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Announcement:

Moody's Says Ratings of Swiss Government and its Banks Unaffected by Measures to Support Banks

21 Oct 2008
Moody's Says Ratings of Swiss Government and its Banks Unaffected by Measures to Support Banks

Frankfurt, October 21, 2008 -- Moody's Investors Service today said that the measures announced by Switzerland to support its largest banks will not endanger the creditworthiness of the Swiss government nor will they lead to wholesale rating changes in the Swiss banking sector. These conclusions are expanded in two new Moody's Special Comments entitled "Swiss Government's Aaa Ratings Unaffected by Recent Measures to Support Banks" and "Swiss Government's support measures and their relative importance for Swiss banks."

Moody's comments are in response to the Swiss government's announcement on 16 October 2008 of a range of measures aimed at strengthening individual banks, notably UBS and Credit Suisse, and the functioning of Switzerland's banking system overall. Specifically, the Swiss government is going to (i) reinforce the deposit insurance system; (ii) transfer illiquid assets from UBS's balance sheets and bolster its capital bases; (iii) raise further the regulatory capital requirements for Credit Suisse and UBS; and (iv) guarantee for all Swiss banks new short- and medium-term inter-bank liabilities as and when necessary.

SWITZERLAND'S SOVEREIGN RATING

"Moody's believes that the Aaa rating of the government of Switzerland can withstand a large-scale support operation for its banks," says Alexander Kockerbeck, Vice President-Senior Credit Officer in Moody's Sovereign Risk Group. This is in line with Moody's view that the ratings of other European governments are not affected by the support measures they have so far announced for their respective banking systems.

In the case of Switzerland, Moody's opinion is based on (i) the underlying economic and institutional strength and financial robustness of the Swiss government; (ii) the quality of any bank assets that the government would acquire through the announced support operations, thereby lowering the net increase in government debt; and (iii) the likelihood that such an interpolation of the government balance sheet would better assure an early economic recovery.

"Moreover, in the event that the Swiss government is required to mobilize further significant financial resources to help its large banks -- over and above the assistance measures announced today -- Moody's believes that it would most likely still maintain Switzerland's Aaa rating for a number of compelling reasons," explains Mr. Kockerbeck. The reasons are the Swiss government's ability to raise potentially larger amounts of debt through (i) its access to a large pool of domestic savings, in a country with a savings rate equivalent to nearly one-third of GDP; (ii) the Swiss franc's role as an international reserve currency; supporting the country's sterling reputation; and (iii) for short-term liquidity pressures, the Swiss central bank's unlimited swap line with the US Federal Reserve, which provides very precious relief at times when dollar funding is scarce.

As detailed below, given the Swiss banks' considerable financial strength, Moody's does not expect a large amount of this contingent liability to migrate to the government's balance sheet. Not only will the government acquire assets in any such operation, implying a relatively small increase in the government's net debt, but those assets could ultimately be sold, shrinking its balance sheet back to close to its original size.

SWITZERLAND'S BANK RATINGS

"Moody's believes that the Swiss government's support measures for its large banks are unlikely to lead to wholesale rating changes in the Swiss banking sector, as the banks' current senior unsecured long-term ratings already incorporate a relatively high likelihood of systemic support -- an assumption that has been validated by the proven, actual availability of systemic support," says Guido Versondert, Vice President-Senior Analyst in Moody's Financial Institutions Group.

Overall, Moody's views the Swiss government's proposals as a positive development, albeit not strictly necessary for many of the regional and private banks. The rating agency believes that the Swiss government's initiative should strongly contribute to restoring investor confidence in the domestic and international banking systems.

Moreover, the rating agency expects that UBS and Credit Suisse are, and will likely remain, the main beneficiaries of the support package announced by the Swiss government. While also potentially benefiting from these announcements, Moody's does not believe that the Raiffeisen Group or any of the regional or private banks which Moody's rates in Switzerland are the key addressees of this announcement, and these will therefore not be subject to any imminent rating implications.

"It is crucial for market participants to differentiate between UBS and Credit Suisse and their temporary problems on the one hand, and the Raiffeisen Group and the regional and private banks on the other, which mostly continue to display comparatively moderate business and financial risks and are generally in good health," explains Mr. Versondert. This is because their business and financial characteristics and the degree to which they are affected by the crisis differ significantly: (i) Credit Suisse and UBS with their strong involvement in international capital markets and flows; (ii) the regional banks, including the Raiffeisen Group, and their almost entirely domestic focus; and (iii) the private banks, with their conservatively structured balance sheet and traditional tendency to minimize their credit, market and liquidity risks.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For more information, please contact New York Press Information +1-212-553-0376; EMEA Press Information in London +44-20-7772-5456; Juan Pablo Soriano in Madrid +34-91-310-1454; Alex Cataldo in Milan +39-02-914-81-100; Eric de Bodard in Paris +331-5330-1076; Detlef Scholz in Frankfurt +49-69-707-30-700; Mardig Haladjian in Limassol +357-25-586-586; Alex Sazhin in Moscow +7495-641-1881; Petr Vins in Prague +4202 2422 2929; Tokyo Press Information +813-5408-4110; Hilary Parkes in Toronto +1-416-214-1635; Hong Kong Press Information +852-2916-1150; Hector Lim +612 9270 8102; Luiz Tess in São Paulo +5511-3043-7300; Alberto Jones Tamayo in Mexico City +5255-1253-5700; Daniel Rúas in Buenos Aires +54 11-4816-2332 ext. 105; Craig Jamieson in Johannesburg +27-11-217-5470; Jehad el-Nakla in Dubai +971 4 401 9536; or visit our web site at www.moodys.com

London

Pierre Cailleteau

Managing Director

Sovereign Risk Group

Moody's Investors Service Ltd. - England

JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456

SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

New York

Kristin Lindow

Senior Vice President

Sovereign Risk Group

Moody's Investors Service - New York NY

JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376

SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Frankfurt
Alexander Kockerbeck
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Sovereign Risk Group
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

London
Guido Versondert
Vice President - Senior Analyst
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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