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Announcement:

Moody's adjusts Ireland's country ceiling to A3

06 Sep 2012

Frankfurt am Main, September 06, 2012 -- Moody's Investors Service has today adjusted Ireland's local and foreign currency bond and deposit country ceilings to A3 from Aaa. The lower ceiling means that the highest rating that can be assigned to a domestic issuer in Ireland or to a structured finance security backed by Irish receivables is now A3. At the same time, Moody's has also adjusted the short-term foreign-currency debt and deposit ceilings to Prime-2 from Prime-1.

Moody's notes that these changes have limited rating implications for fundamental credits in Ireland. All structured finance (SF) transactions backed by Irish receivables which are already subject to a maximum SF rating of A1 and currently rated above A3 are likely to be downgraded to a maximum rating of A3. Moody's is also likely to downgrade covered bond ratings backed by Irish receivables whose senior-most tranche ratings currently exceed A3.

RATIONALE

Moody's decision to lower Ireland's country ceiling is based on the rating agency's assessment of the elevated risk for economic and financial dislocations in Ireland. The weakness of the economy constitutes a substantial risk factor to non-government issuers in Ireland because income and access to liquidity and funding could be sharply curtailed to all classes of borrowers. The lower ceiling also reflects the risk of exit and redenomination in the unlikely event of a default by the sovereign.

The gap between Ireland's Ba1 government bond rating (with negative outlook) and its A3 country ceiling at four notches is greater than that for some other euro area countries, including Italy (Baa2 negative, country ceiling at A2) and Spain (Baa3 review for possible downgrade, country ceiling at A3) which both have three-notch gaps. The larger gap captures Ireland's economic flexibility, as reflected in significant wage adjustments in the wake of the crisis and a relatively quick external re-balancing of its current account. In Moody's view, Ireland's ability to restore competitiveness by means of an internal devaluation through wage adjustment mitigates the risk of an euro area exit should the government default.

Moody's rates a significant number of structured finance debt obligations issued by special purpose vehicles or other entities incorporated in Ireland. In the unlikely event of Ireland leaving the euro these obligations would possibly be negatively impacted, either by reason of redenomination or capital and exchange controls. Obligations that are backed by assets located in Ireland would most likely be affected. Obligations that are backed by assets located outside of Ireland are generally less likely to be affected, subject to how they are documented.

If the Irish government's bond rating were to fall further from its current Ba1 level, Moody's would likely reassess the country ceiling at that time. Moody's would also likely reassess the country ceiling in the event of an upgrade of the Irish government's bond rating.

Moody's country ceilings capture externalities and event risks that arise unavoidably as a consequence of locating a business in a particular country and that ultimately constrain domestic issuers' ability to service their debt obligations. As such, the ceiling encapsulates elements of the economic, financial, political, and legal risks in a country, including political instability, the risk of government intervention, the risk of systemic economic disruption, severe financial instability risks, currency redenomination, and natural disasters among other factors, that need to be incorporated into the ratings of even the strongest domestic issuers. The ceiling caps the credit rating of all issuers and transactions with material exposure to those risks -- in other words, it affects all domestic issuers and transactions other than those whose assets and revenues are predominantly sourced from or located outside of the country, or which benefit from an external credit support.

For a more detailed discussion of Moody's approach to country risk ceilings, please see Moody's Rating Implementation Guidance entitled "Local-Currency Country Risk Ceiling for Bonds and Other Local Currency Obligations", published on 16 August 2012.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

Moody's considers the quality of information available on the rated entity, obligation or credit satisfactory for the purposes of issuing a rating.

Moody's adopts all necessary measures so that the information it uses in assigning a rating is of sufficient quality and from sources Moody's considers to be reliable including, when appropriate, independent third-party sources. However, Moody's is not an auditor and cannot in every instance independently verify or validate information received in the rating process.

Please see Moody's Rating Symbols and Definitions on the Rating Process page on www.moodys.com for further information on the meaning of each rating category and the definition of default and recovery.

Please see ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the last rating action and the rating history. The date on which some ratings were first released goes back to a time before Moody's ratings were fully digitized and accurate data may not be available. Consequently, Moody's provides a date that it believes is the most reliable and accurate based on the information that is available to it. Please see the ratings disclosure page on our website www.moodys.com for further information.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Dietmar Hornung
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Sovereign Risk Group
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
An der Welle 5
Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Bart Oosterveld
MD - Sovereign Risk
Sovereign Risk Group
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Releasing Office:
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
An der Welle 5
Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's adjusts Ireland's country ceiling to A3
No Related Data.
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