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Rating Action:

MOODY'S CHANGES OUTLOOK OF ABN AMRO'S BANK FSR TO NEGATIVE FROM STABLE; AFFIRMS DEPOSIT AND SENIOR DEBT RATINGS

06 Oct 2005
MOODY'S CHANGES OUTLOOK OF ABN AMRO'S BANK FSR TO NEGATIVE FROM STABLE; AFFIRMS DEPOSIT AND SENIOR DEBT RATINGS

A3/P-2 ratings of Antonveneta placed on review for possible upgrade; C FSR affirmed with stable outlook;Baa1 LT deposit rating of Interbanca SpA also on review for possible upgrade; P-2 rating and C- FSR are affirmed with stable outlooks

London, 06 October 2005 -- Moody's Investors Service today changed to negative from stable the outlook on ABN AMRO's B bank financial strength rating (FSR), and has affirmed the bank's Aa3/Prime-1 long- and short-term deposit and senior debt ratings, all with a stable outlook. At the same time, Moody's has placed on review for possible upgrade the A3/Prime-2 long- and short-term deposit and debt ratings of ABN AMRO's takeover target, Banca Antoniana Popolare Veneta (Antonveneta), and affirmed with a stable outlook the C FSR. Moody's also placed on review for possible upgrade the Baa1 long-term deposit rating of Interbanca, SpA, the medium- and long-term lending and investment banking subsidiary of Antonveneta, and affirmed with a stable outlook the bank's Prime-2 short-term rating and its C- FSR.

Moody's said that the rating actions follow ABN AMRO's announcement on 26 September 2005 that it has signed an agreement to purchase a 39.37% stake in Antonveneta. This participation, combined with its previous ownership of 29.91%, will give the Dutch bank a controlling share in Antonveneta. The transaction is subject to various conditions precedent, including the release of the target bank's shares currently owned by Banca Popolare Italiana (Baa1/P-2/D+, all under review for possible downgrade), which have been impounded by an Italian Tribunal, as well as by regulatory authorities under the publicly disclosed financial terms and conditions. If successful, ABN AMRO expects the transaction to close by the end of 2005.

Moody's noted that in April 2005, at the time of the announcement of the possible acquisition, it had commented on these potential rating impacts. However, the rating agency had taken no rating actions at that time, given the considerable uncertainty regarding the outcome of the transaction.

In affirming ABN AMRO's debt and deposit ratings, Moody's said that the acquisition, which is valued at EUR 5.7 billion is financed with a combination of equity -- primarily via a EUR2.5 billion share issue, debt and cash, presents limited downside risk for ABN AMRO, as Antonveneta, which is Italy's seventh-largest bank, is relatively small in terms of total assets (EUR43 billion for Antonveneta, versus EUR856 billion for ABN AMRO as at 30 June 2005). The rating affirmation is supported by (i) ABN AMRO's well diversified business franchise with a stable position in the Netherlands, (ii) a profitable and coherent retail banking franchise in the US (iii) and its solid franchise in Brazil. Moody's added that the proposed acquisition of Antonveneta should lead to better revenue diversification for ABN AMRO in the future, with the contribution to revenues of the Consumer & Commercial Clients business unit increasing to 60% for the enlarged group from the current 56%, while also leading to a better geographical diversification of this business line. The rating affirmation also takes into account the systemic importance of ABN AMRO to the Dutch economy and banking system.

In changing the outlook of ABN AMRO's B FSR to negative from stable , Moody's said that the rating action stems from the adverse impact on the enlarged group's core Tier-1 level that could place ABN AMRO in a marginally weakened position with respect to unexpected negative risk events until higher capital levels are restored. In this regard, Moody's noted the challenges the new group will face to quickly restore pre-acquisition levels given Antonveneta's still modest financial fundamentals, as reflected in its C FSR. In addition, Moody's notes the strategic challenges that ABN AMRO will face in completing the restructuring and re-launching of Antonveneta's retail franchise which, in the current Italian operating environment of modest economic growth, may take some time to materialise. This is particularly the case given the need to complete the integration of Antonveneta, which achieved its current structure through the acquisition of weaker banks over the last decade, and the need to maximise the relative synergies.

Moody's added that should the acquisition of Antonveneta not be completed, the outlook of ABN AMRO's BFSR could potentially be changed back to stable.

In commenting on the reviews for possible upgrade of Antonveneta's long and short-term ratings and of Interbanca's long-term ratings, Moody's said that these reflect the expectation of support from ABN AMRO in the event of the acquisition going ahead. The rating agency added that the review process will focus in particular on the strategic integration of the bank and its subsidiary within the Dutch group. With regard to the affirmation of Antonveneta's C FSR and of Interbanca's C- FSR, Moody's said that this reflects its view that the likely impact of ABN AMRO's ownership on the respective standalone credit strengths will not be clear for some time, while this also already incorporates the expectation of improvements.

The A3/P-2/C ratings of Antonveneta reflect (i) the bank's strong local franchise in some of the wealthiest provinces in Italy, (ii) its recently acquired status as one of the top 10 Italian banks with a nationwide presence and a 3% market share, and (iii) its good product range, which provides it with the potential to compete effectively in the increasingly consolidated Italian banking market. Additionally, the ratings incorporate the bank's challenging tasks of rationalisation and improvement of its financials, which -- as a result of its several acquisitions -- are still relatively modest, despite recent improvements.

In recent years, the bank has expanded rapidly, mainly through acquisitions. Since the mid-1990s, its size has more than quadrupled in terms of consolidated total assets, and management's recent strategy is to consolidate the bank's position. The acquisitions have also strengthened the product offering, and Antonveneta currently provides a wide range of services, including investment banking through 99.9% owned Interbanca.

The Baa1/Prime-2 long- and short-term deposit ratings and the C- FSR of Interbanca S.p.A. reflect the Milan-based bank's good position as a niche player serving the Italian corporate segment and complementing its traditional medium-term lending capability with its developing role as an investment bank, together with its satisfactory financial fundamentals. The ratings also take into account Interbanca's limitations resulting from its smaller size and capital levels, and the competitive pressures in its longer term lending business, against the background of a still sluggish economic environment. Its merchant banking activities -- while potentially offering substantial rewards -- add more volatility to the earnings. The high concentration of its assets suggests a higher risk profile, but this is expected to fall in line with new group guidelines.

The following ratings were affirmed with a stable outlook:

- ABN AMRO Bank NV -- Aa3 long-term deposit rating; Aa3 senior debt rating; Prime-1 short-term debt and deposit ratings,

- Banca Antoniana Popolare Veneta S.p.A. (Antonveneta) -- C FSR,

- Interbanca S.p.A. -- Prime-2 short-term senior debt and deposit ratings; C- FSR.

The following ratings were placed on review for possible upgrade:

- Banca Antoniana Popolare Veneta S.p.A. (Antonveneta) -- A3 long-term deposit and senior debt ratings; Prime-2 deposit and short-term debt ratings,

- Interbanca S.p.A. -- Baa1 long-term senior debt and deposit ratings.

The outlook for the following rating was changed to negative from stable:

ABN AMRO Bank NV- B FSR.

- Headquartered in Amsterdam, Netherlands, ABN AMRO had assets of EUR856 billion as at 30 June 2005.

- Headquartered in Padua, Italy, Antonveneta had total assets of EUR43 billion as at 30 June 2005.

- Headquartered in Milan, Italy, Interbanca had total assets of EUR8.5 billion as at 30 June 2005.

London
Lynn Exton
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

London
Paola Marchesini
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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