NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Following Thermo Fisher Scientific's announcement today that it will issue senior notes to fund in part its $3.5 billion acquisition of Phadia, ratings agency Fitch assigned an "A-" rating to the notes.
Thermo Fisher has not yet disclosed the terms of the notes or how much it expects to raise in the offering.
In a statement describing its rationale for the "A-" rating, however, Fitch said that debt funding for the purchases of Phadia and Dionex, which was completed in May, has significantly increased Thermo Fisher's debt load.
Fitch added, though, that given Thermo Fisher's "robust" free-cash flow, a rapid debt pay-down is achievable, and it expects the Waltham, Mass.-based company to have enough cash on hand to retire "a good amount of debt over the next 12-18 months."
Fitch also anticipates Thermo Fisher to prioritize debt reduction "as a use of discretionary [free cash flow] in 2012, as opposed to shareholder-friendly capital allocation."
Regardless of the impact of debt funding for its recent acquisitions, Fitch said that the "A-" rating will require Thermo Fisher to maintain its debt at or below twice its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.
Fitch also said it expects to assign an "F2" rating to Thermo Fisher's $1 billion commercial paper program.
The joint book-running managers on Thermo Fisher's offering are Barclays Capital, Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner& Smith, and JP Morgan.