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Rating Action:

Moody's affirms Ibercaja's deposit ratings and changes the outlook to positive

22 Mar 2019

Madrid, March 22, 2019 -- Moody's Investors Service ("Moody's") has today affirmed the long-term deposit ratings of Ibercaja Banco SA (Ibercaja) at Ba3 and changed the outlook to positive from stable. At the same time, Moody's has affirmed the bank's baseline credit assessment (BCA) and adjusted BCA at ba3. Further, Ibercaja's long-term Counterparty Risk Assessment (CR Assessment) has been affirmed at Ba1(cr) as well as its long-term local currency Counterparty Risk Rating at Ba2 and its subordinate debt rating at B1. The bank's short-term ratings and assessments remain unaffected. As part of today's rating action, Moody's has also assigned a long-term and short-term foreign currency Counterparty Risk Rating of Ba2/Not Prime to Ibercaja.

The rating action reflects the gradual improvement of Ibercaja's asset quality achieved in recent years, and Moody's expectation that the improving asset risk trend will continue over the next 12 to 18 months.

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

RATINGS RATIONALE

-- RATIONALE FOR AFFIRMING THE RATINGS WITH POSITIVE OUTLOOK

The affirmation of Ibercaja's ratings with a positive outlook reflects the bank's gradual improvement of its asset quality and Moody's expectation that the positive trend will continue over the next 12 to 18 months. Although at a slower pace than domestic peers, Ibercaja has still been able to reduce its stock of nonperforming assets (NPAs, nonperforming loans plus foreclosed real estate assets) since they peaked in 2014, and principally boosted by a number of NPA portfolio sales that the bank has undertaken in recent years. The bank's NPA ratio still stood at a high 10.2% as of the end of 2018, but Moody's expects the positive asset quality momentum to continue, supported by a slower but still favorable performance of the domestic economy.

The rating affirmation with positive outlook is also underpinned by Ibercaja's strong liquidity profile, which constitutes a key rating strength. The bank benefits from a large retail deposit base that covers most of the bank's funding needs (80% as of the end of 2018); moreover, the share that customer deposits represents over total funding has been increasing over the last few years because the deposit base has remained broadly stable while the bank's balance sheet has progressively declined. The above trend has also translated into lower reliance on market funding (measured as market funds/tangible assets), which declined below 15% as of the end of 2018 from levels above 20% in precedent periods. In affirming Ibercaja's ratings with positive outlook, Moody's expects the bank to continue funding its business primarily through customer deposits, and hence maintaining a low reliance on market funding.

Despite the mentioned improvements, Ibercaja's BCA remains constrained by the entity's weak recurring profitability and capitalisation. The bank's pre-provision income (PPI) over tangible assets ratio stood at 0.57% in 2018 and, even disregarding the negative impact on profits from portfolio sales and restructuring costs, the return on assets ratio would remain at a low 0.2%. In addition, Ibercaja shows a weak capital position, with Moody's key capital metric Tangible Common Equity at 7.4% as of end-December 2018 and a low Moody's calculated leverage ratio (TCE/total tangible assets) of 3.6% . The bank has a large exposure to deferred tax assets (which represented around 50% of the common equity tier 1 capital as of end-2018) that Moody's considers a low-quality form of asset and which weighs on the bank's capital assessment. From a regulatory perspective, Ibercaja shows a more comfortable capital position, with a Common Equity Tier 1 ratio of 11.7% as of end-2018 (10.5% on a fully loaded basis).

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING - UP

Ibercaja's BCA could be upgraded principally as a consequence of a further reduction in the stock of problematic assets. A sustained improvement in recurrent profitability and/or stronger capital and leverage ratios could also trigger an upgrade of the BCA.

As the bank's deposit and senior debt ratings are linked to its BCA, a positive change in its BCA would likely affect all ratings. The ratings could also be upgraded if the bank changes its current liability structure, indicating these securities would face a lower loss given failure.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING - DOWN

Given the positive outlook, Ibercaja's ratings face very limited downward pressure. However, downward pressure on the bank's BCA could result from (1) a reversal in current asset risk trends with an increase in the stock of nonperforming loans and/or other problematic exposures, or (2) the bank's funding profile becoming more reliant on market funding.

Ibercaja's deposit ratings could also be affected by changes in the liability structure that indicate a higher loss given failure to be faced by deposits.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

Issuer: Ibercaja Banco SA

..Affirmations:

....Long-term Counterparty Risk Rating (Local Currency), affirmed Ba2

....Long-term Bank Deposits (Local and Foreign Currency), affirmed Ba3, outlook changed to Positive from Stable

....Long-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, affirmed Ba1(cr)

....Baseline Credit Assessment, affirmed ba3

....Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, affirmed ba3

....Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture (Local Currency), affirmed B1

..Assignments:

....Long-term Counterparty Risk Rating (Foreign Currency), assigned Ba2

....Short-term Counterparty Risk Rating (Foreign Currency), assigned NP

..Outlook Actions:

....Outlook changed to Positive from Stable

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Banks published in August 2018. Please see the Rating 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
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

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

No Related Data.
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