Eksportfinans Says Investor Won’t Prevail on Japan Default Claim

Eksportfinans ASA said it’s confident in contesting a default claim by Silver Point Capital on its Japanese bonds after Moody’s Investors Services downgraded the company further into junk territory.

Eksportfinans will “vigorously resist the claim on the basis that there is no default, and the company is therefore of the opinion that this complaint will not prevail,” the Oslo-based company said today in a statement.

Moody’s yesterday downgraded the company’s senior debt ratings to Ba3 from Ba1, citing the demand for payment from an investor in Japanese bonds. Moody’s kept a negative outlook.

“This event highlights the continued significant risk that Eksportfinans faces if a successful declaration of default occurs, which could trigger an early repayment of some or all of its obligations,” Moody’s said.

Silver Point filed a complaint in a Japanese court demanding 400 million yen ($4.4 million), based on an allegation that the Norwegian lender defaulted on its Samurai bonds. The complaint was sent to the Tokyo District Court by Silver Point Capital Fund LP and Silver Point Capital Offshore Master Fund LP, and forms part of a total claim of 8.6 billion yen, according to Eksportfinans. The lender is being wound down after the Norwegian government withdrew its support.

Eksportfinans was downgraded to junk at Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service in 2011 after the Norwegian government opted to set up a new export financing program to replace the 50-year-old lender. The decision roiled investors holding its $39 billion in bonds as far afield as Japan.