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Gazprom gets top credit rating from China agencyReuters

Chinese credit rating agency Dagong Global has given Russian gas giant Gazprom the highest AAA rating, saying the Western sanctions would not impact the company.

"The ratings reflect Gazprom's extremely strong wealth creation capability, and the very low degree of deviation between its available repayment sources and wealth creation capability," Dagong said in a statement.

"The sanctions imposed by the US and EU as well as the short-run deterioration of the Russian economy impose little impact on the repayment capacity of Gazprom. The local currency repayment capacity and foreign currency repayment capacity are both extremely strong."

The rating agency noted that Gazprom has abundant and secure reserve base, wide and increasing market demand to back profitability. In addition, its strategic cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to enhance its profitability further.

The agency noted that Gazprom's available repayment sources are mainly from its own wealth creation capability, and therefore it is less likely to default on its debts.

The Russian economy's "short-run contraction" and the deterioration of the credit environment would not negatively impact the company, Dagong added.

"Obtaining such a credit rating by Dagong will further expand the base of investors from the Asia-Pacific region in debt instruments of Gazprom, including pension funds, insurance companies, investment funds and banks, as well as increasing the loyalty of Asian investors in the company," Gazprom said in a statement, as translated by Russia Today.

The high credit rating from Dagong would enable Gazprom to place shares in Hong Kong, the agency's president Guan Jianzhong said earlier. Dagong Global rating agency was established in 1994, and its ratings are recognised by the Chinese government.

The development comes as leading Western agencies such as Moody's, S&P and Fitch downgraded Russia's sovereign rating to junk or near-junk level.

Citing Western sanctions on Russia, Moody's in January downgraded ratings of Russian companies including Gazprom, Transneft, LUKOIL and Rosneft.

Russia's central bank earlier said it would ignore credit ratings issued by Standard & Poor's, Fitch Ratings and Moody's Investor Service after 1 March 2014, and refer to ratings issued before its annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

In order to counter the West's "Big Three" credit raters, China and Russia are joining hands to strengthen the new Universal Credit Rating Group (UCRG). The first ratings of UCRG would be issued in 2015, according to media reports.