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'Weak' Nokia credit rating downgraded by S&P following £1.5bn NSN deal

Nokia's credit rating has fallen, following its acquisition of Siemens' 50 per cent stake in Nokia Siemens Networks (NSN) (opens in new tab).

Ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) has downgraded Nokia's score from BB- to B+, well below investment level and one step deeper into junk territory.

"The ratings reflect our revised assessment of Nokia's financial risk profile assessment to 'aggressive' from 'significant'," S&P said. "We continue to assess its business risk profile as 'weak'."

S&P also expressed fears that the firm's "strong balance sheet" will suffer as a direct consequence of the €1.7 billion (£1.5 billion) deal.

"We have lowered our estimate of Nokia's net cash to €1.3 billion or above at end-2013, from €3 billion or above previously," said S&P.

NSN manufactures and sells telecommunications infrastructure equipment to mobile phone carriers, and has recently become profitable, following several years of operating losses.

"Nokia is pleased with these developments and looks forward to continue supporting these efforts to create more shareholder value for the Nokia group," said Nokia CEO Stephen Elop of the NSN deal.

Nokia swiftly responded to S&P's ratings change with a statement from its executive VP and CFO.

"With a strong positive gross and net cash position, Nokia was able to take advantage of an opportunity to fully own Nokia Siemens Networks and, we believe, create meaningful value for Nokia shareholders," said Timo Ihamuotila. "We will continue to prudently manage our cash resources post-transaction."

S&P isn't the only ratings agency that fears for Nokia's future.

Nokia's decision to buy out Siemens "makes strategic sense, but puts pressure on Nokia's balance sheet and comes at a time when the future of its handset business is still uncertain," Owen Fenton and Stuart Reid of Fitch told Bloomberg (opens in new tab).

The Finnish company's NSN acquisition is expected to go through in the third quarter of this year.

Nokia has still got a huge struggle in the smartphone market on its hands, as it continues to do battle with the dominant Samsung and Apple. It is hoping that its upcoming EOS smartphone, which will pack a 41-megapixel camera (opens in new tab), will help it gain a larger share of the market.

Aatif is a freelance copywriter and journalist based in the UK. He’s written about technology, science and politics for publications including Gizmodo, The Independent, Trusted Reviews, Newsweek, and ITProPortal.