GlaxoSmithKline, already rocked by a bribery scandal in China, suffered a fresh setback today when Moody's Investors Service cut its credit outlook for the British drugmaker on concerns about cash outflows.
Moody's said the reduction in the long-term A1 rating to negative from stable was not triggered by the situation in China, where analysts believe GSK may face fines following allegations that up to 3 billion yuan ($489 million) was funnelled through travel agencies to facilitate bribes.
A company spokesman said GSK was "relaxed" about the move, which would not affect its ability to access capital markets.
GSK's CEO told Reuters in June that he had a low appetite for further acquisitions and divestments would far exceed the cost of buying businesses as the company slims down ready for a wave of its new medicines to reach the market.
Moody's said GSK's financial profile had been hurt by its debt-financed acquisition of Human Genome Sciences last year, as well as legal settlements linked to past investigations and its policy of continuing to make large share buybacks.