Sept 15, Colombo: Fitch Ratings has downgraded Sri Lanka’s Long-Term Local-Currency (LTLFC) Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘RD’ (Restricted Default) from ‘C’. The ratings on its local-currency bonds tendered in the domestic debt exchange have been downgraded to ‘D’ from ‘C’ while its other four local-currency bonds not tendered in the domestic debt exchange have been affirmed at ‘C’.
The Long-Term Foreign-Currency (LTFC) IDR has been affirmed at ‘RD’, and the ratings on Sri Lanka’s foreign-currency bonds have been affirmed at ‘D’.
All issue ratings have subsequently been withdrawn.
Fitch has withdrawn the issue ratings of Sri Lanka’s foreign and local-currency bonds as these are no longer considered to be relevant to the agency’s coverage.
KEY RATING DRIVERS
Distressed Debt Exchange: The downgrade of Sri Lanka’s LTLC IDR reflects the partial completion of an exchange of Sri Lanka’s T-bonds on 14 September as part of a broader domestic debt optimisation (DDO) launched in July 2023. The DDO also includes conversion of T-bills held by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) into treasury bonds (T-bonds), which has not yet been completed.
n Fitch’s view, the exchange of T-bonds constitutes a distressed debt exchange (DDE) under the agency’s criteria, given that the maturity extension of the tendered bonds represents a material reduction in terms versus the original contractual terms, and given that the exchange is needed to avoid a traditional payment default.