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Rating Action:

Moody's affirms five Tunisian banks' ratings; changes outlooks to negative for four of the banks

24 Nov 2016

Bank rating actions follow the affirmation of the Tunisian sovereign rating and change of its outlook to negative from stable

Limassol, November 24, 2016 -- Moody's Investors Service ("Moody's") has today affirmed and changed the outlooks to negative from stable on the local-currency deposit ratings of Amen Bank (Amen, B1), Banque de Tunisie (BdT, Ba3); Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie (BIAT, Ba3) and Société Tunisienne de Banque (STB, B1). Concurrently, Moody's affirmed the Local currency deposit rating of Arab Tunisian Bank (ATB, Ba3), the outlook remains stable. Moody's also affirmed the foreign-currency deposit ratings for the five banks.

The negative outlook on the four Tunisian banks' deposit ratings is primarily driven by the rating agency's assessment that the Tunisian government's capacity to support the banks is deteriorating, indicated by worsening fiscal deficit and debt trajectory and signalled by Moody's recent decision to change the outlook on Tunisia's government bond rating to negative from stable. As a result, the four Tunisian banks' deposit ratings, which incorporate government support uplift from their baseline credit assessment (BCA), could be reduced. Moody's decision to maintain a stable outlook on ATB's ratings reflects the absence of government support uplift from the bank's adjusted BCA and therefore resilience of ATB's ratings to a reduction in the government's capacity to support banks in case of need. However, in line with other banks, ATB's B1 long-term foreign-currency deposit ratings could reduce if Moody's reduces its B1 country ceiling on foreign-currency bank deposits for Tunisia.

The decision to affirm the ratings reflects the rating agency's view that (1) despite our expectation that challenges in the operating environment will be sustained over the next 12 to 18 months, the banks' credit profiles, including asset-quality metrics and loss-absorption buffers, will remain broadly stable at currently weak levels over the next 12-to-18 months; and (2) there is a very high probability that the government would have the willingness to extend support to the banking sector, in case of need.

Please refer to "Moody's Investors Service changes the outlook on Tunisia's Ba3 rating to negative from stable; affirms rating" published on 22 November 2016, for more information on the sovereign rating action please see https://www.moodys.com/research/--PR_358325.

A list of affected ratings is provided at the end of this press release.

RATINGS RATIONALE

NEGATIVE OUTLOOK ON DEPOSIT RATINGS FOR FOUR BANKS, STABLE OUTLOOK FOR ATB

The negative outlook on the deposit ratings of four Tunisian banks reflects Moody's view of a deterioration in the government's capacity to provide support to the banks if needed, even if its willingness to support remains unchanged. This action is in line with the negative outlook assigned to Tunisia's Ba3 sovereign rating.

The four banks' deposit ratings incorporate a government support uplift on top of the banks' baseline credit assessment (BCA), based on Moody's assessment of a very high probability of government support in case of need in Tunisia. Even if the government's willingness to support banks remains unchanged, heightened fiscal pressures reduce the government's capacity to support the banks.

The stable outlook assigned to ATB's Ba3 long-term local currency deposit rating is driven by the absence of any government support uplift incorporated in the ratings. Although we also assume a very high probability of government support for the bank, ATB's adjusted BCA of ba3, which includes one notch of affiliate support from its foreign parent Arab Bank PLC (Foreign deposits B2 stable, BCA ba2), is already at the level of the Tunisian sovereign rating. However, in line with other Tunisian banks, ATB's B1 long-term foreign-currency deposit ratings could reduce if Moody's revises down Tunisia's B1 country ceiling on foreign-currency bank deposits, which reflects the risk that the government would freeze foreign-currency deposits during a crisis to conserve scarce foreign-currency resources.

The key drivers for the decision to change the outlook on the sovereign rating to negative from stable are: (1) continuing delays towards the path of fiscal consolidation which leads to a worsening fiscal deficit and debt/GDP trajectory, indicated by the complementary budget law for 2016 and the draft budget law for 2017, that deviates increasingly from the median of Ba-rated peers; and (2) increasing external vulnerabilities stemming from persistent external imbalances and an increase in the external debt stock.

RATINGS AFFIRMATIONS

Moody's decision to affirm the banks' ratings reflects the rating agency's view that (1) the banks' credit profiles will remain broadly stable, at weak levels, over the next 12-to-18 months, capturing already difficult credit and liquidity conditions in a challenging operating environment, reflected in a "Weak-" Macro Profile; and (2) Moody's view of a very high probability that government will have the willingness to support banks in case of need.

- BANK SPECIFIC DRIVERS

- Amen Bank

Moody's has affirmed Amen Bank's B1 deposit ratings. This is based on a b3 baseline credit assessment (BCA), which reflects the bank's sustained asset quality pressure due to a difficult operating environment, adversely affected by relatively low economic growth. In addition, Moody's also notes that the bank's net profitability will continue being pressured by high cost of funding and increased loan-loss provisioning costs over the next 12 to 18 months. The bank's BCA is also driven by relatively weak loss-absorbing buffers (tangible common equity at 9.8% of risk weighted assets as of June 2016) and tight liquidity and funding profile, with a loan-to-deposit ratio at 114% at June 2016.

The B1 ratings also incorporate two notches of uplift from its BCA, based on Moody's assessment of a very high probability of government support in case of need, given Amen's systemic importance with a market share of around 11% of deposits in Tunisia.

- Arab Tunisian Bank

Moody's has affirmed ATB's Ba3 local-currency and B1 foreign-currency deposit ratings. This is based on a b1 BCA, reflecting Moody's view that pressure on funding costs amid intense competition for deposits in Tunisia and a relatively high cost of risk will constrain the bank's profitability. The BCA also factors the bank's satisfactory capital buffers that are above the Tunisian average and partly mitigate the bank's high levels of asset concentration. In addition, Moody's notes the bank's good liquidity buffers (liquid assets at 24.7% of total assets as of June 2016) supported by a stable deposit funding base and a moderate leverage compared to domestic peers.

The Ba3 local-currency deposit rating incorporates one notch of parental uplift, based on Moody's assessment of a moderate probability of parental support from Arab bank PLC (Foreign deposits B2 stable, BCA ba2), the bank's 64% shareholder. The local-currency deposit rating does not incorporate any government support uplift, as it is already at the government rating level.

- Banque de Tunisie

Moody's has affirmed BdT's Ba3 local-currency and B1 foreign-currency deposit ratings. This is based on BdT's b1 BCA reflecting sound capital buffers (tangible common equity stood at 14.04% of risk-weighted assets as of June 2016) and prudent risk management compared with other Tunisian banks, which benefits from the close cooperation with its shareholder Banque Federative du Credit Mutuel (deposits Aa3, stable, BCA baa1). These strengths are moderated by the bank's still high asset quality pressure (non-performing loans decreased to 9.4% of gross loans as of June 2016, versus 9.8% at year-end 2015) on profitability and a funding structure increasingly reliant on recourse to central bank (the bank's loan-to-deposit ratio was 122% as of June 2016, stable from 2015).

The local-currency deposit rating also incorporates one notch of uplift from BdT's BCA based on Moody's assessment of a very high probability of government support in case of need, given BdT's market share of around 6% of deposits.

- Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie

Moody's has affirmed BIAT'S Ba3 local-currency and B1 foreign-currency deposit ratings. BIAT's b2 BCA reflects its solid and above system average profitability metrics (net income-to-tangible assets ratio at 1.6% as of June 2016), that benefit high loan growth, improved efficiency and diversified sources of revenues, despite pressured net interest margins and cost of risk pressures. The bank's BCA also incorporates Moody's view of relatively weak asset quality metrics (non-performing loans represented 7.2% of gross loans as of June 2016) alongside limited loss absorption buffers with a ratio of tangible common equity-to-risk weighted assets at 8.5% as of June 2016. The BCA also reflects the bank's good liquidity buffers underpinned by its market position as Tunisia's leading private bank, which translates into a strong deposit-gathering ability and ample reserves of liquid assets.

The local-currency deposit rating also incorporates two notches of uplift from BIAT's BCA based on Moody's assessment of a very high probability of government support in case of need, given BIAT's importance with a market share of around 16% of deposits.

- Société Tunisienne de Banque

Moody's has affirmed STB's B1 deposit ratings. The bank's BCA of caa3 reflects its very high level of problem loans (around 30% of NPLs as of December 2015), driven by historically weak underwriting standards and concentrated exposure to the tourism sector. The BCA also factors low profitability (1.0% net income-to-tangible assets ratio as of June 2016) and weak loss-absorption capacity (Tier 1 ratio of 9.1% as of year-end 2015), despite the bank's recent recapitalisation, and a challenged deposit base (loan to deposit ratio of 101% at June 2016) and low liquidity buffers. Finally the BCA incorporates Moody's assessment of weak internal audit and reporting systems, as highlighted by the reservations cited by external auditors in full-year financial reports over recent years, a weakness which is being gradually resolved by the bank's restructuring.

The deposit ratings incorporate five notches of uplift from STB's BCA, based on Moody's assessment of a very high probability of government support in case of need, given STB's importance to the Tunisian financial system as one of the three public-sector banks with a market share of around 11% of deposits and the 83.4% direct and indirect ownership by the Tunisian government.

WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

Although not anticipated, upward rating pressure on the ratings could develop following sustained improvements in the operating conditions and the sovereign rating. This would also be conditioned by a material improvement in asset quality buffers and a reduction in provisioning requirements for STB, and an increase in loss-absorptions buffers and reduction in problem loans for Amen Bank.

Downward rating pressure on the ratings could develop following a deterioration in the operating environment or a downgrade of the sovereign rating, signalling a reduction in the government's capacity to support banks in case of need. Negative pressure on the banks' BCAs could also develop from greater-than-expected weakening in their asset quality, profitability, capital adequacy and/or liquidity profile.

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

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

Affirmations:

..Issuer: Amen Bank

.... LT Bank Deposits (Foreign Currency and Local Currency), Affirmed B1 Negative From Stable

.... ST Bank Deposits (Foreign Currency and Local Currency), Affirmed NP

.... Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed b3

.... Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed b3

.... Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed Ba3(cr)

.... Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed NP(cr)

..Issuer: Arab Tunisian Bank

.... LT Bank Deposits (Foreign Currency), Affirmed B1 Stable

.... LT Bank Deposits (Local Currency), Affirmed Ba3 Stable

.... ST Bank Deposits (Foreign Currency and Local Currency), Affirmed NP

.... Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed ba3

.... Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed b1

.... Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed Ba2(cr)

.... Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed NP(cr)

..Issuer: Banque de Tunisie

.... LT Bank Deposits (Foreign Currency), Affirmed B1 Negative From Stable

.... LT Bank Deposits (Local Currency), Affirmed Ba3 Negative From Stable

.... ST Bank Deposits (Foreign Currency and Local Currency), Affirmed NP

.... Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed b1

.... Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed b1

.... Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed Ba3(cr)

.... Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed NP(cr)

..Issuer: Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie

.... LT Bank Deposits (Foreign Currency), Affirmed B1 Negative From Stable

.... LT Bank Deposits (Local Currency), Affirmed Ba3 Negative From Stable

.... ST Bank Deposits (Foreign Currency and Local Currency), Affirmed NP

.... Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed b2

.... Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed b2

.... Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed Ba3(cr)

.... Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed NP(cr)

..Issuer: Societe Tunisienne de Banque

.... LT Bank Deposits (Foreign Currency and Local Currency), Affirmed B1 Negative From Stable

.... ST Bank Deposits (Foreign Currency and Local Currency), Affirmed NP

.... Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed caa3

.... Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed caa3

.... Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed Ba3(cr)

.... Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed NP(cr)

Outlook Actions:

..Issuer: Amen Bank

....Outlook, Changed To Negative From Stable

..Issuer: Arab Tunisian Bank

....Outlook, Remains Stable

..Issuer: Banque de Tunisie

....Outlook, Changed To Negative From Stable

..Issuer: Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie

....Outlook, Changed To Negative From Stable

..Issuer: Societe Tunisienne de Banque

....Outlook, Changed To Negative From Stable

The Local Market analyst for these ratings is Olivier Panis, +971.4.2379.533.

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.

Moody's considers a rated entity or its agent(s) to be participating when it maintains an overall relationship with Moody's. On this basis Amen Bank, Arab Tunisian Bank and Banque de Tunisie or their agents are considered to be participating entities. These rated entities or their agents generally provide Moody's with information for their ratings process.

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.

Melina Skouridou, CFA
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Cyprus Ltd.
Porto Bello Building
1, Siafi Street, 3042 Limassol
PO Box 53205
Limassol CY 3301
Cyprus
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Sean Marion
MD - Financial Institutions
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Cyprus Ltd.
Porto Bello Building
1, Siafi Street, 3042 Limassol
PO Box 53205
Limassol CY 3301
Cyprus
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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