S&P takes Nasdaq off watch for credit-rating cut

June 3, 2013

NEW YORK (AP) -- Standard & Poor's has decided against cutting the Nasdaq OMX Group's credit rating after reviewing how the exchange operator plans to pay for two acquisitions.

S&P said Monday that it's taking the Nasdaq off its watch list for a possible downgrade. The rating agency put Nasdaq on notice in April, after it announced plans to buy eSpeed, an electronic platform for trading U.S. government bonds, and three businesses from Thomson Reuters.

S&P said that Nasdaq had initially planned to pay for these deals by selling more than $1 billion in bonds.

But Nasdaq's plans have changed. It's aiming to finance the deals with the sale of €580 million ($753 million) in bonds, along with roughly $350 million in cash and $79 million from a bank credit line, S&P's statement said. The new mix means Nasdaq will take on less debt than anticipated.

When those deals are finished, Nasdaq's total debt is still expected to rise by 40 percent to $2.8 billion, according to S&P. The rating agency said the securities exchange operator will try to pare down its debt over the next year. But "if the company does not make sufficient progress," S&P said it would likely lower Nasdaq's credit ratings from BBB, just two steps above "junk."

Nasdaq OMX Group Inc. announced Monday that it has wrapped up its purchase of the three Thomson Reuters' businesses. The exchange said the acquisition should give a boost to its earnings within a year.