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Moody's affirms Washington Prime's ratings, revises outlook

Moody's affirmed all of Washington Prime Group Inc.'s ratings including its Ba1 preferred stock rating, while revising the outlook to negative from stable.

In addition, the rating agency affirmed the Baa3 senior unsecured debt issuer rating on the company's unit, Washington Prime Group LP.

Moody's attributed the change in outlook to possible cash flow risk owing to the REIT's mall portfolio as the retail environment is becoming progressively challenging.

The rating agency cited the company's impending debt maturities as another factor in the change in outlook with $938 million worth of debt maturing in 2019 and a further $947 million in 2020.

In a note, Moody's said the affirmation of Washington Prime's rating reflects its robust fixed charge coverage, increasing unencumbered assets, national platform, and diversification across two complementary asset classes, that strengthens its leasing strategy.

Furthermore, the rating agency acknowledged the company's reduced debt levels. However, it noted that the leverage is still high given concerns about lower malls output amid the current retail environment.