant policies and procedures are also available from the 'Code of Conduct' section of this site.

    Note to Editors: Fitch's National ratings provide a relative measure of creditworthiness for rated entities in countries with relatively low international sovereign ratings and where there is demand for such ratings. The best risk within a country is rated 'AAA' and other credits are rated only relative to this risk. National ratings are designed for use mainly by local investors in local markets and are signified by the addition of an identifier for the country concerned, such as 'AAA(ukr)' for National ratings in Ukraine. Specific letter grades are not therefore internationally comparable.

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