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Rating Action:

MOODY'S AFFIRMS BANK OF AMERICA'S RATINGS (Aa1 DEPOSITS); REVIEWS MBNA FOR UPGRADE (A3 DEPOSITS)

30 Jun 2005
MOODY'S AFFIRMS BANK OF AMERICA'S RATINGS (Aa1 DEPOSITS); REVIEWS MBNA FOR UPGRADE (A3 DEPOSITS)

New York, June 30, 2005 -- Moody's Investors Service affirmed the ratings of Bank of America Corporation (BAC) and its subsidiaries (holding company senior at Aa2 and long-term bank deposits at Aa1). At the same time, Moody's placed the ratings of MBNA Corporation (MBNA) under review for possible upgrade (holding company senior at Baa2 and bank deposits at A3/Prime 2). The rating action follows today's announcement that BAC will acquire MBNA in a stock and cash transaction that is valued at $35 billion. The transaction is expected to close in the fourth quarter of 2005, pending regulatory and MBNA shareholder approval.

In affirming BAC's ratings, Moody's said that MBNA, reflective of its dominant affinity card franchise, is the best performing monoline credit card company. Moreover, BAC should realize significant cost savings related to a larger managed card portfolio. As a result, BAC will show better consolidated profitability, although this could be at least partially offset by the loss of some of MBNA's financial institution affinity business. Moody's noted the integration challenges associated with the MBNA transaction, but highlighted BAC's success so far in the integration of the Fleet acquisition. On the other hand, potential cultural differences cannot be ignored.

In Moody's view, the MBNA acquisition reflects BAC's opportunistic response to the challenges it faces growing earnings in the mature banking business. Historically, BAC has generated much of its growth through large U.S. bank acquisitions. However, BAC is barred from further large bank acquisitions in the US because of the national 10% deposit ceiling. Therefore, the company seeks EPS growth through expansion outside of its traditional retail banking business and through higher leverage. BAC's recently announced investment in a Chinese bank as well as its proposed share buyback in connection with the MBNA transaction are also examples of this, Moody's noted. The rating agency said the opportunistic nature of this strategy creates a degree of uncertainty over BAC's future business direction. This uncertainty, along with pending litigation issues, currently limit the upside rating potential at BAC, according to Moody's.

On a combined basis, managed card receivables approximate $165 billion, based on year-end 2004 outstandings. On a year-end 2004 pro forma basis, MBNA contributes 16% of BAC's consolidated income, but total card income approaches 25% of combined earnings. BAC's increased reliance on credit card revenues appears to be more than offset by its lesser dependence on more volatile, market-sensitive, sources of income. Moreover, the rating agency stated, continued improvement in BAC's recurring earnings power without substantially adding to the company's risk profile could have positive rating consequences.

In placing MBNA's ratings on review for possible upgrade, Moody's said that if the transaction is completed, the depositors and other creditors of MBNA should benefit from BAC's larger and more diversified wholesale and consumer banking franchise. Moody's also cited improved funding of MBNA's asset base as a result of BAC's substantial core deposit base.

The following is a partial list of MBNA ratings affected by this action:

MBNA Corporation --

Senior unsecured -- Baa2

Subordinate MTN -- Baa3

Preferred stock -- Ba1

Preferred Shelf --(P)Ba1

MBNA America Bank, N.A. --

Bank deposits -- A3/P-2

Bank financial strength -- C

Issuer -- Baa1

Senior unsecured -- Baa1

Subordinate bank note program -- Baa2

ST bank note program -- P-2

Bank of America Corporation, based in Charlotte, NC, had assets of $1.2 trillion at March 31, 2005.

New York
Gregory W. Bauer
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

New York
Rosemarie Conforte
Senior Vice President
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

No Related Data.
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