Raft of US projects lifted by Fitch criteria change

Following a shift in criteria for availability payment-based project financing, a handful of schemes have seen their ratings boosted.

After publishing revised rating criteria for availability-based infrastructure earlier this year, Fitch Ratings recently upgraded ratings on four projects and affirmed two others in its US portfolio of availability payment project financings. 

Ratings actions include:

– The Portsmouth Gateway Group, contracted in the Portsmouth Bypass project in Ohio, was upgraded to 'A-' from 'BBB' for $227 million in debt issued by the Ohio state treasury and $208 million in Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) loans; 

– WVB East End Partners, developers of the Ohio River Bridges East End Crossing project, was upgraded to 'BBB+' from 'BBB-' on $482.3 million in long-term private activity bonds (PABs) and $194.5 million in short-term PABS issued by the Indiana Finance Authority; 

– NYNJ Link Borrower, contracted on the Goethals Bridge Replacement project, was upgraded to 'BBB' from 'BBB-' on $460.9 million PABs issued by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority on behalf of the concessionaire and a $473.6 million (excluding capital interest) TIFIA loan to NYNJ Link. 

– Denver Transit Partners of the Eagle public-private partnership (P3) project, saw upgrade to 'A-' from 'BBB-' for $398 million in tax-exempt PABs issued by the Regional Transportation District (RTD) on behalf of the consortium;

– I-69 Development Partners of the I-69 Section 5 project was affirmed at 'BBB' on $3.53 million in PAB serial bonds due in 2017 and about $240.32 million term PABs due over various maturities no later than 2046;

– KentuckyWired Infrastructure Company of the Next Generation Kentucky Information Highway project was affirmed at 'BBB+' on $232 million senior tax-exempt revenue bonds and $58 million in  senior taxable revenue bonds.

The actions taken were based on Fitch's assessment of cost risk, realistic outside cost (ROC) stresses, indicative debt service coverage ratio (DSCR) thresholds, breakeven cost analysis and completion risk where applicable, according to a statement. 

Denver Eagle P3 was upgraded based on its counterparty credit strength after Fitch rated Fluor Corporation at 'A-' with stable outlook.