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Rating Action:

MOODY'S ASSIGNS A1/P-1 DEPOSIT RATINGS AND C FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATING TO FRANCE'S NATEXIS BANQUES POPULAIRES; WITHDRAWS THE C+ FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATING OF CAISSE CENTRALE DES BANQUES POPULAIRES WHILE CONFIRMING ITS Aa3/P-1 RATINGS; CONFIRMS WITH A POSIT

07 Jun 1999
MOODY'S ASSIGNS A1/P-1 DEPOSIT RATINGS AND C FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATING TO FRANCE'S NATEXIS BANQUES POPULAIRES; WITHDRAWS THE C+ FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATING OF CAISSE CENTRALE DES BANQUES POPULAIRES WHILE CONFIRMING ITS Aa3/P-1 RATINGS; CONFIRMS WITH A POSIT Moody's Investors Service assigned A1/P-1 long- and short-term deposit ratings and a C financial strength rating to France's Natexis Banques Populaires (formerly Natexis S.A.). At the same time, the C+ financial strength rating of Caisse Centrale des Banques Populaires (CCBP) was withdrawn and the D+ financial strength rating of Natexis Banque was confirmed with a positive outlook. In addition, the preferred stock rating of Natexis AMBS Company L.L.C. was upgraded at "a3" from "baa1". Moody's also confirmed the Aa3 senior long-term debt and deposit ratings of all rated Banques Populaires, as well as the A1 long-term rating of Natexis Banque, while maintaining a negative outlook on all these ratings. The short-term ratings of Banques Populaires and Natexis Banque were confirmed at Prime-1. The ratings of Natexis's long-term debt guaranteed by the Republic of France remain unchanged at Aaa.

These rating actions conclude a rating review process initiated in January 1999, when Banques Populaires Group announced a major restructuring of its wholesale and asset management activities. Banques Populaires currently hold 71.4% of the capital of Natexis S.A., the holding company of Natexis Banque and this controlling interest should reach at least 85% following the restructuring.

Commenting these various rating actions, Moody's said that the withdrawal of CCBP's financial strength rating reflected the fact that CCBP's role will in future be restricted to its statutory role as Banques Populaires's central funding entity. Following the full transfer of its activities and staff to Natexis Banques Populaires, CCBP will no longer act as an operating bank and Natexis Banques Populaires (NBP) will now become the group's main operating subsidiary in wholesale banking and capital markets activities, as well as the holding company for the group's affiliates in asset management, insurance etc. NBP and its subsidiary Natexis Banques will shortly start operating as a single business unit and a merger of the two legal entities is expected to take place over the medium term.

In respect to the transfer of CCBP's assets and liabilities, Moody's noted that if debt will be transferred from CCBP (senior at Aa3) to NBP without a full guarantee from CCBP, it will carry the ratings appropriate for NBP debt (senior at A1).

In confirming the Aa3 long-term ratings of CCBP and of 13 regional banks of the Banques Populaires group, Moody's said that the restructuring should not affect the group's overall creditworthiness - which continues to be underpinned by the quality of its franchise, by the profitability of the regional banks' retail operations, and by the strong deposit base.

Moody's also said that the C financial strength rating assigned to Natexis Banques Populaires reflected its good pro-forma financial structure and business mix, mitigated however by lower profitability indicators and by a somewhat higher risk profile than the Banques Populaires. In its role of provider of financial services to the Banques Populaires, NBP's franchise value hinged on the strong distribution capacity of their retail network. At the same time, while the combination of CCBP's and Natexis Banque's wholesale banking activities will clearly benefit from a higher critical mass and should allow for economies of scale, the group's franchise value and breadth of business appear more moderate than those of its main domestic competitors.

Finally, in confirming Natexis Banque's D+ financial strength rating, Moody's said that although the bank's recovery appear on track, as reflected by the positive rating outlook, its financial strength still remains more modest, characterized by an increasing reliance on market driven revenues and by the slow materialization of costs savings.

The following ratings were assigned:

Natexis Banques Populaires (formerly Natexis S.A.) - long-term deposit at A1, short-term deposit at P-1, financial strength at C.

The following rating was upgraded:

Natexis AMBS Company L.L.C. - preferred stock at "a3" from "baa1".

The following rating was withdrawn:

Caisse Centrale des Banques Populaires - bank financial strength at C+.

The following ratings were confirmed:

Caisse Centrale des Banques Populaires - senior long-term obligations at Aa3, subordinated debts at A1, issuer at Aa3 and short-term deposit at Prime-1.

Bred Banque Populaire - long-term debt and deposit at Aa3, short-term deposit at Prime-1 and financial strength at D+.

Banque Monétaire et Financière - long-term debt and deposit at Aa3 and short-term deposit at Prime-1.

Banque Populaire Industrielle, Sud de Paris - long-term deposit at Aa3 and short-term deposit at Prime-1.

Banque Populaire de la Région Economique de Strasbourg - long-term deposit at Aa3.

Banque Populaire Bretagne Atlantique - long-term deposit at Aa3.

Banque Populaire Toulouse-Pyrénées - long-term deposit at Aa3.

Banque Populaire de Franche-Comté - long-term deposit at Aa3.

Banque Populaire du Haut Rhin - long-term deposit at Aa3.

Banque Populaire de Lorraine - long-term deposit at Aa3.

Banque Populaire de l'Ouest - long-term deposit at Aa3.

Banque Populaire de la Région Sud de Paris - long-term deposit at Aa3.

Banque Populaire du Nord - long-term deposit at Aa3.

Casden - Banque Populaire - long-term deposit at Aa3 and short-term deposit at Prime-1.

Natexis Banques Populaires (formerly Natexis S.A.) - long-term debt guaranteed by Natexis Banque S.A. at A1, subordinated debt guaranteed by Natexis Banque S.A. at A2, junior subordinated debt guaranteed by Natexis Banque S.A. at A3 and issuer at A1.

Natexis Banque S.A. - short-term deposit at P-1, long-term debt and deposit at A1, subordinated debt at A2, junior subordinated debt at A3, issuer at A1 and financial strength at D+.

Interfinance Natexis N.V. - long-term debt jointly guaranteed by Natexis S.A. and Natexis Banque S.A. at A1.

Interfinance Natexis N.V. - commercial paper jointly guaranteed by Natexis S.A. and Natexis Banque S.A. at Prime-1.

BFCE US Corp. - commercial paper guaranteed by Natexis Banque S.A. at Prime-1.


The ratings of the debt obligations of both Natexis Banque and Natexis S.A. guaranteed by the Republic of France are confirmed at Aaa.


Banques Populaires group is a mutual banking institution, whose statutory funding vehicle, Caisse Centrale des Banques Populaires, is based in Paris. The group had consolidated assets at year-end 1998 of EUR163 bn (FF1,070 bn or approximately USD171 bn). The Natexis group, headquartered in Paris, had consolidated assets of EUR42.5 bn (FF279 bn or approximately USD44.6 bn) at year-end 1998.

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