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Papaconstantinou Criticises Fitch Downgrade, Kathimerini Reports

Jan. 16 (Bloomberg) -- Fitch Ratings Ltd. and other credit-rating services are ignoring Greece’s achievements in reining in its fiscal deficit, Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou told Kathimerini newspaper.

“There’s a wider issue here about rating companies that is relevant on a European level,” Papaconstantinou said in an interview published today. Decisions should be based on concrete data and not projections that are often underpinned by estimates that have no basis, he was cited as saying.

Greece lost its last investment grade rating on Jan. 14 as Fitch lowered the country’s debt one level to BB+, or junk. The move was foreshadowed by a warning last month and the rating matches Moody’s Investors Service Ltd. and Standard & Poor’s.

Papaconstantinou said the rating companies are placing too much emphasis on the medium-term outlook and possible developments stemming from European decisions for the period after 2013, according to the newspaper. He said they overlook Greece’s achievements in meeting targets laid out under the 110 billion-euro ($147 billion) bailout from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, in the interview.

Reports that Greece is in talks to restructure debt, such as extending repayments to private debtors, are false, Papaconstantinou was cited as saying. The bailout package and a recent decision to stretch Greek repayments of loans from the package were events that “completely changed the facts and course of developments,” he reportedly said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Maria Petrakis in Athens at mpetrakis@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Angela Cullen at acullen8@bloomberg.net

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