Fitch: DISH Debt Offering Rated BB-, Outlook "Negative"

Fitch Ratings has given DISH Network's (NASDAQ: DISH  ) recent proposed offering of $2.5 billion in senior secured notes a speculative investment grade of "BB-". Fitch also gave a continuing "Negative" outlook for all of DISH's debt ratings on Wednesday. The satellite TV provider had around $11.9 billion in debt at the end of the first quarter.

Fitch said Wednesday that it based its rating on both the company's "inconsistent" operating results and on the increased debt DISH would need to take on in its $25.5 billion bid for Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) . The Sprint bid would require DISH borrowing a further $9.3 billion on top of the $12 billion in cash and liquid securities it has already gathered for the proposed transaction, Fitch said.

The $2.5 billion DISH offering would be put in escrow and make up part of the Sprint transaction, if successful. If not, those notes would be redeemed using cash from the escrow account.

DISH announced this morning that it had placed an offering of $2.6 billion in senior notes. Its subsidiary DISH DBS Corp. priced an offering of $1.25 billion aggregate principal amount of 5% senior notes due in 2017 and $1.35 billion aggregate principal amount of 6.25% senior notes due in 2023. The offering is expected to close on May 28.

In its Wednesday statement Fitch was doubtful that DISH's plans to take over Sprint would result in viable competition for the "strong entrenched market participants" if the combined company could not offer a distinct service advantage. In addition, the "narrow" DISH product offering of video service only puts the company at a disadvantage compared to the broader offerings from its cable and telephone company competition, Fitch said.

On Tuesday, Moody's Investors Service downgraded DISH DBS Corporation's corporate family rating (CFR) to Ba3 from Ba2.

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