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Rating Action:

Moody's Downgrades Finansbank (Holland) NV; Upgrades Finansbank Russia

04 Dec 2006
Moody's Downgrades Finansbank (Holland) NV; Upgrades Finansbank Russia

Action Concludes Ratings Reviews Started in April 2006; all Ratings have a Stable Outlook.

London, 04 December 2006 -- Moody's Investors Service has today downgraded the Baa2/P-2 deposit ratings and C- financial strength rating (FSR) of Finansbank (Holland) N.V., Amsterdam ("FBH") to Baa3/P-3/D+ and the Baa3 rating for Subordinated Floating Rate Euronotes issued by FBH to Ba1. At the same time, Moody's has upgraded the long term local and foreign currency deposit ratings of Finansbank (Russia) Ltd. ("FBR") to Ba1 from Ba2. The Senior Unsecured rating on the Loan Participation Notes issued by Finansbank Russia through a Luxembourg based vehicle has also been upgraded to Ba1 from Ba2. By the same action, Moody's has confirmed FBR's D- FSR. Moody's Interfax Rating Agency has upgraded FBR's National Scale Rating to Aa1.ru from Aa2.ru. FBR's short-term foreign and local currency deposit ratings are unaffected by this action and remain at Not-Prime (NP). All ratings have a stable outlook.

Following the April 2006 announcement by Finansbank A.S. of Turkey -- the parent bank of FBR and FBH at the time -- that the National Bank of Greece would buy the Turkish bank and sell its international holdings, including FBH and FBR, back to the FIBA Group, Moody's placed all of FBH's ratings and FBR's D- financial strength rating on review for possible downgrade. At the same time, FBR's local and foreign currency deposit ratings, its senior unsecured rating, and its National Scale Rating were all placed on review with direction uncertain, as it became apparent that majority control of FBR's equity would transferred from Fiba International Holding, a Netherlands-based holding company, to FBH, which is 100% owned by Fiba International Holding. Today's rating action concludes these reviews.

In downgrading the ratings of FBH, Moody's recognises the material change in the risk profile of the Amsterdam-based bank in having acquired 95% of FBR, as well as the possible strain on its capital adequacy ratios going forward given the planned rapid growth of FBR's risk assets. FBR's assets account for an indicated 25% of FBH's expanded asset-base and 32% of its shareholders' funds as at 30 September 2006, the first period for which a consolidated balance sheet is available; FBR appears to contribute around 20% of the net earnings of FBH on a proforma basis for the first eight months of 2006. Moody's welcomes the reduced weight of Turkey in the geographical profile of the payment risk in FBH's consolidated assets resulting from the acquisition of control of FBR, as well as the diminution of the importance of related party lending. However, Moody's views retail and small-to-medium-sized enterprise (SME) lending in Russia to be subject to greater risks and uncertainties than the lending activities of FBH prior to the acquisition of FBR, which was largely trade related.

Furthermore, Moody's understands that the current pace of expansion and the planned expansion of FBR's lending volumes and - to a lesser extent - the existing trade finance activities at the level of the FBH parent company bank will together result in FBH's owners having to inject capital in the expanded bank again by the end of 2007, having already started a process to increase capital by the end of 2006. In contrast, FBH had been able to generate and retain sufficient earnings to ensure a solid level of regulatory capitalisation for a number of years up to and including 2005. Moody's notes that FBH's and FBR's ultimate shareholder -- the Ozyegin family and their investment vehicle FIBA Holding -- has not changed and that in its opinion, the ultimate shareholder maintains both the ability and the willingness to continue to provide FBH and FBR with the capital resources periodically required to fund the banks' rapid growth. However, Moody's cannot view this in the same light as capital already being in place to support planned expansion.

However, Moody's said the existing franchise and earnings power of FBH seems well placed to withstand a separation from the former Turkish parent bank as well as a brand-name change. The original decision to place FBH's ratings on review for possible downgrade had related to the existence of a number of conditions related to the agreement for NBG to sell the non-Turkish operations of Finansbank A.S. to FIBA Holding. In particular, it had been indicated that there would be conditions including (i) restriction on FBH's operations involving Turkish and Turkish-owned corporate clients to those clients it already (ii) a cap on FBH's maximum lending and committed facility volumes to such clients for a period of three years and (iii) an undertaking on FBH, FBR and other banks to be owned by FIBA Holding to change their brands within twelve months. On having carried out its review, Moody's conclude that the restrictions have not hampered growth in FBH's trade finance activities -- taking into account on-balance sheet positions and off-balance sheet commitments, Moody's notes that trade finance related credit rose 23% from end-December 2005 to end June 2006 and a further 13% from end-June to the end of August prior to the consolidation of FBR into the accounts. At the same time net interest margins have improved significantly despite a marked reduction in holdings in high yield bonds. This durability of core revenue appears to be attributable to the extent of business generated with corporate clients located outside Turkey and to the rapid expansion to a niche relating to financing of iron ore and non-ferrous commodities trade internationally, with clients not related to Turkey. Furthermore, the costs of re-branding -- to Credit Europe Bank - are projected to be minor and should not affect a mainly corporate-business based customer franchise which is not based on the customer contacts and brand of the former Turkish parent bank but rather built on the contacts and know-how of a distinct group of expatriate of managers of long-standing within FBH and FBR who remain within these two banks and its holding group.

In upgrading FBR's deposit and debt ratings, Moody's reflects its opinion that direct majority ownership by FBH, a Netherlands-regulated bank, enhances FBR's debt and deposit ratings. Placing FBR's debt and deposit ratings within one notch of those of Finansbank Holland underscores Moody's belief that there is a high likelihood that Finansbank Holland would provide support to FBR in the event of need.

Moody's notes that its earlier decision to place FBR's bank financial strength rating (BFSR) on review for downgrade reflected the uncertainty surrounding the bank's ownership structure, the composition of management, and the bank's access to funding and other resources, as well as the costs of re-branding and its effects on FBR's franchise and business model. In confirming FBR's BFSR at D-, Moody's notes that the bank's ownership structure has now been favourably resolved, and remains transparent, which is often not the case with Russian banks of a similar size. Moreover, FBR's relatively limited exposure to related parties is expected to continue. In addition, the current management team, which leverages knowledge of and expertise in retail and SME banking across many European markets and has been instrumental in leading the bank, will remain in place. FBR benefits considerably from access to group resources, knowledge and skills, particularly in retail and SME banking in various European markets, which represents a significant advantage relative to other Russian banks of a similar size. With a group presence in Holland, Switzerland, Russia and Romania, and continued access to FIBA Group resources in Turkey, we believe that FBR's strength in this area will be unaffected by the ownership change. Finally, although the costs of re-branding are not insignificant, they are projected to be relatively minor compared to the bank's operating income, while no major negative impacts or changes on the bank's business model are expected to occur.

Moody's indicated that developments that could potentially move both FBH's and FBR's ratings up include (i) reduction of FBR's high non-performing loan levels while ensuring better provisioning coverage of problem loans in Russia; (ii) the demonstrated ability to maintain a high level of capital adequacy without relying on periodic injections from the ultimate shareholder; and (iii) successful diversification of FBH's consolidated assets and earnings towards countries and activities entailing lower risks. Potential developments that could potentially move both FBH's and FBR's ratings down include: (i) continued increases in NPL levels in Russia or failure to increase provisioning substantially (ii) delays in the ultimate shareholder providing capital injections to ensure a solid level of capitalisation (iii) unforeseen negative impacts on the banks' business models or financial fundamentals resulting from the re-branding commitments related to the change in ownership; and (iv) other banks with a higher risk profile being brought into FBH's scope of consolidation.

Finansbank (Holland) N.V., founded in 1994 and headquartered in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, had consolidated total assets of EUR2048 million and shareholders` equity of EUR191 million at 30 June 2006, prior to the consolidation of Finansbank Russia Ltd. As at 30 September 2006, following the first time consolidation of Finansbank Russia Limited, FBH had consolidated total assets of EUR3088 million and shareholders` equity of EUR281 million

Finansbank Russia Ltd., founded in 1997 and headquartered in Moscow, Russia, had total assets of USD 636.6 million and shareholders` equity of USD 61.4 million at 30 June 2006.

The following ratings of Finansbank (Holland) N.V. have been affected:

- Bank Financial Strength Rating downgraded to D+

- Long Term Bank Deposit Rating downgraded Baa3

- Short-term Bank Deposit Rating downgraded to P-3

- Subordinated Floating Rate Euronotes downgraded to Ba1

The following ratings of Finansbank Russia Ltd. have been affected:

- Bank Financial Strength Rating confirmed at D-

- Long Term Foreign Currency Bank Deposit Rating upgraded to Ba1

- Long Term Local Currency Bank Deposit Rating upgraded to Ba1

- Senior Unsecured Rating (Loan Participation Notes Issued through a Luxembourg based vehicle) upgraded to Ba1

- National Scale Ratings upgraded to Aa1.ru

London
James Hyde
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Limassol
Boyd Anderson
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Cyprus Limited
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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