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Rating Action:

MOODY'S SAYS RATINGS FOR GERMAN LANDESBANKEN ARE NOT AFFECTED BY E.U. COURT'S STATEMENT REGARDING STATE AID GRANTED TO WESTLB AG

17 Dec 2002
MOODY'S SAYS RATINGS FOR GERMAN LANDESBANKEN ARE NOT AFFECTED BY E.U. COURT'S STATEMENT REGARDING STATE AID GRANTED TO WESTLB AG Moody's Investors Service says that neither the ratings of WestLB nor those of any other Landesbank will be affected by the European Court of Justice's assertion on 12 December that the German government has failed to properly implement the EU Commission's decision in 1999, which requires the recovery of state aid granted to WestLB AG (rated Aa1/P-1/D).

Moody's statement also applies to the other German Landesbanken which the EU Commission recently started investigating - namely, Hamburgische Landesbank (Aa1/P-1/C+), Landesbank Schleswig-Holstein (Aa1/P-1/C+), Landesbank Hessen-Thueringen (Aaa/P-1/C), Bayerische Landesbank (Aaa/P-1/D+), as well as Norddeutsche Landesbank (Aa1/P-1/C-).

The recent statement by the European Court of Justice had indicated that, in instances in which the Commission finds state aid to be incompatible with the laws of the European Union, the Court may not only require the State to withdraw or amend the aid but also demand the recovery of past benefits at the same time. In the case of WestLB, the Commission challenged the insufficiency of the remuneration received by the Land of North Rhine-Westphalia (the state of NRW) from WestLB for the transfer of WfA (Wohnungsbaufoerderungsanstalt des Landes NRW - i.e. the state of NRW's public funding body for the construction of housing). For the period 1992-1998, this had amounted to some EUR807 million. The Court has upheld the Commission's declaration that the measures taken by Germany to comply with community law have not been sufficient.

Moody's notes that the European court also stated that, if a Member State decided to recover state aid by means other than cash payment, it must provide evidence to enable the Commission to establish that such alternative measures are suitable to achieve the result required.

Moody's does not rule out a scenario in which WestLB could be forced to make substantial payments to NRW in order to comply with the EU Commission ruling. However, the rating agency is also aware that in a second, still pending court case, WestLB, the state of NRW and the Federal Republic of Germany are challenging the EU Commission's actions against WestLB over the transfer of WfA and its calculation of the "correct" remuneration for WestLB's regulatory capital benefit. Moody's notes that the outcome of this case could have a significant impact on any payments that may have to be made by WestLB.

Nevertheless, Moody's says that, even in a "worst-case" scenario for WestLB, the potential negative impact of these payments will not affect WestLB's Aa1 debt and deposit ratings, which are based on the support mechanism of Gewaehrtraegerhaftung (statutory guarantee) for WestLB's liabilities, in conjunction with NRW's strong implicit support. In this context, Moody's points out that the implicit support by WestLB's ultimate shareholders and guarantors was recently reinforced by the decision of the supervisory board and shareholders of WestLB to increase WestLB's capital by EUR1.25 billion at the end of 2002.

However, according to Moody's, WestLB's D financial strength rating (FSR) reflects, among other factors, the bank's modest regulatory and economic capitalisation, which may weaken if these potential retrospective payments have to be paid. In order to offset this, Moody's believes that the state of NRW will have to take steps to balance these payments so that WestLB's capitalisation will not be materially negatively affected.

Similarly, the other Landesbanken, which face similar investigations by the EU Commission, also benefit from capital injections in kind through the transfer of public housing funding entities in the 1990s by their respective states. Moody's says that, at this point in time, it will not take any rating actions with regard to the rating outlooks of the banks' FSRs. The rating agency added that the investigations are still in their initial stages and differ from each other in some aspects - for example, the amount of capital benefit varies widely, so that the ultimate payment, which is being requested by the EU Commission to ensure compliance, is still uncertain as of today.
No Related Data.
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CREDIT RATINGS ISSUED BY MOODY'S INVESTORS SERVICE, INC. AND/OR ITS CREDIT RATINGS AFFILIATES ARE MOODY'S CURRENT OPINIONS OF THE RELATIVE FUTURE CREDIT RISK OF ENTITIES, CREDIT COMMITMENTS, OR DEBT OR DEBT-LIKE SECURITIES, AND MATERIALS, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND INFORMATION PUBLISHED BY MOODY'S (COLLECTIVELY, "PUBLICATIONS") MAY INCLUDE SUCH  CURRENT OPINIONS. MOODY'S INVESTORS SERVICE DEFINES CREDIT RISK AS THE RISK THAT AN ENTITY MAY NOT MEET ITS CONTRACTUAL FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS AS THEY COME DUE AND ANY ESTIMATED FINANCIAL LOSS IN THE EVENT OF DEFAULT OR IMPAIRMENT. SEE MOODY'S RATING SYMBOLS AND DEFINITIONS PUBLICATION FOR INFORMATION ON THE TYPES OF CONTRACTUAL FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS ADDRESSED BY MOODY'S INVESTORS SERVICE CREDIT RATINGS. CREDIT RATINGS DO NOT ADDRESS ANY OTHER RISK, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: LIQUIDITY RISK, MARKET VALUE RISK, OR PRICE VOLATILITY. CREDIT RATINGS, NON-CREDIT ASSESSMENTS ("ASSESSMENTS"), AND  OTHER OPINIONS INCLUDED IN MOODY'S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT STATEMENTS OF CURRENT OR HISTORICAL FACT. MOODY'S PUBLICATIONS MAY ALSO INCLUDE QUANTITATIVE MODEL-BASED ESTIMATES OF CREDIT RISK AND RELATED OPINIONS OR COMMENTARY PUBLISHED BY MOODY'S ANALYTICS, INC. AND/OR ITS AFFILIATES. MOODY'S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS AND PUBLICATIONS DO NOT CONSTITUTE OR PROVIDE INVESTMENT OR FINANCIAL ADVICE, AND MOODY'S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS AND  PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT AND DO NOT PROVIDE RECOMMENDATIONS TO PURCHASE, SELL, OR HOLD PARTICULAR SECURITIES. MOODY'S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS AND  PUBLICATIONS DO NOT COMMENT ON THE SUITABILITY OF AN INVESTMENT FOR ANY PARTICULAR INVESTOR. MOODY'S ISSUES ITS CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS AND OTHER OPINIONS AND PUBLISHES  ITS PUBLICATIONS WITH THE EXPECTATION AND UNDERSTANDING THAT EACH INVESTOR WILL, WITH DUE CARE, MAKE ITS OWN STUDY AND EVALUATION OF EACH SECURITY THAT IS UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR PURCHASE, HOLDING, OR SALE.

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MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) hereby disclose that most issuers of debt securities (including corporate and municipal bonds, debentures, notes and commercial paper) and preferred stock rated by MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) have, prior to assignment of any credit rating, agreed to pay to MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) for credit ratings opinions and services rendered by it fees ranging from JPY125,000 to approximately JPY250,000,000.

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