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Rating Action:

MOODY'S PLACES UNDER REVIEW FOR POSSIBLE DOWNGRADE THE Aa3/B LONG-TERM DEPOSIT AND FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATINGS OF BANQUES POPULAIRES GROUP AND PLACES UNDER REVIEW FOR POSSIBLE UPGRADE THE A2 LONG-TERM DEPOSIT RATING OF NATEXIS BANQUE FOLLOWING THE ANNOUNCE

26 Mar 1998
MOODY'S PLACES UNDER REVIEW FOR POSSIBLE DOWNGRADE THE Aa3/B LONG-TERM DEPOSIT AND FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATINGS OF BANQUES POPULAIRES GROUP AND PLACES UNDER REVIEW FOR POSSIBLE UPGRADE THE A2 LONG-TERM DEPOSIT RATING OF NATEXIS BANQUE FOLLOWING THE ANNOUNCE Paris, 03-26-98 -- Moody's placed under review for possible downgrade the ratings of Banques Populaires group for long-term deposit and debt (senior at Aa3) and the B bank financial strength rating. At the same time, Moody's has placed under review for possible upgrade the ratings of Natexis Banque for long-term deposit and debt (senior at A2). Banques Populaires group's and Natexis Banque's short-term deposit ratings were confirmed at Prime-1. Natexis Banque's D+ Bank Financial Strength Rating was also confirmed. According to Moody's, these rating actions follow the announcement yesterday of Banques Populaires group's friendly tender offer on Natexis S.A., the holding company of the Natexis group, with a view to acquire at least 51%. Since October 1997, Banques Populaires group owns 24.9% of Natexis SA, the holding company of Natexis Banque.

In placing the ratings of Caisse Centrale des Banques Populaires and the 13 regional banks under review for possible downgrade, Moody's commented that the cost of purchasing a controlling stake in Natexis S.A. would further dilute the group's capitalization. Furthermore, the fact that Banques Populaires will bear a larger portion of Natexis's group share net income would negatively impact Banques Populaires group's own financial profile considering that Natexis's current profitability remains weak. This acquisition would also raise Banques Populaires group's risk profile. However, Moody's noted that the proposed operation will facilitate the ongoing integration of the two banking groups and the realization of the expected synergies.

Conversely, the prospect of Banques Populaires group raising the level of its shareholding in Natexis may further strengthen that group's ownership structure and creditworthiness, and have positive implications in terms of both liquidity and earnings power.

The review will focus on (i) the impact of the operation on the financial structure of the Banques Populaires group, notably its level of recurrent profitability and capital, (ii) the ensuing reorganization of the combined Banques Populaires-Natexis, and (iii) opportunities for meaningful synergies and economies of scale, if any.


The following ratings were placed under review for possible downgrade:
Caisse Centrale des Banques Populaires -- senior long-term obligations at Aa3, subordinated debts at A1 and bank financial strength rating at B.
Bred Banque Populaire – long-term debt and deposit at Aa3 and financial strength rating at D+.
Banque Mon‚taire et FinanciŠre – long-term debt and deposit at Aa3.
Banque Populaire Industrielle, Sud de Paris – long-term deposit rating at Aa3.
Banque Populaire de la R‚gion Economique de Strasbourg – long-term deposit rating at Aa3.
Banque Populaire Bretagne Atlantique – long-term deposit rating at Aa3.
Banque Populaire Toulouse-Pyr‚n‚es – long-term deposit rating at Aa3.
Banque Populaire de Franche-Comt‚ – long-term deposit rating at Aa3.
Banque Populaire du Haut Rhin – long-term deposit rating at Aa3.
Banque Populaire de Lorraine – long-term deposit rating at Aa3.
Banque Populaire de l'Ouest – long-term deposit rating at Aa3.
Banque Populaire de la R‚gion Sud de Paris – long-term deposit rating at Aa3.
Banque Populaire du Nord – long-term deposit rating at Aa3.
Casden - Banque Populaire – long-term deposit rating at Aa3.

The following ratings were placed under review for possible upgrade:
Natexis Banque S.A. – long-term deposit and debt rating at A2, subordinated debt rating at A3, junior subordinated debt rating at Baa1 and the counterparty rating at A2.
Natexis S.A. – long-term debt rating guaranteed by Natexis Banque S.A. at A2, subordinated debt rating guaranteed by Natexis Banque S.A. at A3, junior subordinated debt rating guaranteed by Natexis Banque S.A. at Baa1 and the counterparty rating at A2.
Interfinance Natexis N.V. (formerly Interfinance Cr‚dit National N.V.) – the long-term debt rating guaranteed by Natexis S.A. and Natexis Banque S.A. at A2.

The following ratings were confirmed:
Caisse Centrale des Banques Populaires – short-term deposit rating at Prime-1.
CCBP International Inc. – commercial paper at Prime-1.
Bred Banque Populaire – short-term deposit rating at Prime-1.
Banque Mon‚taire et FinanciŠre – short-term deposit rating at Prime-1.
Banque Populaire Industrielle, Sud de Paris – short-term deposit rating at Prime-1.
Casden - Banque Populaire – short-term deposit rating at Prime-1.
Natexis Banque S.A. – bank financial strength rating at D+ and short-term deposit rating at Prime-1.
Interfinance Natexis N.V. (formerly Interfinance Cr‚dit National N.V.) – commercial paper jointly guaranteed by Natexis S.A. and Natexis Banque S.A. at Prime-1.
BFCE US Corp. – commercial paper guaranteed by Natexis Banque S.A. at Prime-1.

Banques Populaires group is a mutual banking institution, whose funding vehicle, Caisse Centrale des Banques Populaires, is based in Paris. The group had consolidated assets at yearend 1996 FRF605 billion (US$100 billion). The Natexis group, headquartered in Paris, had consolidated assets of FRF299 billion (approximately US$50 billion) at yearend 1997.

No Related Data.
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