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Rating Action:

MOODY'S UPGRADES RATINGS OF MAJOR KOREAN BANKS

23 Jul 2000
MOODY'S UPGRADES RATINGS OF MAJOR KOREAN BANKS

Eight Banks Affected

New York, July 23, 2000 -- Moody's Investors Service upgraded the ratings of Kookmin Bank, H&CB, Shinhan Bank, Hanvit Bank, Korea Exchange Bank, Cho Hung Bank, KorAm Bank and Korea First Bank. The long-term senior debt and deposit ratings of Kookmin Bank, H&CB and Shinhan Bank were raised to Baa3 from Ba1. The bank financial strength rating of Shinhan Bank was also raised, to D from E+. The rating outlooks for these banks are now stable. The long-term senior debt and deposit ratings of Hanvit Bank, Korea Exchange Bank (KEB), and Cho Hung Bank (CHB) were raised to Ba1 from Ba2, as well as the deposit rating of KorAm Bank to Ba2 from Ba3. The rating outlooks for these banks remain positive. The bank financial strength rating of Korea First Bank was raised to E+ from E and was placed under review for possible further upgrade along with the other long-term ratings of the bank: Ba3 long-term senior debt and deposits, and B2 subordinated debt. The Not Prime rating for the bank's short-term obligations was not affected.

Moody's revised the rating outlooks for SeoulBank, Daegu Bank and Pusan Bank, to positive from stable. Moody's maintains a positive outlook for the ratings of Hana Bank; the outlooks for the ratings of Korea Development Bank, Korea Export-Import Bank, and the Industrial Bank of Korea remain stable.

Moody's said that the ratings upgrades of Kookmin, H&CB and Shinhan reflect the continued strengthening of their competitive positions and franchises, as well as their significant size and importance to the Korean financial system. Hanvit, KEB and CHB's ratings upgrades reflect anticipated strong government support for these large institutions as well as their efforts to improve their internal organizational structures and credit processes. The positive outlook was assigned in anticipation of a possible combination of these institutions that is being considered by the Korean authorities.

According to the rating agency, the upgrade of KorAm Bank results from the diminishing risks and uncertainties associated with the bank's ownership, as well as its above-industry average financial condition and continuing internal restructuring programs. The bank financial strength rating upgrade of Korea First Bank indicates the asset quality and capital improvements that the bank has gained from its acquisition by United States-based Newbridge Capital. The continuing review is in anticipation of the bank's exercise of its put-back option of a substantial amount of impaired assets to an agency of the Korean government.

Moody's said that the reform of the Korean banking system continues to progress, as a result of government pressure and the desire by banking institutions to improve their long-term competitiveness. Meanwhile, a more favorable general economic environment, large capital injections (mostly by the Korean government) into the banks, improved corporate governance and transparency, and increased foreign participation in many Korean banks, have all contributed to the enhanced stability of the Korean banking system, especially for the healthiest and largest institutions. A further critical factor in the improved creditworthiness of the Korean banks has been the Korean government's greater capacity to extend support, and its demonstrated commitment to the evolution of a healthier banking system.

These factors notwithstanding, Moody's notes that Korean banks remain financially weak and inadequately capitalized. They are also exposed to developments in Korea's non-bank financial and industrial sectors, reform of which appears to have lagged behind that of the banking sector. Looking ahead, the Korean banks' challenges include the adoption of a more commercial culture and the recruitment of appropriate personnel for future growth. While progress will inevitably take time, an institutional framework is being established in Korea's banks that should help facilitate this transition.

The following ratings were affected:

Kookmin Bank - the rating of the bank for its long-term deposits was raised to Baa3 from Ba1, the long-term debt ratings to Baa3 from Ba1 (senior) and to Ba1 from Ba3 (subordinated), and the short-term rating to P-3 from Not Prime. The bank financial strength rating remains unchanged at D. The outlook for the ratings is stable.

H&CB - the rating of the bank for its long-term deposits was raised to Baa3 from Ba1, the long-term debt ratings to Baa3 from Ba1 (senior) and to Ba1 from Ba3 (subordinated), and the short-term rating to P-3 from Not Prime. The bank financial strength rating remains unchanged at D. The outlook for the ratings is stable.

Shinhan Bank - the rating of the bank for its long-term deposits was raised to Baa3 from Ba1, the long-term debt ratings to Baa3 from Ba1 (senior) and to Ba1 from Ba3 (subordinated), and the short-term rating to P-3 from Not Prime. The bank financial strength rating was raised to D from E+. The outlook for the ratings is stable.

Hanvit Bank - the rating of the bank for its long-term deposits was raised to Ba1 from Ba2, the long-term debt ratings to Ba1 from Ba2 (senior) and to Ba3 from B1 (subordinated). The short-term rating of Not Prime and bank financial strength rating of E remain unchanged. The outlook for the ratings is positive.

Korea Exchange Bank - the rating of the bank for its long-term deposits was raised to Ba1 from Ba2, the long-term debt ratings to Ba1 from Ba2 (senior) and to Ba3 from B1 (subordinated). The short-term rating of Not Prime and bank financial strength rating of E remain unchanged. The outlook for the ratings is positive.

Cho Hung Bank - the rating of the bank for its long-term deposits was raised to Ba1 from Ba2, the long-term debt ratings to Ba1 from Ba2 (senior) and to Ba3 from B1 (subordinated). The short-term rating of Not Prime and bank financial strength rating of E remain unchanged. The outlook for the ratings is positive.

KorAm Bank - the rating of the bank for its long-term deposits was raised to Ba2 from Ba3, and the long-term subordinated debt rating to B1 from B2. The short-term rating of Not Prime and bank financial strength rating of E+ were unchanged. The outlook for the ratings is positive.

Korea First Bank - the bank financial strength rating was raised to E+ from E, and placed under review for possible further upgrade together with the bank's rating for its long-term deposits of Ba3, and its long-term debt ratings of Ba3 (senior) and B2 (subordinated). The bank's short-term rating of Not Prime remains unchanged.

New York
Brian Oak/Charles Tan
Vice Presidents
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service

New York
Deborah Schuler
VP - Sr Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service

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