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19 Aug 2004
MOODY'S ASSIGNS Aa3 ISSUER RATING TO WESTFAELISCH-LIPPISCHER SPARKASSEN- UND GIROVERBAND (WLSGV) AND Aa3 LONG-TERM RATING TO WLSGV'S FORTHCOMING BOND ISSUE; STABLE OUTLOOKS
London, 19 August 2004 -- Moody's Investors Service assigned a Aa3 issuer rating to Westfälisch-Lippischer
Sparkassen-und Giroverband (WLSGV). The rating agency indicated
that the Aa3 long-term rating should also apply to the forthcoming
bond that WLSGV plans to issue shortly. WLSGV is the regional savings
banks association for the 77 independent savings banks in Westphalia and
is based in Muenster, Germany. Located in the Northern and
Eastern parts of Nordrhein-Westfalen, these banks jointly
had total assets of EUR105.6 billion and equity of EUR5.2
billion at the end of 2003. The outlook for the ratings is stable.
According to Moody's, the rating is based on the association's
low risk profile and conservative financial position, the strong
legal and statutory links between WLSGV and the savings banks and,
finally, the sound commercial and financial profile of the savings
banks in the region. Moody's added that it does not expect
the abolition of Anstaltslast and Gewährträgerhaftung post July
2005 to affect the credit quality of the savings banks and the respective
rating of the association's forthcoming bond issue.
WLSGV is a public-law institution and membership is mandatory for
all the savings banks and their guarantors, indicative of its important
function for the banks. The association primarily serves to represent
the banks' interests in discussions with legislators, regulators
and other public authorities, to provide various support services
to its member banks, and to manage the sector's regional support
mechanisms that have effectively protected the liquidity and solvency
of each member bank. It also acts as a holding company for the
banks' interests in associated companies that are considered of
strategic importance for the sector, such as WestLB AG, insurance
company Westfälische Provinzial, building society LBS West
or the fund manager Dekabank. Finally, the association is
also responsible for auditing the accounts of the member banks.
Moody's added that WLSGV is not a bank or financial holding company
and therefore not subject to German banking regulation and supervision.
However, the association, as well as the savings banks,
is subject to the formal control of the Ministries of State and Finance
According to the rating agency, WLSGV benefits from a sound financial
position. Notably, it displays only a very limited level
of external indebtedness, as it has generally funded its equity
investments through members' contributions and raises debt only
on rare occasions. However, the strategic nature of most
of its participations and its own modest financial resources effectively
limit its financial flexibility.
In Moody's opinion, the legal and statutory framework enshrined
in the Savings Banks Act for Nordrhein-Westfalen and WLSGV's
statutes effectively allows WLSGV to rely on the savings banks'
aggregate financial strength and creditworthiness. In particular,
the law and statutes authorise WLSGV's executive board to levy charges
on the savings banks in order to cover its operating expenses and other
financial obligations in a timely manner. Furthermore, they
stipulate that the savings banks are fully and jointly liable for WLSGV's
liabilities and will be obliged to cover any shortfall. Notwithstanding
this well-tested framework, which is not affected by the
upcoming abolition of the legal support mechanisms of Anstaltslast and
Gewaehrtraegerhaftung, Moody's emphasized that WLSGV's
creditors do not have a direct recourse to the banks.
With respect to the aggregate position of these 77 savings banks,
Moody's commented positively on the strength of their attractive
franchise, their dominant and stable position in the retail and
SME markets, their overall low risk profile and sound financial
fundamentals. Backed by solid and growing margins and a satisfactory
operating efficiency, the banks enjoy a robust and predictable recurring
earnings power. Healthy asset quality has led to generally manageable
provisioning requirements that do not put undue strain on the banks'
good and rising pre-provision income. Moody's also
noted that although reported profitability indicators appear low and compare
unfavourably to European peers, they already incorporate,
on this aggregate basis, allocations to the fund for general banking
risks, thereby adding to the banks' solid aggregate economic
and regulatory capitalisation and understating somewhat their intrinsic
earnings power. With regard to the financial risks that could possibly
result from the banks' substantial equity participations,
held indirectly through WLSGV, Moody's believes that in adverse
circumstances the savings banks' aggregate resources should still
be sufficient to absorb a material loss and that the overall impact on
the bank's profitability and capital strength should remain within
Finally, Moody's pointed out that while the Aa3 rating for
WLSGV's bond is ultimately based on the savings banks' aggregate
strength, the rating should not be interpreted as an indication
of the strength of each individual bank or of the combination of all these
institutions, due to meaningful differences in the way the savings
banks have obligations vis-a-vis WLSGV and among
Samuel S. Theodore
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454
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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