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Rating Action:

MOODY'S ASSIGNS RATINGS TO TWO THAI BANKS

19 Jun 1996
MOODY'S ASSIGNS RATINGS TO TWO THAI BANKS Hong Kong, 06-19-96 -- Moody's Investors Service assigned short- and long-term foreign currency deposit ratings, senior debt ratings, and Bank Financial Strength Ratings (BFSR) to two Thai banks: Bangkok Metropolitan Bank and First Bangkok City Bank. In addition, Moody's assigned Ba2 ratings to the $50 MM subordinated FRN, due in the year 2000, issued by Bangkok Metropolitan Bank. This was the first time that Moody's had rated the obligations of the two banks.
The following ratings were assigned:
Bangkok Metropolitan Bank (BMB) was assigned a long-term deposit rating of Baa3, a rating of Prime-3 for short-term deposits, and a BFSR of E+. The bank's $100 MM FRN due in 1998 was assigned a rating of Baa3; BMB's $50MM subordinated FRN, due in the year 2000, was assigned a rating of Ba2.
First Bangkok City Bank (FBCB) was assigned a long-term deposit rating of Baa2, a rating of Prime-3 for short-term deposits, and a BFSR of D. Moody's also assigned Baa2 ratings to the $300MM FRCD due in the year 2000, and $250 MM FRCD issued in October, 1994 and due in the year 1999.
Moody's said that Thai banks have benefited from a generally positive operating environment for almost a decade. However, during 1995 and in the first months of 1996, the Thai economy demonstrated pockets of weaknesses, which made the outlook less positive for the medium-term. Inflation continued on an upward trajectory coupled with the widening of he current account deficit. In response to these macroeconomic trends, the Bank of Thailand (BOT) pursued a tight money policy, which hiked interest rates at December 1995, to their highest rates in many years. High domestic interest rates have pushed banks to borrow offshore to continue their vigorous loan growth and threatened to undermine the quality of their existing loan portfolios. In addition, the wide interest rate differential between domestic and foreign interest rates encouraged the inflow of short-term capital into non-resident baht accounts and into the domestic stock market.
Moody's noted that on May 30, 1996, the rating agency placed under review for possible downgrade Thailand's Prime-1 short-term sovereign ceiling for bank deposits and other short-term obligations. Moody's said that while Thailand's fundamental macroeconomic condition remains sound, the greatly increased exposure to short-dated capital has heightened the risk of a potential liquidity strain over the short-to-medium term in the event that any abrupt change in creditor sentiment results in the reversal or curtailment of such funds. The substantial build-up of foreign-currency short-term debt over recent years---primarily in the banking sector-- has increased the country's vulnerability to a financial shock through the balance of payments.
The rating agency noted that concern may be mitigated, in part, by the measures taken by the Bank of Thailand to slow down the rated or economic activity, to curtail credit loan growth and lending to non-productive sectors, and to curb the inflow of short term funds-- including banks' offshore borrowing. Nevertheless, constraints on fiscal and monetary policies may limit the capacity of the authorities in pursuing these objectives.
Moody's also said that the financial markets in Thailand are undergoing significant changes, including deregulation and increasing competition from domestic and foreign financial entities. Furthermore, profitability trends for the banking sector are likely to weaken because of narrower interest margins, higher loan loss provisions, slower loan growth, and the need to make on-going investments in technology and other productivity-enhancing measures. Moody's added that asset quality trends for the Thai banks appeared to have weakened in 1995 after being positive for the period 1991-1994.
BMB is one of the ten largest banks in Thailand with consolidated assets of approximately $ 7 billion as of December 31, 1995. Moody's said that compares to many of its peers, BMB's asset quality and operating efficiency seem quite poor. However, the bank benefits from good shareholder support, a branch network of over 100 branches, and protective regulatory environment. The bank's funding costs are high because of a low proportion of savings and checking accounts in its liability mix. The bank's financial statements have received a qualified auditor's opinion for several years. Founded in 1950, BMB benefits from its historic ties with the Sino-Thai business community, although these bonds may weaken as the relationships forged in earlier generations weaken.
FBCB is one of Thailand's ten largest banks with consolidated assets of $ 9 billion as of December 31, 1995. Founded in 1934, FBCB appears to have acceptable financial fundamentals, good shareholder support, and benefits from a protective regulatory environment.
FBCB's ratings reflect the bank's improving trends in profitability, liquidity, asset quality, and capital. Intervened by the Bank of Thailand in 1986, FBCB received a new management team, head by a former BOT senior official, Khun Manoch Kanchanachaya. Simultaneously, FBCB received a "soft loan" from the BOT. This loan was repaid ahead of schedule in 1991. The bank is currently 15% owned by the Financial Institutions Development Fund. Moody's said that while FBCB's fundamentals have improved significantly, the bank's ratings are constrained by its small branch network relative to its peers, high dividend payout ratio, and increasing reliance upon off-shore borrowings to fund its loan growth. Moody's noted that the bank has a good market share of trade finance, especially in the Sino-Thai business community. BMB is upgrading its ATM network and enhancing the quality of its technology. Nevertheless, the bank is more likely to feel competitive pressures over the medium-term than some of the larger Thai banks.
Moody's said that the two rated banks are based in Bangkok.

No Related Data.
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