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Rating Action:

MOODY'S LOWERS DEPOSIT RATINGS OF FIVE JAPANESE REGIONAL BANKS; RATING OUTLOOK OF MAJOR JAPANESE BANKS CHANGED TO NEGATIVE

21 Jan 2002
MOODY'S LOWERS DEPOSIT RATINGS OF FIVE JAPANESE REGIONAL BANKS; RATING OUTLOOK OF MAJOR JAPANESE BANKS CHANGED TO NEGATIVE

Tokyo, January 21, 2002 -- Moody's Investors Services has lowered the long and short term deposit ratings of five Japanese regional banks with E bank financial strength ratings (BFSR) to Ba1/Not Prime from Baa3/Prime 3. At the same time, Moody's downgraded the senior unsecured, as well as senior and junior subordinated obligations of those regional banks. The outlook for these ratings remains negative. Moody's has also revised the rating outlook of major banks from stable to negative.

Moody's says these rating actions and outlook change are prompted by Moody's evolving view as to the strength and stability of the Japanese systemic framework to deal with a possible stress situation in a timely manner. Moody's expects the full governmental guarantee of deposit obligations of Japanese banks to be lifted without further delay (beginning April 2002). In the rating agency's view, the withdrawal of full government guarantee may have the potential to create another de-stabilising factor in the currently fragile financial conditions of Japanese banks.

Despite the recent increasing number of regulatory-led resolution of a large number of small-sized regional financial institutions, Moody's considers the Japanese banking system to be in a grossly inadequate financial shape to meet the new challenges from a changing systemic support mechanism. In Moody's view, the Japanese banking system still has many financially very weak players (as indicated by their E and E+ bank financial strength ratings), despite the government capital injections in 1999 and major banks' recent accelerated efforts for asset quality improvement. Moody's expects that substantial support will ultimately be necessary to improve their capitalisation to satisfactory levels. The longer the resolution of the problem, the more economically insolvent the banks will become, which will raise the ultimate bailout cost to a substantial level. In Moody's view, at such time of reckoning, there is a possibility that the resolution cost could be shared with creditors, like bondholders, under a new systemic support framework.

Moody's believes that the sheer magnitude of the financial problems of Japanese banks creates increased uncertainties over the ultimate resolution mechanism and heightens the risks to bank creditors. There is still a possibility that the full government guarantee of deposits will be extended again. Also, the exceptional regulatory measures allowed under the new systemic support mechanism, including re-institutionalisation of full guarantee of deposit, special public administration of troubled banks, and additional capital injection will be retained to manage future stress situations. However, in Moody's view, Japanese banks' financial fundamentals have weakened to the point where the extension of deposit guarantee alone would not lead to substantial improvements in their future credit prospects.

The downgrades of deposit ratings of E rated regional banks reflect their extremely weak financial fundamentals and the resulting greater vulnerability to a possible negative impact from the forthcoming change in the support mechanism. The single notch downgrade for deposit rating reflects Moody's lower expectation that deposit obligations of those regional banks will continue to receive adequate levels of systemic support in a stress situation. However, their Ba1 ratings continue to reflect their importance to the local economy and financial settlement network. The downgrade of their subordinated obligations reflects the increased risk subordinated debtholders may face in the possible resolution scenario of those banks, and the reduced expectation of regulatory support for those non-depository obligations in the future.

The outlook change for the major banks reflect Moody's still higher level of expectation of regulatory support for these large and important banks. Also implicit in the outlook is the dim prospect for restoration of their stand-alone financial fundamentals in the currently stressful corporate environment, indicating the need for significant external support.

The following ratings of regional banks were downgraded:

Ashikaga Bank, Ltd.: long and short-term deposit ratings to Ba1/Non-Prime from Baa3/Prime-3, unsecured senior debt rating to Ba2 from Ba1.

Hokkaido Bank, Ltd.: long and short-term deposit ratings to Ba1/Non-Prime from Baa3/Prime-3

Kiyo Bank, Ltd.: long and short-term deposit ratings to Ba1/Non-Prime from Baa3/Prime-3

Fukuoka City Bank, Ltd.: long and short-term deposit ratings to Ba1/Non-Prime from Baa3/Prime-3

Hokuriku Bank, Ltd.: long and short-term deposit ratings to Ba1/Non-Prime from Baa3/Prime-3

Hokuriku International Cayman Limited: senior and junior subordinated debt rating to B1/B3 from Ba2/B1

The rating outlook of the following major banks has been revised to negative.

Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Limited.

Mitsubishi Trust and Banking Corporation

Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation

Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank, Ltd.

Fuji Bank, Ltd.

Industrial Bank of Japan, Ltd.

Yasuda Trust and Banking, Co., Ltd.

UFJ Bank Limited.

UFJ Trust Bank Limited.

Chuo Mitsui Trust and Banking Co., Ltd.

Tokyo
Mutsuo Suzuki
Senior Vice President
Rating Group
Moody's Japan K.K.
JOURNALISTS: (03) 5408-4110
SUBSCRIBERS: (03) 5408-4100

Tokyo
Yasunobu Doi
Analyst
Rating Group
Moody's Japan K.K.
JOURNALISTS: (03) 5408-4110
SUBSCRIBERS: (03) 5408-4100

No Related Data.
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