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Rating Action:

MOODY'S CONFIRMS CREDIT RATINGS OF CREDIT LYONNAIS AND ITS GUARANTEED SUBSIDIARIES ( SENIOR AT A3) AND LOWERS THE BANK FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATING TO E+

14 Oct 1996
MOODY'S CONFIRMS CREDIT RATINGS OF CREDIT LYONNAIS AND ITS GUARANTEED SUBSIDIARIES ( SENIOR AT A3) AND LOWERS THE BANK FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATING TO E+ London, 10/14/1996 -- Moody's Investors Service confirmed the credit ratings of Cr‚dit Lyonnais SA and lowered the bank financial strength rating to E+. The rating action follows the statement issued on September 25, 1996 by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the release by the bank of its results for the first half of 1996.
The French government has announced its decision to neutralize the net funding cost incurred in 1995 and 1996 by Credit Lyonnais on the FF 135 billion loan made to Etablissement Public de Financement et de Restructuration --EPFR--, a state-owned special entity established in 1995 as part of the state-backed rescue package for Cr‚dit Lyonnais. This measure has been approved by the European Commission. The MoF also indicated that the impact of this loan on future years' net interest margin would also be neutralized and that various measures were being currently considered by the State and the bank. Simultaneously, the MoF also announced its intention to accelerate privatization of Cr‚dit Lyonnais.
Moody's noted that this decision, the impact of which is recognized in the first-half results, will significantly improve the net interest margin of the bank in 1996 and future years and strengthen its recurring earning power. This favorable impact is however mitigated, to a large extent, by the payments to be made to the French state under a participating clause established in the last rescue plan-- 34% of the group's net profit plus 26% of the fraction in excess of 4% of the group's equity.
Despite this positive development, Moody's decision to lower the bank financial strength rating to E+ reflects its concern about the weak intrinsic financial strength of the bank and the prospective need for further support from its shareholder, the French State, in particular to cover expenses associated with the bank's restructuring and to offset the impact on the group's equity of disvestments that may be imposed to the bank. Although operating results improved during the first-half of 1996, Cr‚dit Lyonnais' capital generation remains constrained by the participating clause and the low profitability of its domestic and European commercial banking activities, the result of depressed revenues and high operating costs. At June 30, 1996 the group's Tier 1 solvency ratio was 4.5%. While the group has set a FF 1.53 billion provision to cover restructuring expenses, the rating agency also expects this process to consume further capital over the coming years.
Finally, Moody's believes that, despite the pledge of the French MoF to accelerate the privatization process, the present financial condition of the bank will prevent a change in ownership in the shorter-term. The EC's approval of the previous plan was based in part on the expectation that the French state will endeavor to privatize the bank within the next five years. Accordingly, the ratings continue to reflect Credit Lyonnais' status as a state-owned institution and would be affected by any change in the status.
The ratings confirmed are the following:
Credit Lyonnais, S.A. and its New York branch. -- the A3 rating of the banking group for long-term certificates of deposit, as well as its Prime-2 rating for short-term certificates of deposit; the counterparty rating at A3; senior debt rating at A3; senior (dated) subordinated debt at Baa1; and the junior (undated) subordinated debt at Baa2.
Credit Lyonnais Australia Ltd -- senior debt at A3 (based on the guarantee of its parent Credit Lyonnais, S.A.) and its Prime-2 rating for short-term deposits and for commercial paper (guaranteed by Credit Lyonnais, S.A.).
Credit Lyonnais Canada -- senior subordinated debt at Baa1 (based on the guarantee of its parent Credit Lyonnais, S.A.) and its Prime-2 rating for commercial paper (guaranteed by Credit Lyonnais, S.A.).
Credit Lyonnais North America, Inc. -- Prime-2 rating for its commercial paper (guaranteed by Credit Lyonnais, S.A.).
Credit Lyonnais Capital, S.C.A. -- non-cumulative preference shares at "baa3" (guaranteed by Credit Lyonnais, S.A.).
Altus Finance -- senior debt at A3 (based on the guarantee of its parent Credit Lyonnais, S.A.) and its Prime-2 rating for commercial paper (guaranteed by Credit Lyonnais, S.A.).
Credit Lyonnais has its headquarters in Paris France. Its principal shareholder is the French State. As of December 31, 1995, its consolidated assets amounted to FF 1.66 trillion (approximately US$ 322 billion).
No Related Data.
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