Moody’s Investors Service, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s have all reviewed the VPA’s plan to pay back the revenue bonds it will sell to finance the expansion of the north berth at Norfolk International Terminals. The US$90m project involves the purchase of three new Suez-class cranes, a 900 ft expansion of the wharf and a reconfiguration of the container and rail yards.
Both Moody’s and Fitch upgraded their ratings of the VPA’s bonds: Moody’s from ‘A1’ to ‘Aa3’ and Fitch from ‘A’ to ‘A+’. The S&P rating remains an ‘A’. All three rating firms highlighted the VPA’s sound financial track record, its overall growth/expansion plans, its long-term contracts with primary customers and improvements to its Heartland Corridor rail service as positive factors.
They were also impressed by strong support it receives from the state government and by the seasoned leadership at Virginia International Terminal Inc (VIT), the VPA’s non-stock operating company. Other strengths included the port’s natural assets, such as deep shipping channels and its geographic location.