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Rating Action:

MOODY'S CHANGES FROM STABLE TO POSITIVE THE FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATING OUTLOOKS OF THREE POLISH BANKS: BPH (A3/P-2/D+), BANK HANDLOWY W WARSZAWIE (A2/P-1/D+) AND ING BANK SLASKI (A2/P-1/D)

21 Oct 2004
MOODY'S CHANGES FROM STABLE TO POSITIVE THE FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATING OUTLOOKS OF THREE POLISH BANKS: BPH (A3/P-2/D+), BANK HANDLOWY W WARSZAWIE (A2/P-1/D+) AND ING BANK SLASKI (A2/P-1/D)

London, 21 October 2004 -- Moody's changed from stable to positive the financial strength rating (FSR) outlooks of three Polish banks: Bank BPH (A3/P-2/D+), Bank Handlowy w Warszawie (A2/P-1/D+), and ING Bank Slaski (A2/P-1/D). This rating action reflects the positive changes evidenced in these institutions' financial fundamentals owing to their ongoing restructuring, to their focused growth strategies particularly in retail banking, and to gradually improving economic conditions in Poland.

72.21% owned by Bank Austria Creditanstalt (A2/P-1/B-), Bank BPH is the third largest bank in Poland. The bank's D+ FSR with a positive outlook reflects its strong franchise and market positions in retail including residential mortgage lending as well as in corporate and investment banking, its wide distribution outreach, its focused initiatives to strengthen its business lines and its successful restructuring. The positive outlook assigned to the bank's FSR also reflects its improving recurring earnings generation in 2004, the continued reduction of costs in spite of ongoing investments aimed at improving efficiency and distribution, as well as tightened risk management. On the other hand, Moody's noted that the bank's margins are under some pressure, its revenue base is vulnerable to more volatile market related income, non-performing assets are still high, even if reducing, and ongoing rapid expansion could cause asset quality and operational risk concerns in the future. Continued evidence of recurring revenue growth, asset quality improvements and the successful implementation of the bank's strategy should have positive rating implications for the bank, added Moody's.

89.33% owned by Citigroup (Aa1/P-1), Bank Handlowy w Warszawie is the fourth largest bank in Poland. The bank's D+ FSR with a positive outlook factors in the benefits of a high degree of integration within Citigroup and leading market positions in credit cards and in corporate and investment banking, with a demonstrated know-how in the capital markets and cash management areas. Moody's noted that Bank Handlowy should benefit, in particular, from the know-how of its parent as it enters the competitive mass consumer banking market, where it aims to become one of the leading institutions through Citifinancial. The bank's recurring income generation improved in 2004, supported by the bank's strong sales focus, in spite of contracting lending activity in the corporate sector. That said, Bank Handlowy remains dependent on more volatile markets related income, costs will continue to weigh on the bank's results in the short-to medium-term as it continues to restructure and to build-up its retail operations, and the bank's level of irregular loans remains very high compared with peers. Moody's said that achieving a higher FSR will be dependent in particular on continued recurring earnings growth, on actions taken by the bank to reduce its non-performing corporate loans and on progress made in the implementation of Bank Handlowy's strategy.

87.77% owned by ING Bank NV (Aa2/P-1/B+), ING Bank Slaski is the sixth largest bank in Poland. The bank's D FSR rating with a positive outlook reflects its established franchise in corporate banking, its more modest but developing retail banking franchise and the positive impact of restructuring initiatives in recent years, particularly in the credit area. H1-2004 results notably indicate a significant improvement in asset quality and a continued focus on risk-weighted profitability. That said, irregular loan levels remain relatively high. There is also scope for the bank to operate more efficiently. In addition, recurring earnings growth is hindered by the contraction of the bank's net loan portfolio and by fee and commission income growth that remains lower than that experienced by a number of peers. ING Bank Slaski will be challenged to strengthen its franchise and to grow its retail and corporate business lines in an increasingly competitive market. Moody's stated that future FSR improvements will be predicated, in particular, by evidence that ING Bank Slaski can resume sound lending activities, generate growing recurring earnings and strengthen its franchise.

Headquartered in Cracow, Bank BPH posted audited (PAS) consolidated assets of PLN 48.4 bn (EUR 10.3 bn) and net profit of PLN 323.1 mn (EUR 72.7 mn) at end-2003. At H1-2004, consolidated profits more than doubled vs. H1-2003 to PLN 424 mn (EUR 89.6 mn) and the banking group's total capital adequacy ratio stood at 14.7%.

Headquartered in Warsaw, Bank Handlowy w Warszawie posted audited (PAS) consolidated assets of PLN 33.3 bn (EUR 7.1 bn) and net profit of PLN 250.6 mn (EUR 53.2 mn) at end-2003. At H1-2004, consolidated net profit rose by 133% to PLN 224.8 mn (EUR 47.5 mn) and the banking group's total capital adequacy ratio stood at 18.2%.

Headquartered in Katowice, ING Bank Slaski posted audited (PAS) consolidated assets of PLN 28.2 bn (EUR 6 bn) and net profit of PLN 28.7 mn (EUR 6.1 mn) at end-2003. At H1-2004, consolidated net profit rose to PLN 144 mn (EUR 30.4 mn) from PLN 13.4 mn (EUR 3.1 mn) at H1-2003 and the banking group's total capital adequacy ratio stood at 14.98%.

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

London
Patricia Dambrine
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

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