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Rating Action:

DIVERGENT CREDIT OUTLOOK FOR ITALIAN BANKS AS COMPETITION INTENSIFIES, MOODY'S SAYS

14 Jan 1998
DIVERGENT CREDIT OUTLOOK FOR ITALIAN BANKS AS COMPETITION INTENSIFIES, MOODY'S SAYS London, January 14, 1998 -- Moody's expects that the range of Italian bank ratings will continue to widen in coming months as the divergence in credit quality between stronger and weaker banks continues to develop" says a report into Italy's banking system published today.
As competition within the system intensifies the banking sector has seen increasing consolidation and privatisation developments, which are expected to have beneficial effects over the medium term. Against this background of increasing competition, a number of banks are implementing initiatives that are aimed at increasing profitability "Italian banks as a whole are putting greater emphasis on profitability as a key priority and most are implementing programmes aimed at cutting costs, reducing low yielding assets, and broadening revenue sources," say analysts.
The report identifies some important structural developments which should strengthen the banking system in the longer-term. The report notes that in the last year several large banks rated by Moody's have moved from public to private ownership but notes that with the public sector retaining significant stakes in many banks, public involvement in the Italian banking sector remains high. It goes on to say that although the response to deregulation and legislative steps aimed at encouraging greater consolidation has been relatively slow, the pace appears to be picking up, and there were several moves towards greater concentration in 1997.
At the same time, in Moody's view, the longer term structural challenges to the system's profitability in terms of margin compression, inflexible cost structures and high tax rates remain. While there are encouraging signs that banks are beginning to recognise these challenges and address them the report believes that the creditworthiness of weaker banks will likely continue to be vulnerable to the following challenges:
Pressure on profitability mainly as a result of falling interest rates, ahead of EMU convergence, resulting in tighter net interest margins
Worsening asset quality which represents ongoing fall-out from economic weakness and poor credit practices in the early 1990s, particularly in the south of the country
Risk of capital erosion as a result of weak profitability and the consolidation/privatisation process which can further reduce the size of capital bases
Attenuating institutional support reflecting the gradual shift of banking assets from public to private sector, and reducing European Union tolerance for bank bail-outs.

Moody's rates the following banks in Italy

Banca Carige SpA A2/P-1/C
Banca Cassa di Risparmio Torino A1/P-1/C+
Banca Commerciale Italiana SpA A1/P-1/C+
Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena A1/P-1/C+
Banca Nazionale del Lavoro SpA A2/P-1/D+
Banca Popolare di Verona A1/P-1/C+
Banca Popolare di Brescia Baa2/P-3/D
Banca Popolare di Milano A2/P-1/C
Banca Toscana SpA P-1
Banca di Roma SpA* A2/P-1/D+
Banco Ambrosiano Veneto SpA A2/P-1/C
Banco di Napoli SpA Baa2/P-2/E+
Banco di Sicilia SpA* Baa2/P-3/E
Cariverona Banca SpA A1/P-1/C+
Cassa Risparmio Padova Rovigo A1/P-1/C+
Cassa Risparmio Provincie Lombarde A1/P-1/C+
Cassa di Risparmio in Bologna A3/P-2/D+
Crediop SpA Aa3/P-1/B
Credito Fondiario Industriale Baa3/P-3/E+
Credito Italiano Spa A2/P-1/C
Istituto Bancario San Paolo di Torino A1/P-1/C+
Istituto Mobiliare Italiano Spa Aa3/P-1/B
Mediocredito Centrale SpA* Aa3/P-1
Rolo Banca 1473 SpA A2/P-1/C

* On review for possible downgrade

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: For a copy of this Moody's report, please contact Donna Gee in New York (212) 553-0376, Andrew Chmaj in London (171) 772-5454, Juan Pablo Soriano in Madrid (341) 310 1454, Katrina Braund in Sydney (612) 9270 8111, Mauricette Salque in Paris (331) 53 30 10 20, Juergen Berblinger in Frankfurt (4969) 242 840, Velvet Yoshinami in Tokyo (813) 3593 0734, Hilary Parkes in Toronto (416) 214-1635, Edward Young in Hong Kong (8522) 509 0200, Patrick Winsbury in Singapore (65) 320 8330 or Christiana Aguiar in São Paulo (5511) 3043-7186.


No Related Data.
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