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Rating Action:

Moody's affirms Bank of America's ratings, outlook changed to positive from stable

22 Nov 2021

New York, November 22, 2021 -- Moody's Investors Service ("Moody's") has affirmed the long-term debt and deposit ratings, counterparty risk ratings and counterparty risk assessments of Bank of America Corporation (BAC, senior debt at A2) and its rated subsidiaries, as well as the baseline credit assessment (BCA) of its principal bank subsidiary, Bank of America, N.A. (BANA, deposits at Aa2 and BCA of a3). Moody's also affirmed all Prime-1 short-term ratings for BAC and its rated subsidiaries. At the same time the rating agency changed the rating outlook to positive from stable. A complete list of affected ratings and entities can be found at the end of this press release.

RATINGS RATIONALE

The affirmation reflects BAC's conservative risk appetite and continued robust funding and liquidity profile. The affirmation also incorporates Moody's expectation that while BAC's profitability has been adversely affected by the low interest rate environment, the bank's ongoing expense discipline, continued investments in technology, and diversified business mix should all continue to support a resilient earnings profile.

Moody's noted that BAC continues to demonstrate greater resiliency under the Federal Reserve's stress tests than most peers, a cautious approach to loan growth, strict limits on concentrations, and a primary focus on better serving existing customers rather than aggressively seeking out new (and possibly riskier) customers. These point to a more conservative risk appetite than found at many of BAC's peers. Given the importance placed on its "Responsible Growth" strategy by the bank's board of directors and senior management, Moody's expect BAC's conservative risk profile will be sustained going forward, despite occasional earnings pressures.

The change in Moody's rating outlook for BAC to positive from stable reflects a number of considerations. The rating agency expects that the reduction in BAC's reliance on market funding over the past two years is likely to be sustained over the medium-term, driven by the firm's strong deposit growth and expectations for relatively moderate loan growth, consistent with the firm's responsible growth strategy.

In addition, while Moody's expects the bank's standardized common equity tier 1 (CET1) capital ratio to decline closer to management's target of 10% to 10.5% over the medium term, the rating agency also expects the bank's tangible common equity as a percentage of advanced approaches risk-weighted assets (RWAs) will remain at least 150 basis points higher. And consistent with the bank's conservative risk appetite, the rating agency expects incremental asset growth will continue to result in higher risk-weighted assets under the standardized approach than under the more risk-sensitive advanced approach, so that the standardized ratio remains the bank's binding regulatory constraint and its capital ratios using advanced approaches RWAs remain considerably higher.

Finally, while the rating agency expects BAC's net income as a percentage of tangible assets could decline from 2021's robust levels as both loan loss provisions and investment banking revenues return to more normalized levels, over the medium term Moody's expects these earnings headwinds will be offset by higher net interest income and net interest margins, driven by BAC's recent deployment of a portion of its excess cash into treasury securities as well as the increased profits the firm is likely to earn on its core deposit base in a higher interest rate environment.

FACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO AN UPGRADE OR DOWNGRADE OF THE RATINGS

BAC's ratings could be upgraded if it were to sustain its tangible common equity above 12.0% of risk-weighted assets (RWAs) on an advanced approach basis, sustain its profitability above 0.75% of tangible assets, and maintain its reliance on market funds below 25% of tangible assets on a sustainable basis, while maintaining its conservative risk appetite.

BAC's ratings could be downgraded if it suffers a sustained decline in pre-tax, pre-provision profitability, experiences a significant deterioration in capital or liquidity levels relative to peers and targets, exhibits a marked increase in risk appetite, or experiences a sizeable operational risk charge or control failure.

Although not expected, a sustained reduction in the volume of BAC's holding company debt outstanding would reduce the loss absorption buffer at the holding company in the event of the bank's failure and increase the potential severity of loss for BANA's bondholders under Moody's advanced loss-given-failure (LGF) analysis. This could lead to a downgrade of BANA's subordinated and senior unsecured debt ratings, depending upon the magnitude of the reduction.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Banks Methodology published in July 2021 and available at https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1269625. Alternatively, please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

Affirmations:

..Issuer: Bank of America Corporation

.Commercial Paper (Local Currency), Affirmed P-1

.LT Issuer Rating (Local Currency), Affirmed A2, Positive from Stable

.Senior Unsecured MTN (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)A2

.Senior Unsecured MTN (Foreign Currency), Affirmed (P)A2

.Subordinate MTN (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)Baa1

.Subordinate MTN (Foreign Currency), Affirmed (P)Baa1

.Pref. Stock Non-cumulative (Local Currency), Affirmed Baa3 (hyb)

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture (Local Currency), Affirmed A2, Positive from Stable

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture (Foreign Currency), Affirmed A2, Positive from Stable

....Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture (Local Currency), Affirmed Baa1

....Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture (Foreign Currency), Affirmed Baa1

....Senior Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture (Local Currency), Affirmed Baa1

....Junior Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture (Local Currency), Affirmed Baa2 (hyb)

.Senior Unsec. Shelf (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)A2

.Subordinate Shelf (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)Baa1

.Junior Subordinate Shelf (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)Baa2

.Pref. shelf Non-cumulative (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)Baa3

..Issuer: Bank of America, N.A.

.Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed a3

.Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed a3

.Senior Unsecured Bank Note Program (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)Aa2

.Subordinate Bank Note Program (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)Aa3

.ST Bank Note Program (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)P-1

.Commercial Paper (Local Currency), Affirmed P-1

.LT Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed Aa2(cr)

.ST Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed P-1(cr)

.LT Counterparty Risk Rating (Local Currency), Affirmed Aa2

.LT Counterparty Risk Rating (Foreign Currency), Affirmed Aa2

.ST Counterparty Risk Rating (Local Currency), Affirmed P-1

.ST Counterparty Risk Rating (Foreign Currency), Affirmed P-1

.LT Issuer Rating, Affirmed Aa2, Positive from Stable

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture (Local Currency), Affirmed Aa2, Positive from Stable

....Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture (Local Currency), Affirmed Aa3

.LT Bank Deposits (Local Currency), Affirmed Aa2, Positive from Stable

.ST Bank Deposits (Local Currency), Affirmed P-1

..Issuer: B of A Issuance B.V. (Assumed by Merrill Lynch B.V.)

....Backed Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture (Local Currency), Affirmed A2, Positive from Stable

..Issuer: BAC Capital Trust XIII

.Backed Pref. Stock Non-cumulative (Local Currency), Affirmed Baa3 (hyb)

..Issuer: BAC Capital Trust XIV

.Backed Pref. Stock Non-cumulative (Local Currency), Affirmed Baa3 (hyb)

..Issuer: BAC Capital Trust XV

.Pref. Stock (Local Currency), Affirmed Baa2 (hyb)

..Issuer: LaSalle Bank N.A. (Assumed by Bank of America, N.A.)

....Backed Deposit Note/CD Program (Local Currency), Affirmed Aa2, Positive from Stable

..Issuer: LaSalle Funding LLC

....Backed Senior Unsecured MTN (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)A2

....Backed Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture (Local Currency), Affirmed A2, Positive from Stable

.... Backed Senior Unsecured Shelf (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)A2

.... Backed Subordinate Shelf (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)Baa1

..Issuer: Bank of America, N.A. (Sydney Branch)

.Commercial Paper (Foreign Currency), Affirmed P-1

.LT Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed Aa2(cr)

.ST Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed P-1(cr)

.LT Counterparty Risk Rating (Local Currency), Affirmed Aa2

.LT Counterparty Risk Rating (Foreign Currency), Affirmed Aa2

.ST Counterparty Risk Rating (Local Currency), Affirmed P-1

.ST Counterparty Risk Rating (Foreign Currency), Affirmed P-1

.Senior Unsecured MTN (Foreign Currency), Affirmed (P)Aa2

.Subordinate MTN (Foreign Currency), Affirmed (P)Aa3

..Issuer: Bank of America, N.A., London Branch

.LT Deposit Note/CD Program (Foreign Currency), Affirmed (P)Aa2

.ST Deposit Note/CD Program (Foreign Currency), Affirmed (P)P-1

.Commercial Paper (Foreign Currency), Affirmed P-1

.LT Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed Aa2(cr)

.ST Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed P-1(cr)

.LT Counterparty Risk Rating (Local Currency), Affirmed Aa2

.LT Counterparty Risk Rating (Foreign Currency), Affirmed Aa2

.ST Counterparty Risk Rating (Local Currency), Affirmed P-1

.ST Counterparty Risk Rating (Foreign Currency), Affirmed P-1

..Issuer: BA Australia Limited

.Backed Senior Unsecured MTN (Foreign Currency), Affirmed (P)Aa2

.Backed Other Short Term (Foreign Currency), Affirmed (P)P-1

..Issuer: BofA Finance LLC

....Backed Senior Unsecured MTN (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)A2

....Backed Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture (Local Currency), Affirmed A2, Positive from Stable

....Backed Senior Unsecured Shelf (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)A2

..Issuer: FleetBoston Financial Corporation (Assumed by Bank of America Corporation)

....Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture (Local Currency), Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. (Assumed by Bank of America Corporation)

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture (Local Currency), Affirmed A2, Positive from Stable

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture (Foreign Currency), Affirmed A2, Positive from Stable

....Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture (Local Currency), Affirmed Baa1

....Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture (Foreign Currency), Affirmed Baa1

..Issuer: BAC Canada Finance Company

....Backed Senior Unsecured MTN (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)A2

....Backed Subordinate MTN (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)Baa1

....Backed Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture (Local Currency), Affirmed A2, Positive from Stable

....Backed Senior Unsecured Shelf (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)A2

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch S.A. (Assumed by Bank of America Corporation)

....Backed Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture (Foreign Currency), Affirmed A2, Positive from Stable

Issuer: Merrill Lynch Credit Reinsurance Ltd.

.LT Issuer Rating, Affirmed A3, Positive from Stable

Issuer: Merrill Lynch International & Co. C.V.

....Backed Senior Unsecured MTN (Foreign Currency), Affirmed (P)A2

....Backed Other Short Term (Foreign Currency), Affirmed (P)P-1

Issuer: Merrill Lynch Japan Finance GK

....Backed Senior Unsecured MTN (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)A2

....Backed Other Short Term (Local Currency), Affirmed (P)P-1

Issuer: Merrill Lynch Reinsurance Solutions Ltd.

.LT Issuer Rating, Affirmed A3, Positive from Stable

Outlook Actions:

..Issuer: Bank of America Corporation

....Outlook, Changed To Positive From Stable

..Issuer: Bank of America, N.A.

....Outlook, Changed To Positive From Stable

..Issuer: LaSalle Funding LLC

....Outlook, Changed To Positive From Stable

..Issuer: BofA Finance LLC

....Outlook, Changed To Positive From Stable

..Issuer: BAC Canada Finance Company

....Outlook, Changed To Positive From Stable

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch Credit Reinsurance Ltd.

....Outlook, Changed To Positive From Stable

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch Reinsurance Solutions Ltd.

....Outlook, Changed To Positive From Stable

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For further specification of Moody's key rating assumptions and sensitivity analysis, see the sections Methodology Assumptions and Sensitivity to Assumptions in the disclosure form. Moody's Rating Symbols and Definitions can be found at: https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_79004.

For ratings issued on a program, series, category/class of debt or security this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series, category/class of debt, security or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the credit rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular credit rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

For any affected securities or rated entities receiving direct credit support from the primary entity(ies) of this credit rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this credit rating action, the associated regulatory disclosures will be those of the guarantor entity. Exceptions to this approach exist for the following disclosures, if applicable to jurisdiction: Ancillary Services, Disclosure to rated entity, Disclosure from rated entity.

The ratings have been disclosed to the rated entity or its designated agent(s) and issued with no amendment resulting from that disclosure.

These ratings are solicited. Please refer to Moody's Policy for Designating and Assigning Unsolicited Credit Ratings available on its website www.moodys.com.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

Moody's general principles for assessing environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks in our credit analysis can be found at http://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1288235.

The Global Scale Credit Rating on this Credit Rating Announcement was issued by one of Moody's affiliates outside the EU and is endorsed by Moody's Deutschland GmbH, An der Welle 5, Frankfurt am Main 60322, Germany, in accordance with Art.4 paragraph 3 of the Regulation (EC) No 1060/2009 on Credit Rating Agencies. Further information on the EU endorsement status and on the Moody's office that issued the credit rating is available on www.moodys.com.

The Global Scale Credit Rating on this Credit Rating Announcement was issued by one of Moody's affiliates outside the UK and is endorsed by Moody's Investors Service Limited, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5FA under the law applicable to credit rating agencies in the UK. Further information on the UK endorsement status and on the Moody's office that issued the credit rating is available on www.moodys.com.

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.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

David Fanger
Senior Vice President
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

Donald Robertson
Associate Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

No Related Data.
© 2022 Moody’s Corporation, Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., Moody’s Analytics, Inc. and/or their licensors and affiliates (collectively, “MOODY’S”). All rights reserved.

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