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Rating Action:

MOODY'S CONFIRMS WITH STABLE OUTLOOK A FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATING OF BANK NEDERLANDSE GEMEENTEN AND A- FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATING OF NEDERLANDSE WATERSCHAPSBANK; Aaa/PRIME-1 DEPOSIT RATINGS OF BOTH BANKS ARE AFFIRMED.

01 Dec 2004
MOODY'S CONFIRMS WITH STABLE OUTLOOK A FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATING OF BANK NEDERLANDSE GEMEENTEN AND A- FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATING OF NEDERLANDSE WATERSCHAPSBANK; Aaa/PRIME-1 DEPOSIT RATINGS OF BOTH BANKS ARE AFFIRMED.

London, 01 December 2004 -- Moody's Investors Service has confirmed with stable outlook the A financial strength rating (FSR) of Bank Nederlandse Gemeenten (BNG) and the A- FSR of Nederlandse Waterschapsbank (NWB). The confirmation of these ratings is based on Moody's belief that the two Dutch public sector lenders will be able to absorb the extra cost they are likely to face as a result of the introduction of a bill in the Dutch parliament that will require BNG and NWB to pay corporate taxes in the future. This event should not affect the two banks' strong franchises or strong financial fundamentals. The rating actions conclude the review for possible downgrade initiated by Moody's in April 2004 in response to the announcement that the Minister of Finance intended to put forward such a bill. The two banks' Aaa/P-1 ratings and their stable outlook remains unchanged.

BNG and NWB are specialised lenders that grant credit to Dutch municipalities, housing associations, water boards and other public sector entities. Moodys' notes that their combined market shares in most of these segments amounts to over 50%, while their lending activity to water boards gives them a market share of almost 90%. All of the public sector entities carry out important tasks for the country. As BNG and NWB are the only two banks in the Netherlands that play such a role, competition is very limited, especially as commercial banks and pension funds have been reducing their activities in these areas due to the very low margins these loans provide.

BNG and NWB are owned by a combination of the Dutch state, local governments, public sector and water boards. The banks have historically paid out almost 40% in dividends to their owners. Both banks have strong capitalisation and at the end of the year 2003 they showed a Tier 1 ratio of 25% for BNG and 86.9% for NWB. Moody's notes that the banks have not yet decided how they will mitigate the future tax burden, and adding that it will take the banks several years before they have to pay taxes on their full earnings. However, it will probably be possible for them to address this challenge by a combination of lower dividend pay-outs, and, as a last resort, an increase in lending margins. According to Moody's, none of these actions would reduce materially the banks' strong financial fundamentals or market position. Moody's also said that the two banks' financial fundamentals compare well to other similar entities and commercial banks.

Going forward, Moody's cautions that downward pressure on the banks' FSRs could be generated by an increase in cost their cost structure or a change in the banks' hitherto prudent risk profile in relation to asset liability management.

Moody's affirmation of the two banks' deposit ratings at Aaa/Prime-1 reflects the important function they perform within the Dutch economy in funding municipalities and water boards. The rating agency added that the Dutch government will continue to have a strong interest in ensuring that these banks are able to perform this function efficiently.

The following ratings were confirmed:

- The A financial strengths rating for Bank Nederlandse Gemeentent (BNG).

- The A-financial strength rating of Nederlandse Waterschapsbank (NWB).

Bank Nederlandse Gemeentent (BNG) and Nederlandse Waterschapsbank (NWB) are based in The Hague in the Netherlands. At the end of first half 2004, BNG had assets of €85.5 billion and NWB had assets of €26.9 billion.

end

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
Janne Thomsen
Senior Vice President
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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