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11 Mar 2010
Madrid, March 11, 2010 -- Delays in consolidation and restructuring in the Spanish financial sector,
combined with the low amount of public funds that have flowed into the
sector, are threatening earlier expectations of a material improvement
in the financial strength of the country's banks, Moody's
Investors Service says in a new Special Comment. Persistent delays
and uncertainties in this respect could exert pressure on the debt and
deposit ratings of certain institutions, chiefly those with weaker
standalone financial strength, if they fail to improve their credit
profiles, Moody's cautions.
Moody's stated view since mid-2009 has been that Spanish
banks' debt and deposit ratings should prove relatively stable as
future credit losses -- especially for those institutions
with lower bank financial strength ratings (BFSRs) -- would
be mitigated not only by state-backed capital injections but also
by the expected benefits of upcoming consolidation in the form of mergers
and other integrations. The rating agency has anticipated that
these developments would put these institutions on a sounder, more
competitive footing again -- a view that was further reinforced
after the creation of the Fund for Orderly Bank Restructuring in late
"To date, the pace of consolidation and restructuring has
been much slower than we had anticipated, as has been the flow of
public funds into Spain's financial sector. We are concerned
that -- so far -- no significant progress
in this respect has been made," observes Maria Jose Mori,
a Moody's Assistant Vice-President--Analyst and author
of the report.
The Bank of Spain's stated intention to conclude the system's
restructuring by the end of the first half of 2010 provides some comfort,
but Moody's retains a cautious view with regard to the prospects
for an effective strengthening of the system's financial fundamentals
in the coming months. This view reflects in particular the role
played by political powers in approving any merger or integration project
between savings banks, which is a key factor behind the sluggish
consolidation in this segment, while the very weak operating environment
in Spain continues to put pressure on the sector's financial fundamentals.
Moody's concerns focus in particular on those institutions with
a BFSR below investment grade (i.e. from D+,
mapping to a baseline credit assessment of Ba1, and below).
"Such banks present a weak financial position and a need for restructuring
that, in a large number of cases, should be accompanied by
a public capital injection. If banks with weak BFSRs are unable
to restore their credit fundamentals in the medium term as we had anticipated,
without undertaking major restructuring or receiving public support,
there could be downward pressure on their debt and deposit ratings as
it is very likely that these ratings will be more closely aligned to their
standalone credit profile (as expressed by their BFSR)," Ms
The principal methodologies used in rating Spanish banks are "Bank
Financial Strength Ratings: Global Methodology" and "Incorporation
of Joint-Default Analysis into Moody's Bank Ratings:
A Refined Methodology," which are available on www.moodys.com
in the Rating Methodologies sub-directory under the Research &
Ratings tab. Other methodologies and factors that may have been
considered in the process of rating these issuers can also be found in
the Rating Methodologies sub-directory on Moody's website.
The report, entitled "Spanish Banks: Restructuring Delays
May Weigh on Debt/Deposit Ratings If Financial Fundamentals Fail to Strengthen
As Expected", is available at www.moodys.com.
NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For more information please contact EMEA
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Scholz in Frankfurt +49-69-707-30-700;
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Financial Institutions Group
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JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
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Moody's: Spanish bank sector restructuring delays may weigh on debt/deposit ratings if financials fail to strengthen as expected
Maria Jose Mori
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Espana, S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454
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