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S&P downgrades Tata Motors, cites conditions at Jaguar Land Rover

S&P Global Ratings lowered Indian automaker Tata Motors Ltd.'s long-term issuer credit rating to BB from BB+ with a stable outlook, citing the weakening operating conditions at its U.K.-based unit Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC.

The rating agency said Jaguar's waning resilience was caused by shifting consumer preferences, complex operating conditions, and the automaker's increased exposure to risks from Brexit and potential trade wars.

A decline in Jaguar's sales volumes was partly driven by falling demand for diesel cars in Europe following the Volkswagen AG emissions scandal, according to S&P. Diesel cars accounted for more than 30% of the unit's fiscal 2018 volumes, the agency added.

Brexit-related trade restrictions and U.S. import tariffs could further weigh on Jaguar's operating performance, as the U.K. accounts for about 70% of the automaker's manufacturing capabilities, while North America, mainly the U.S., accounts for 21.7% of its volume.

"[Jaguar's] lower operating scale, higher concentration in the U.K., and lack of manufacturing in its key U.S. market, makes its financial performance less resilient than that of significantly larger peers such as Daimler, BMW, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V.," S&P added.

This S&P Global Market Intelligence news article may contain information about credit ratings issued by S&P Global Ratings, a separately managed division of S&P Global. Descriptions in this news article were not prepared by S&P Global Ratings. The original S&P Global Ratings documents referred to in this news brief can be found here.