Fitch says Angola currency move signals policy shift, Moody’s doesn’t anticipate default

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LUANDA, Jan 11 (Reuters) – Moody’s assumes the Angolan government does not intend to default on its debt after ambiguous wording in official statements, the ratings agency said in a research report.

Angola this month unveiled plans to restructure its foreign debt and devalued the kwanza currency after the collapse in global oil prices from mid-2014 had battered its economy.

The exchange rate changes in Africa’s second-largest oil producer garnered most attention, with investors saying the kwanza needed to fall further before it reached fair value.

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Moody’s said in a report sent to media on Thursday that the new kwanza regime and the government’s desire to renegotiate debt underscored existing pressures on Angola’s credit ratings, which include falling economic growth and liquidity risks.

It said it expected Angola’s debt-to-GDP ratio to rise and for higher inflation to weigh on growth, although it said the country’s current account was likely to improve over time.

The ratings agency said it had discussed the recent policy changes with the Angolan government.

Angolan President Joao Lourenço has embarked on a series of policy and personnel shifts since taking over from long-serving predecessor Jose Eduardo dos Santos in September.

Earlier this week, Lourenço removed the son of dos Santos as head of Angola’s sovereign wealth fund, in a move to wrest control of another key area of the state.

Meanwhile Fitch says: ANGOLA FX MOVE SIGNALS POLICY SHIFT, BUT “LACKS CLARITY”

* FITCH SAYS DECISIONS BY ANGOLAN AUTHORITIES, INCLUDING SHIFT TO MORE FLEXIBLE EXCHANGE RATE MECHANISM, SIGNAL POTENTIALLY MORE EFFECTIVE POLICY ADJUSTMENT