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Rating Action:

MOODY'S REVIEWS FOR POSSIBLE UPGRADE SOCIETE GENERALE'S Aa3/B LONG-TERM AND FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATINGS

03 Aug 2004
MOODY'S REVIEWS FOR POSSIBLE UPGRADE SOCIETE GENERALE'S Aa3/B LONG-TERM AND FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATINGS

London, 03 August 2004 -- Moody's Investors Service placed under review for possible upgrade the Aa3 long-term deposit and debt ratings and B financial strength rating of Societe Generale. According to Moody's, the rating review underscores the progress made by the French banking group with respect to operating efficiency and risk calibration, two areas where it had been somewhat lagging peers in the past. Moody's commented that these positive developments bolster a creditworthiness already characterized by substantial franchise strength, growing business diversity and solid revenue generation.

The Societe Generale group's various businesses have performed well in spite of a difficult operating environment until the middle of last year. This year, despite a less favorable interest rate environment since April, the group continues to deliver sustained performance. Moody's considers that the group benefits from solid client positions with target customers across its core markets. In particular, its position as one of the leading and well-performing universal banks in France remains a strong rating driver. Societe Generale enjoys good growth prospects across most of its operations, in particular in retail banking outside France and in specialized financial services.

Directly related to the rating review, Moody's noted the significant progress in operating efficiency due to a steady downtrend in operating expenses which is now accelerating. The rating review will examine Societe Generale's plans to further raise operating efficiency, in particular from extracting the revenue benefits and cost synergies targeted by its more recent acquisitions. Moody's notably views opportunities for the group to extract cost benefits from (i) the ongoing restructuring of its French branch networks, (ii) continuing to integrate banking operations outside France, and (iii) further improvement in the processing activities for specialized finance and custody and asset administration.

The rating agency added that it views positively the group's overall lower risk profile and greater client and product focus in wholesale banking. Societe Generale's risk management has improved significantly during the last years, and is now comprehensive and forward-looking. Crucially, the bank's risk philosophy has evolved as well, underpinning also the strategic shift favoring retail financial services and wealth management. Worth mentioning is also the steady reallocation of capital away from the comparatively more volatile and capital-intensive corporate and investment bank. In that context, Moody's review will address any remaining areas of risk concentrations at Societe Generale, whether single name or sector-related as well as regarding the wind-down of the industrial and private equity portfolios.

The following ratings were placed under review:

• Societe Generale: long-term bank deposit and senior debt ratings at Aa3, subordinated debt ratings at A1 and Financial Strength Rating at B;

• Societe Generale, Australia Branch: long-term senior debt ratings at Aa3 and subordinated debt ratings at A1;

• Societe Generale, New York Branch: long-term subordinated debt ratings at A1;

• BAREP: long-term bank deposit and issuer ratings at A1;

• SG Structured Products, Inc: backed long-term senior debt ratings at Aa3;

• SG Option Europe: backed long-term debt senior ratings at Aa3;

• SGA Societe Generale Acceptance N.V.: backed long-term debt ratings at Aa3 and subordinated debt ratings at A1;

• SG Australia Limited: long-term senior debt ratings at Aa3 and subordinated debt ratings at A1;

• SocGen Real Estate Company LLC: preferred stock rating at A2;

• SG Capital Trust I: preferred stock rating at A2;

• SG II Preferred Securities Investors Trust: preferred stock rating at A2

• SG Preferred Capital II: preferred stock rating at A2; and

• SG Capital Trust III: preferred stock rating at A2.

The Societe Generale group has its headquarters in Paris, France. At end-June 2004, the group posted consolidated assets of €602 billion.

London
Alexandra A. Sleator
Senior Vice President
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

London
Samuel S. Theodore
Managing Director
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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