12 May 2012

Fonterra says TAF could increase credit ratings

5:34 am on 12 May 2012

Fonterra says the enactment of its controversial Trading Amongst Farmers proposals could earn it an increase in its credit ratings.

The dairy co-operative is rated A+ by Standard & Poor's and AA- by Fitch.

Chief financial officer Jonathan Mason told MPs considering legislation for the trading proposals that Fonterra's size underpins its strong ratings now.

He says just as important to the ratings is a stipulation in Fonterra's constitution that interest be paid out of earnings ahead of milk payments to farmers.

But Mr Mason told MPs the co-operative's existing capital structure is detracting from its creditworthiness in the eyes of the agencies.

He says the rating agencies have minor worries about Fonterra's current structure because of the unexpected nature of outflows and they see a benefit in permanent capital.

Mr Mason says given that, the enactment of the Trading Among Farmers or TAF scheme could see a ratings upgrade.