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Rating Action:

Moody's affirms deposit ratings of National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank; changes outlook on First Gulf Bank's deposit ratings to positive

04 Jul 2016

London, 04 July 2016 -- Moody's Investors Service has today affirmed the deposit ratings of National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) at Aa3/P-1 and those of First Gulf Bank (FGB) at A2/P-1. At the same time, Moody's has also affirmed their baseline credit assessment (BCA) at a3 and baa2, respectively. In addition, the outlook on FGB's long-term ratings was changed to positive from stable. The outlook on NBAD's long-term ratings remain negative, in line with the negative outlook assigned to the Government of Abu Dhabi.

Today's rating action follows the official public announcement on 3 July 2016 that the banks have entered into a merger agreement. The merger remains subject to regulatory and shareholder approval and is expected to complete by Q1 2017. Upon completion, NBAD will remain and acquire all of FGB's liabilities and assets in exchange for new NBAD shares issued to FGB's shareholders.

NBAD's a3 BCA affirmation reflects Moody's view that this merger upon completion will: (1) deliver high quality retail diversification to the bank's wholesale-focussed loan book; (2) improve core profitability; (3) improve the capital base; (4) reduce both loan and deposit concentrations; and (5) create the largest bank in the GCC by asset (approximately around $170 billion of assets), which should support further organic expansion of the business.

FGB's baa2 BCA affirmation reflects Moody's view that the bank's operations and standalone profile are not expected to change significantly until the merger is completed.

The change of outlook to positive on FGB's long-term ratings is driven by Moody's view that the merger will be beneficial for FGB's depositors and senior creditors as they will be transferred to NBAD, a fundamentally stronger entity. Upon completion of merger, when all liabilities are transferred to NBAD, it is expected that the ratings on FGB will be withdrawn.

A full list of affected ratings is included at the end of the press release.

RATINGS RATIONALE

NBAD

BCA AFFIRMATION

-- GREATER BUSINESS DIVERSIFICATION EXPECTED

Moody's affirmation of NBAD's a3 BCA reflects our view that the proposed merger will enhance the bank's domestic franchise. The addition of FGB's larger domestic retail business will complement both NBAD's international business and its well-established domestic wholesale franchise. As such, we expect that the combination will create the largest bank in the Gulf, which will support organic growth opportunities and moderate NBAD's very high borrower concentrations.

-- IMPROVED PROFITABILITY AND CAPITALISATION EXPECTED

We expect the stronger retail franchise to drive solid margins, which will support NBAD's improved profitability going forward. Moody's expects that the pro-forma combined entity net interest margin (NIM) will be around 2.1%, up from NBAD's current NIM of around 1.8% for first three months of 2016. Consequently, the merged entity's net income to tangible assets will also improve to around 1.6% from NBAD's current 1.2%, putting it in line with the UAE average of around 1.7% and higher than the 0.8%% median of global banks with an a3 BCA.

NBAD has solid capitalization metrics as exhibited by the tangible common equity-to-risk weighted assets ratio (TCE ratio) of around 12.8% at March 2016, a level which has remained broadly stable since 2013. Following the merger, we expect that the bank will benefit from FGB's higher capitalization levels (TCE ratio of 14.6% as of March 2016) and stronger internal capital generation ability. On a pro-forma basis as of March 2016, the TCE ratio of the combined entity will be around 14%, which will be in line with both the UAE average and the global median for a3 rated banks.

-- VERY HIGH GOVERNMENT SUPPORT LEVELS MAINTAINED

Moody's affirmation of NBAD's Aa3 deposit rating is based on continued very high government support assumptions for the bank, which translates into three notches of uplift from the bank's a3 BCA. Although government ownership (through the Abu Dhabi Investment Council -- 'ADIC') will be reduced to 33% from the current 70% levels, we continue to assess the likelihood of government support for NBAD as Very High.

Our view is based on: (1) the systemic importance of the merged entity to the UAE banking system (expected market share of around 25% of the system assets); (2) the key role of the bank in the financial operations of the Abu Dhabi government; (3) the position of the Abu Dhabi government as the single largest shareholder through both the Abu Dhabi Investment Council (around 33.6% ownership) and Mubadala Development Company PJSC (4%); and (4) the significant ownership by members of the Abu Dhabi ruling family (around 32.8%).

The continuing negative outlook mirrors the negative outlook on the rating of the Abu Dhabi Government (assigned on 14 May 2016) and captures UAE's fiscal pressures as a result of lower oil prices, which may weaken its capacity to provide support over time.

FGB

BCA AFFIRMATION

Moody's affirmation of FGB's baa2 BCA reflects Moody's view that the bank's operations and standalone profile will not change significantly until the merger is completed. Upon completion of merger, when all liabilities are transferred to NBAD, it is expected that the ratings on the bank will be withdrawn.

FGB's standalone rating is supported by: (1) strong and growing domestic operations in the UAE; (2) solid profitability combined with high efficiency; (3) strong capitalization metrics and high loan loss coverage levels; and (4) solid asset quality metrics. However, the ratings are moderated by the bank's significant borrower and deposit concentrations, as well as a relatively high credit growth.

GOVERNMENT SUPPORT AND RATIONALE FOR OUTLOOK CHANGE

FGB's A2 deposit rating was affirmed and the outlook on it was changed to positive. The A2 deposit rating incorporates three notches of uplift from the bank's baa2 BCA. The uplift reflects our assessment of a very high likelihood of government support in case of need.

The positive outlook on FGB's long-term ratings is driven by Moody's view that the merger will be beneficial for FGB's depositors and senior creditors as they will be transferred to NBAD, an entity with a stronger standalone profile that also benefits from a higher degree of government support for the reasons described above.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING -- UP

Although we do not expect upward pressure on NBAD's ratings over the near term as indicated by the negative outlook, the supported deposit ratings could be stabilized should the government's rating outlook also stabilise.

As indicated by the positive outlook, upward pressure on FGB's long term ratings could develop over the near term from revision of our support assumptions.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING -- DOWN

Downward pressure on NBAD's ratings could develop through any assessment of a weakening of the UAE government's capacity or willingness to provide support in case of need. Downwards pressure on NBAD's BCA could develop in the event of a: (1) deterioration in the operating environment that may impact result in lowering the macro profile of United Arab Emirates; (2) deterioration of capitalisation or asset quality metrics; and/or (3) significant deterioration in liquidity levels and/or increases in confidence sensitive market funding.

Although we do not expect downward pressure on FGB's ratings over the near term as indicated by the positive outlook, downwards pressure on FGB's BCA could develop from: (1) weakening asset quality; or (2) an increase in credit and funding concentration; or (3) deterioration in capitalization and liquidity metrics.

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.

Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, NBAD and FGB have reported total assets of around USD109 billion and USD62 billion as of 31 March 2016, respectively.

The Local Market analyst for this rating is Nitish Bhojnagarwala, +971.4.237.9563.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

National Bank of Abu Dhabi

-- Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed a3

-- Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed a3

-- Short-Term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed P-1(cr)

-- Long-Term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed Aa2(cr)

-- LT Bank Deposits (Local & Foreign Currency), Affirmed Aa3 with negative outlook

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

-- Senior Unsecured (Foreign Currency), Affirmed Aa3 with negative outlook

-- Senior Unsecured MTN (Foreign Currency), Affirmed (P)Aa3

-- Commercial Paper (Local & Foreign Currency), Affirmed P-1

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

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

National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong Branch

-- LT Deposit Note/CD Program (Local & Foreign Currency), Affirmed (P)Aa3

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

National Bank of Abu Dhabi, London Branch

-- LT Deposit Note/CD Program (Local & Foreign Currency), Affirmed (P)Aa3

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

National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Paris Branch

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

First Gulf Bank

-- Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed baa2

-- Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed baa2

-- Short-Term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed P-1(cr)

-- Long-Term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed A1(cr)

-- LT Bank Deposits (Local & Foreign Currency), Affirmed A2, Outlook Changed To Positive From Stable

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

-- Senior Unsecured (Foreign Currency), Affirmed A2, Outlook Changed To Positive From Stable

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

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

-- Commercial Paper (Local & Foreign Currency), Affirmed (P)P-1

First Gulf Bank PJSC, Singapore Branch

-- LT Deposit Note/CD Program (Local & Foreign Currency), Affirmed (P)A2

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

-- Commercial Paper (Local & Foreign Currency), Affirmed (P)P-1

FGB Sukuk Company Limited

-- Backed Senior Unsecured (Foreign Currency), Affirmed A2, Outlook Changed to Positive From Stable

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

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.

Akin Majekodunmi
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Sean Marion
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's affirms deposit ratings of National Bank of Abu Dhabi and First Gulf Bank; changes outlook on First Gulf Bank's deposit ratings to positive
No Related Data.
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