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Rating Action:

Moody's affirms Banorte's ratings; outlook remains negative

13 Mar 2013

Mexico, March 13, 2013 -- Moody's de México today affirmed all of Banco Mercantil del Norte, S.A.'s (Banorte) ratings and maintained a negative outlook. The following ratings on Banorte were affirmed: C- standalone bank financial strength rating (BFSR) and A3 long-term global local currency deposit rating. Banorte's standalone C- BFSR maps to a baa2 standalone baseline credit assessment (BCA). Moody's also affirmed the Baa3 long-term subordinated debt and Ba1 junior subordinated debt ratings. The outlook on all these ratings remains negative.

At the same time, Moody's affirmed the A3 global local currency issuer ratings of Arrendadora y Factor Banorte, S.A. as well as the A3 issuer rating of Casa de Bolsa Banorte, S.A. The outlook on these ratings is negative.

The Mexican National Scale ratings of all these related issuers were not affected by this action. The ratings of Ixe Banco, S.A. and Casa de Bolsa Banorte Ixe, S.A. were not affected by this action either.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

The following ratings were affirmed with negative outlook

Banco Mercantil del Norte, S.A.

- Bank financial strength rating (BFSR) of C-, negative outlook

- Long-term global local currency deposits of A3, negative outlook

- Global local currency subordinated debt of Baa3, negative outlook

- Global local currency subordinated debt program of (P) Baa3

- Global local currency junior subordinated debt of Ba1 (hyb), negative outlook

- Global local currency junior subordinated debt program of (P) Ba1

- Mexican National Scale subordinated debt of Aa2.mx, negative outlook

- Mexican National Scale subordinated debt program of Aa2.mx

- Mexican National Scale junior subordinated debt of Aa3.mx (hyb), negative outlook

Arrendadora y Factor Banorte, S.A.

- Global local currency issuer of A3, negative outlook

- Global local currency senior debt program of (P) A3

Casa de Bolsa Banorte, S.A.

- Global local currency issuer rating of A3, negative outlook

RATINGS RATIONALE

Moody's continuation of the negative outlook on Banorte's ratings reflects ongoing uncertainty regarding the bank's financial performance as the bank is asked to support the servicing of its holding company Grupo Financiero Banorte, S.A.B.'s (GFNorte) bridge loan, taken on to finance the bank's acquisition of Administradora de Fondos para el Retiro Bancomer, S.A. de C.V. (Afore Bancomer). It is still unclear how or when the holding will ultimately repay the sizable $800 million of new debt it has contracted.

Moody's acknowledges that the downstreaming of resources from GFNorte to replenish the bank's capital supports the $700 million in goodwill generated by the acquisition of Afore Bancomer.

However, as the debt remains on the group's balance sheet and given that Banorte is the largest earnings and cash generator of the group, it represents a potential drain on the bank's capital resources particularly if the group seeks to upstream additional dividends to the holding in order to service the debt. Moody's also noted that although a number of alternatives may be available to GFNorte to repay its debt and strengthen its capital adequacy, i.e. through a future public offering of shares, these alternatives are contingent upon market conditions and are subject to strategic decisions not yet taken or disclosed, which adds uncertainty to the group's future capital adequacy and cash flow.

Banorte has historically presented a weaker capital profile relative to large Mexican bank peers' as suggested by a lower share of high-quality Tier-1 capital. In this context, despite the downstreaming of the bridge loan by GFNorte to the bank, the acquisition of Afore Bancomer and the bank's high industry and single borrower credit concentrations bring additional pressure to Banorte's capital adequacy and may challenge the bank's growth strategy as it expands to more capital-consuming assets such as consumer loans.

SUB-SOVEREIGN SECTOR EXPOSURE

The negative outlook on Banorte's ratings also reflects the bank's large and growing exposure to Mexico's sub-sovereign sector, and particularly its high single borrower credit concentrations with local governments relative to capital and earnings. The majority of the bank's exposure to the 20 largest borrowers is comprised of large loans to Mexican states, which account for more than 1.3 times Tier 1 capital and 3.4 times core earnings, according to Moody's estimates. Moreover, the five largest single loans to local governments represent 82% of the bank's Tier 1 capital. These high credit concentrations to a single sector point to weak loan granularity and risk diversification.

Moody's also indicated that the future viability of Banorte's business with local governments, which currently represents one fifth of total loans and contributes a good share of total loan revenues is being threatened by potential new legislation and regulatory changes currently under discussion. This is critical to Banorte to the extent that business with local governments represents one of the major cornerstones of the bank's current and future growth strategy. Such potential changes in the regulatory front include: (i) new norms limiting concentrated exposures to sub-sovereign entities, including those backed by federal tax transfers; ii) new legislation that contemplates restricting the borrowing and spending activities of states and municipalities, and iii) the possibility of direct guarantees by the federal government being proffered to states and municipalities that could influence the pricing and hence the profit dynamics of banks lending to this segment, including Banorte.

AFFIRMATION OF STANDALONE AND DEPOSIT RATINGS

In affirming the standalone C-/baa2 ratings, Moody's cited Banorte's strong franchise value supported by important market shares and recurrent earnings power.

Banorte's A3 deposit rating incorporates two notches of uplift from the baa2 standalone credit assessment because of Moody's assessment of a high probability of systemic support from the Mexican government in a stress situation given the bank's importance as a leading deposit-taker and lender in the Mexican market.

Banorte is headquartered in Mexico City. As of 31 December 2012, the bank reported Mx$604 billion in assets (source: Comisión Nacional Bancaria y de Valores).

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Moody's Consolidated Global Bank Rating Methodology published in June 2012. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com.mx for a copy of this methodology.

Moody's National Scale Ratings (NSRs) are intended as relative measures of creditworthiness among debt issues and issuers within a country, enabling market participants to better differentiate relative risks. NSRs differ from Moody's global scale ratings in that they are not globally comparable with the full universe of Moody's rated entities, but only with NSRs for other rated debt issues and issuers within the same country. NSRs are designated by a ".nn" country modifier signifying the relevant country, as in ".mx" for Mexico. For further information on Moody's approach to national scale ratings, please refer to Moody's Rating Methodology published in October 2012 entitled "Mapping Moody's National Scale Ratings to Global Scale Ratings".

The date of the last Credit Rating Action on Banorte was on 4 March 2013 when Moody's concluded the review of Mexican banks' subordinated debt ratings.

The period of time covered in the financial information used to determine Banorte's rating is between 31 December 2006 and 31 December 2012 (source: Moody's, Issuer's financial statements, CNBV and Banxico).

The sources and items of information used to determine Banorte's rating include 2011 and 2012 interim financial statements (source: Grupo Financiero Banorte); year-end 2011 and 2012 audited financial statements (source: Grupo Financiero Banorte, audited by Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited); financial statements and information on market position (source: CNBV); regulatory capital information (source: Banxico); debt offering memorandum (source: Grupo Financiero Banorte).

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

Information sources used to prepare the rating are the following : parties involved in the ratings, parties not involved in the ratings, public information, and confidential and proprietary Moody's Investors Service information.

The rating has been disclosed to the rated entity prior to public dissemination.

A general listing of the sources of information used in the rating process, and the structure and voting process for the rating committees responsible for the assignment and monitoring of ratings can be found in the Disclosure tab in www.moodys.com.mx.

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt 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 rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular 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.mx.

For any affected securities or rated entities receiving direct credit support from the primary entity(ies) of this rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this 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.

This Rating is subject to upgrade or downgrade based on future changes in the financial condition of the Issuer/Security, and said modifications will be made without Moody's de Mexico S.A. de C.V accepting any liability as a result.

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.mx 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.mx 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.mx for further information.

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

The ratings issued by Moody's de Mexico are opinions regarding the credit quality of securities and/or their issuers and not a recommendation to invest in any such security and/or issuer.

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.mx 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.mx 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.mx for further information.

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

The ratings issued by Moody's de Mexico are opinions regarding the credit quality of securities and/or their issuers and not a recommendation to invest in any such security and/or issuer.

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

David Olivares Villagomez
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's de Mexico S.A. de C.V
Ave. Paseo de las Palmas
No. 405 - 502
Col. Lomas de Chapultepec
Mexico, DF 11000
Mexico
JOURNALISTS: 001-888-779-5833
SUBSCRIBERS:52-55-1253-5700

Maria Celina Vansetti-Hutchins
MD - Banking
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Releasing Office:
Moody's de Mexico S.A. de C.V
Ave. Paseo de las Palmas
No. 405 - 502
Col. Lomas de Chapultepec
Mexico, DF 11000
Mexico
JOURNALISTS: 001-888-779-5833
SUBSCRIBERS:52-55-1253-5700

Moody's affirms Banorte's ratings; outlook remains negative
No Related Data.
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