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Moody's downgrades Antero Resources on refinancing risks

Moody's lowered Antero Resources Corp.'s corporate family rating to Ba3 from Ba2 and changed its outlook to negative due to increased refinancing risks.

The rating agency also downgraded Antero's probability of default rating to Ba3-PD from Ba2-PD and its senior unsecured notes to B1 from Ba3, according to a Dec. 13 news release.

Moody's said the downgrade reflects the refinancing risk involving Antero's $2.6 billion of bond maturities through 2023, high financial leverage relative to unhedged cash flow, and low natural gas and NGL prices.

To address low prices and near-term maturities, Antero is planning to divest up to $1 billion in assets by 2020 and execute $350 million of midstream cost reductions over the next four years. Moody's said these transactions need to be done quickly to preserve the Ba3 rating.

"Despite putting forward a concrete plan to comprehensively address its cost structure and balance sheet issues, there are risks that the continuation of poor natural gas prices, depressed asset valuations, and a challenged capital market environment could delay and potentially limit Antero's ability to close these transactions as planned," Moody's senior analyst Sajjad Alam said.