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Rating Action:

Moody's affirms Caja Laboral's Ba1 deposit ratings; outlook stable

04 Jul 2016

Madrid, July 04, 2016 -- Moody's Investors Service has today affirmed Caja Laboral Popular Coop. de Credito's (Caja Laboral) long-term deposit ratings at Ba1. The rating agency also affirmed the bank's baseline credit assessment (BCA) and adjusted BCA at ba1 and upgraded the Counterparty Risk (CR) Assessment to Baa2(cr)/Prime-2(cr) from Baa3(cr)/Prime-3(cr). The outlook on the long-term deposit ratings remains stable.

Caja Laboral's Not-Prime short-term deposit ratings were unaffected by today's rating action.

This rating action reflects the stabilisation of the bank's solvency and liquidity position, with improving asset quality trends offset by downward pressure on the bank's top-line earnings. The rating action also reflects the result of Moody's Advanced Loss Given Failure (LGF) analysis, which indicates a higher cushion against default provided to the senior obligations represented by the CR Assessment, in light of the bank's deleveraging and stability in deposits.

A list of affected ratings can be found at the end of the press release.

RATINGS RATIONALE

---RATIONALE FOR AFFIRMING THE BCA

Caja Laboral's affirmed ba1 BCA continues to reflect the bank's adequate solvency levels against its balance sheet risk profile, as well as its favorable funding position, given its large deposit base and reduced reliance on market funding. However, the BCA also reflects the relatively high -- albeit declining -- level of problematic assets and the historically modest profitability indicators.

In terms of asset risk, the bank's non-performing loan (NPL) ratio stood at 7.2% by end-December 2015, down from 8.4% a year earlier, and compares favorably with the system average of 9.5%. While the exposure to other problematic assets -- namely repossessed real estate assets and refinanced loans classified as performing -- has not evolved as positively as the stock of NPLs, the broader problematic assets ratio still declined to 17.2% at the end of 2015 from 17.7% a year before.

Moody's has also incorporated Caja Laboral's improved capital ratios, primarily driven by the balance sheet deleveraging with a lower exposure to sovereign bonds. Moody's calculated Tangible Common Equity (TCE) ratio improved to 12.4% at end-December 2015 from 10.7% a year earlier, benefiting from lower risk weighted assets that Moody's assigns to the bank's sovereign exposure, given that a large part of the bank's Spanish sovereign debt portfolio matured in 2015. From a regulatory perspective, the bank's capital ratios also improved, with Caja Laboral reporting a phased-in Common Equity Tier 1 (CET 1) ratio of 15.1% at end-December 2015, which compares to 13.6% a year earlier.

In affirming Caja Laboral's BCA, Moody's has also taken into account the weakening trend in the bank's top-line earnings, which, to a large extent, offsets the positive developments on the bank's financial strength due to improved quality of assets. The bank's net interest income decreased by 16% in 2015 compared to 2014, which, combined with the stability observed in other revenue sources and operating expenses, led to a 17% decrease in the pre-provision income in 2015.

---RATIONALE FOR AFFIRMING THE LONG-TERM DEPOSIT RATINGS

The affirmation of Caja Laboral's long-term deposit ratings at Ba1 reflects: (1) The affirmation of the bank's adjusted BCA at ba1; (2) the result from the rating agency's Advanced Loss-Given Failure (LGF) analysis, which results in an unchanged no uplift for the deposit ratings; and (3) Moody's assessment of a low probability of government support, which results in no uplift.

---RATIONALE FOR UPGRADING THE CR ASSESSMENT

Moody's has upgraded the CR Assessment of Caja Laboral by one-notch to Baa2(cr)/Prime-2(cr) from Baa3(cr)/Prime-3(cr), two notches above the adjusted BCA of ba1. The upgrade of the CR Assessment is based on the outcome of Moody's Advanced LGF analysis, which provides a more favorable outcome for the CR Assessment as a consequence of the decline in total assets and the stability in deposits observed in 2015. As a consequence, the senior obligations represented by the CR Assessment benefit from a higher cushion against default.

--RATIONALE FOR THE STABLE OUTLOOK

Caja Laboral's deposit ratings carry a stable outlook, reflecting our expectations that Spain's favorable economic conditions will help to preserve current trends in the bank's credit fundamentals.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING -- UP

Upward pressure on Caja Laboral's standalone BCA could be primarily driven by a sustainable recovery in the bank's recurrent earnings, provided that its risk profile does not deteriorate.

Any change to the BCA would likely also affect deposit ratings, as they are linked to the BCA.

Caja Laboral's deposit ratings could also change as a result of changes in the loss-given-failure faced by these securities.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING - DOWN

Downward pressure could be exerted on Caja Laboral's BCA as a result of: (1) An acceleration in the trend of NPL formation, on an absolute level and in relation to the system average; (2) any worsening in operating conditions beyond our current expectations; and/or (3) any weakening of Caja Laboral's internal capital generation and risk absorption capacity.

Caja Laboral's deposit ratings could also change as a result of changes in the loss-given failure faced by these securities.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

Issuer: Caja Laboral Popular Coop. de Credito

..Upgrades:

....Short-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, upgraded to P-2(cr) from P-3(cr)

....Long-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, upgraded to Baa2(cr) from Baa3(cr)

..Affirmations:

....Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, affirmed ba1

....Baseline Credit Assessment, affirmed ba1

....Long-term Deposit Ratings, affirmed Ba1 Stable

..Outlook Actions:

....Outlook remains Stable

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Banks published in January 2016. Please see the Ratings Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

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 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.

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

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.

Alberto Postigo
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Espana, S.A.
Calle Principe de Vergara, 131, 6 Planta
Madrid 28002
Spain
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Carola Schuler
MD - Banking
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Espana, S.A.
Calle Principe de Vergara, 131, 6 Planta
Madrid 28002
Spain
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's affirms Caja Laboral's Ba1 deposit ratings; outlook stable
No Related Data.
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