BHP Billiton Limited (ASX: BHP) has had its credit rating cut from A+ to A by ratings agency Standard and Poor’s (S&P).

The iron ore miner’s senior secured notes have been cut from A+ to A, and its subordinated notes from A- to BBB.

Not only that, but S&P has also placed the company on ‘CreditWatch with negative implications’ pending the release of BHP’s first-half results for the six months to December 2015.

If that’s not a sign that BHP’s dividend is going to be slashed, I don’t know what is. CEO Andrew McKenzie has repeatedly stated that the company’s balance sheet and credit rating come first before dividends. The move by S&P is highly likely to see BHP abandon its Progressive Dividend Policy – or face further credit rating downgrades.

We’ll have more to come later today…

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Motley Fool contributor Mike King has no position in any stocks mentioned. You can follow Mike on Twitter @TMFKinga

Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.