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I AGREE
Announcement:

MOODY'S AFFIRMS RATINGS OF BRITANNIA BUILDING SOCIETY AT A2/P-1/C+ ; POSITIVE OUTLOOK AND OF BRISTOL AND WEST'S RATINGS AT Aa3/P-1/C+ ; STABLE OUTLOOK FOLLOWING ANNOUNCEMENT THAT SOCIETY IS TO BUY THE BRANCH NETWORK OF BRISTOL & WEST.

24 May 2005
MOODY'S AFFIRMS RATINGS OF BRITANNIA BUILDING SOCIETY AT A2/P-1/C+ ; POSITIVE OUTLOOK AND OF BRISTOL AND WEST'S RATINGS AT Aa3/P-1/C+ ; STABLE OUTLOOK FOLLOWING ANNOUNCEMENT THAT SOCIETY IS TO BUY THE BRANCH NETWORK OF BRISTOL & WEST.

London, 24 May 2005 -- Moody's Investors Service has affirmed the ratings of Britannia Building Society, A2/P-1/C+ and positive outlook following the announcement that the society is to purchase the branch network of Bristol & West. The ratings of Bristol & West rated Aa3/P-1/C+ were also affirmed with a stable outlook. Bristol & West a UK based mortgage lender is fully owned by Bank of Ireland (Aa3/P-1/B).

Under the proposal Britannia will acquire Bristol & West's 97 branches and one contact centre along with 850,000 customers representing about GBP4.5 billion of savings balances. The purchase excludes branch originated mortgage balances. The purchase will help enhance Britannia's representation in a part of the United Kingdom where it perceives itself to be relatively underweight.

The impact of the transaction upon Britannia's Tier 1 ratio is likely to be minimal and, given the low risk mortgage business the society carries out, should remain more than adequate. Profitability at Britannia will likewise be marginally impacted over the next eighteen months or so by the impact of investment in the Bristol & West branches but should recovery strongly in 2007.

Moody's commented that the ratings impact on Britannia of this transaction will be neutral to mildly positive in the medium term.

Bristol & West is the regulated UK entity that essentially covers the majority of Bank of Ireland's UK operations (the exceptions being the Bank of Ireland branded branch network across the UK). UK operations now generate almost a third of Bank of Ireland revenue.

Moody's went on to say that Bristol & West's deposit ratings are closely linked to, and driven by, Bank of Ireland and that it did not believe that the disposal of the branch network in any way lessen Bank of Ireland's commitment to Bristol & West and the UK more generally. Rather it sees the disposal in the context of the more general strategic re-engineering process and the cost reduction strategy at the company (and indeed the cost containment drive across the Bank of Ireland group as a whole). The overall impact on the UK mortgage franchise was minimal given that the vast majority of Bristol & West's business was now either direct or via intermediaries (less than 5% of mortgages sourced by Bristol & West come via the branches).

In Moody's view Bristol & West's financial strength rating of C+ is well positioned at present putting it on a par with mid sized UK mortgage lenders such as Portman Building Society. The disposal of its branch network might well prove ratings enhancing for the Financial Strength Rating in the medium term.

Britannia, headquartered in Leek, Staffordshire, was the 12th largest mortgage lender in the United Kingdom at end 2004 and the second largest building society, with a market share of approximately 2%. At the end 2004 Britannia, had total mortgage assets of around GBP16 billion (€23 billion).

Bristol & West, based in the City of Bristol, had total assets of GBP19 Billion (€28 Billion) at the end March 2005. The bank which specialises in non-standard mortgage offerings, is currently the 11th largest mortgage lender in the UK and has an approximate 2.0% market share of new lending.

Limassol
Adel Satel
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Cyprus Limited
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

London
Edward Vincent
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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