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Rating Action:

MOODY'S AFFIRMS THE Baa1/P-2 RATINGS OF ODDO & CIE (FRANCE) FOLLOWING THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE POSSIBLE ACQUISITION OF THE FRENCH EQUITY BROKERAGE OF CREDIT LYONNAIS

09 Feb 2004
MOODY'S AFFIRMS THE Baa1/P-2 RATINGS OF ODDO & CIE (FRANCE) FOLLOWING THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE POSSIBLE ACQUISITION OF THE FRENCH EQUITY BROKERAGE OF CREDIT LYONNAIS

Paris, February 09, 2004 -- Moody's Investors Service affirmed with a stable outlook the Baa1/Prime-2 long- and short-term bank deposit ratings of Oddo & Cie, following the announcement that the company had entered into exclusive negotiations with Credit Lyonnais to acquire the French brokerage activities of Credit Lyonnais Securities Europe (CLSE), encompassing CLSE's Paris-based equity research and sales teams, its New York sales team, and CLSE's equity mid cap operations based in Lyon.

Moody's commented that - if completed - the transaction will significantly enhance Oddo's franchise and position among French equity brokers, by expanding its equity research coverage, with a deeper breadth of coverage of European large cap stocks, as well as its distribution capacity, notably among US institutional clients. Furthermore, Oddo should achieve a leading position in the mid cap segment, affording synergies in corporate broking, corporate finance and wealth management. In addition, although the financial terms of the transaction still remain to be finalized between the two parties, Moody's believes that the acquisition price can comfortably be funded from Oddo's existing financial resources and will not materially affect its current strong solvency.

Oddo's ratings remain based on its good niche franchise in domestic equity brokerage and asset management, calibrated strategy and low risk profile, and also on the 27% strategic minority stake held in Oddo by French insurance group AGF.

Somewhat tempering the benefits that might ensue from the acquisition, Moody's also pointed to the execution risks involved in the integration. The equity brokerage business remains subject to intense competition, notably from major French banking groups and international securities firms, leading to margin compression and lower volumes, undermining underlying profitability. Furthermore, as the evolution of equity markets remains uncertain, Oddo will be faced with the challenge of right sizing its combined brokerage operation and stemming operating losses, while retaining key analysts and producers. However, Moody's also said that the financial risks involved in the transaction are low and that Oddo's management has demonstrated its capacity to successfully integrate several acquisitions made in prior years in brokerage and wealth management, which have contributed to enhance its market position and earning power.

The following ratings were affirmed:

Oddo & Cie - long-term bank deposit at Baa1, short-term bank deposit at Prime-2.

Oddo & Cie is an independent investment services firm involved in equity and bond brokerage, asset management, private wealth management and corporate finance. Based in Paris, France, the company had total assets of € 1.9 billion and shareholders' equity of € 188 million at year-end 2002.

London
Samuel S. Theodore
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456 SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Paris
Jean-Luc Lepreux
Senior Vice President
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's France S.A.
Telephone:33 1 53 30 10 73
Facsimile:33 1 42 66 32 20

No Related Data.
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