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Rating Action:

Moody's affirms ratings of Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank at Baa2; all outlooks remain stable

07 Nov 2013

Singapore, November 07, 2013 -- Moody's Investors Service has affirmed the senior unsecured debt and local currency deposit ratings of Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank at Baa2.

At the same time, Moody's has affirmed each bank's D+ financial strength rating, which is equivalent to a baseline credit assessment (BCA) of baa3.

The outlook for all the above ratings is stable.

RATINGS RATIONALE

Moody's decision to affirm the ratings of Axis , HDFC and ICICI reflects the banks' relatively strong asset quality, which benefits from diversification into the retail sector. While we expect these banks to experience marginal weakness in their corporate exposures, due to the current slowdown in India's economy, their strong profitability and capital buffers should provide a basis for sustained credit quality through the current cycle.

In contrast to most public sector banks, the three banks benefit from significant exposures to retail assets, due to their well-developed retail franchises and product offerings. Asset quality in the retail segment has not weakened during the recent economic stresses since Axis, HDFC and ICICI tightened underwriting standards after losses during 2008-10.

Growth for the three banks has been driven by secured lending products like mortgages and auto loans, or mortgage-linked assets in the case of HDFC. Domestic consumption in India is also stable, as employment has not weakened, despite weakness in the economy.

The diversity in the operations of the three banks has led to them benefitting from a lower stock of non-performing loans (NPL) and restructured loans compared to public sector banks. As of June 2013, the banks' NPL ratios ranged from 1.0% to 3.2%, compared to a weighted average for our rated banks of 3.8%.

At the same time, restructured loans for Axis, HDFC and ICICI ranged from 0.2% to 2.1%, compared to a weighted average for our rated banks of 5.3%. In addition, the restructured loans for the three banks were spread across a wider range of sectors than those of public banks.

For the year ending March 2013, net new NPL formation -- defined as new NPLs, less recoveries and upgrades, as a percent of average loans -- for Axis, HDFC and ICICI ranged from 0.6% to 0.8%, compared to 1.6% to 2.0% for the largest public sector banks.

Furthermore, Axis, HDFC and ICICI have benefitted from their portfolio of larger corporate clients, a segment where credit quality has yet to weaken significantly. Moreover, unlike public sector banks, Axis, HDFC and ICICI have had better credit selection and monitoring of its exposures to mid-sized corporates, and have better asset quality experience in this segment relative to public sector banks.

However, India's corporate sector carries historically high levels of leverage, and we expect incremental weakness in corporate asset quality due to cyclical factors. Such weakness will intensify if economic recovery is delayed or weak.

In addition, Axis and ICICI have some exposure to infrastructure lending, although their exposures are at lower levels than for public sector banks. These exposures could generate negative surprises, as significant structural issues remain.

For HDFC in particular, we believe the bank has a much higher proportion of retail loans than the other two banks. It also has a much higher proportion of working capital loans in terms of large corporates and a much lower proportion of loans to the infrastructure sector.

Overall, Axis, HDFC and ICICI have sufficient buffers to absorb incremental weaknesses in asset quality. Each bank generates sound pre-provision income (PPI), with adjusted PPI as a percentage of risk weighted assets ranging from 2.7% to 3.6%, levels which provide sufficient cushion to absorb higher credit costs if their asset quality weakens. In addition, loan loss coverage is adequate, ranging from 70% to 80% as of March 2013, or 94% to 124% if standard asset provisioning is included.

Axis, HDFC and ICICI also have sound levels of capitalization. In contrast to public sector banks, their Tier 1 ratios were between 11.1% and 12.8% as of 31 March 2013. Moreover, they can generate sufficient internal capital to sustain current levels of capitalization.

We also expect Axis, HDFC and ICICI to have access to the public markets, if additional capital is required.

AXIS BANK

What could change the rating up:

* An upgrade of the baa3 BCA or the Baa2 supported rating is unlikely unless there is a revision to the Indian sovereign rating.

What could change the rating down:

* A sustained deterioration in impaired loans or loan loss reserves, or a rate of new NPL formation significantly higher than previously experienced.

* A decline in earnings leading to a significant decrease in internal capital generation.

* Any negative rating actions in relation to the sovereign's ratings or outlook could also affect the bank's deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings and their associated outlooks.

HDFC BANK

What could change the rating up:

* An upgrade of the baa3 BCA or the Baa2 supported rating is unlikely unless there is a revision to the Indian sovereign rating.

What could change the rating down:

* A sustained deterioration in impaired loans or loan loss reserves, or a rate of new NPL formation significantly higher than previously experienced.

* A decline in earnings leading to a significant decrease in internal capital generation.

* Any negative rating actions in relation to the sovereign's ratings or outlook could also affect the bank's deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings and their associated outlooks.

ICICI BANK

What could change the rating up:

* An upgrade of the baa3 BCA or the Baa2 supported rating is unlikely unless there is a revision to the Indian sovereign rating.

What could change the rating down:

* A sustained deterioration in impaired loans or loan loss reserves, or a rate of new NPL formation significantly higher than previously experienced.

* A decline in earnings leading to a significant decrease in internal capital generation.

* Any negative rating actions in relation to the sovereign's ratings or outlook could also affect the bank's deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings and their associated outlooks.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Global Banks published in May 2013. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

All three banks are headquartered in Mumbai, India and reported following total unconsolidated assets as of 30 September 2013: Axis Bank INR3.51 trillion; HDFC Bank INR4.31 trillion; and ICICI Bank Limited INR5.64 trillion.

AFFIRMED RATINGS

The full list of ratings for Axis Bank Ltd are:

- Bank Financial Strength Rating / Baseline Credit Assessment: D+/baa3

- Long-Term / Short-Term Bank Deposit Rating (Foreign Currency): Baa3/P-3

- Long-Term / Short-Term Bank Deposit Rating (Local Currency): Baa2/P-2

The rating of Axis Bank Limited, DIFC branch are:

- Senior Unsecured Debt Rating (Foreign Currency): Baa2

- Senior Unsecured MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Baa2

- Subordinate MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba1

- Junior Subordinated MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba2

- Other Short Term Rating (Foreign Currency): (P)P-2

The rating of Axis Bank Limited, Hong Kong branch are:

- Senior Unsecured MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Baa2

- Subordinate MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba1

- Junior Subordinated MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba2

- Other Short Term Rating (Foreign Currency): (P)P-2

The rating of Axis Bank Limited, Singapore branch are:

- Senior Unsecured MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Baa2

- Subordinate MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba1

- Junior Subordinate Debt Rating (Foreign Currency): Ba2 (hyb)

- Junior Subordinated MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba2

- Pref. Stock Non-Cumulative: Ba3 (hyb)

The full list of ratings for HDFC Bank Limited are:

- Bank Financial Strength Rating / Baseline Credit Assessment: D+/baa3

- Long-Term / Short-Term Bank Deposit Rating (Foreign Currency): Baa3/P-3

- Long-Term / Short-Term Bank Deposit Rating (Local Currency): Baa2/P-2

- Senior Unsecured MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Baa2

- Subordinate MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba1

- Junior Subordinated MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba2

The rating of HDFC Bank Limited, Bahrain branch are:

- Senior Unsecured Debt Rating (Foreign Currency): Baa2

- Senior Unsecured MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Baa2

- Subordinate MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba1

- Junior Subordinated MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba2

The rating of HDFC Bank Limited, Hong Kong branch are:

- Senior Unsecured MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Baa2

- Subordinate MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba1

- Junior Subordinated MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba2

The full list of ratings for ICICI Bank Limited are:

- Bank Financial Strength Rating / Baseline Credit Assessment: D+/baa3

- Long-Term / Short-Term Bank Deposit Rating (Foreign Currency): Baa3/P-3

- Long-Term / Short-Term Bank Deposit Rating (Local Currency): Baa2/P-2

- Senior Unsecured MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Baa2

- Subordinate MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba1

- Junior Subordinated MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba2

The rating of ICICI Bank Limited, Hong Kong branch, are:

- CD Programme (Foreign Currency): (P)Baa3/(P)P-3

- Drawdown from CD Programme (Foreign Currency): Baa3

- Senior Unsecured Debt Rating (Foreign Currency): Baa2

- Senior Unsecured MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Baa2

- Subordinate MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba1

- Junior Subordinated MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba2

The rating of ICICI Bank Limited, Singapore branch, are:

- Senior Unsecured Debt Rating (Foreign Currency): Baa2

- Senior Unsecured MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Baa2

- Subordinate MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba1

The rating of ICICI Bank Limited, Dubai branch, are:

- Senior Unsecured Debt Rating (Foreign Currency): Baa2

- Senior Unsecured MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Baa2

- Subordinate MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba1

- Junior Subordinated MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba2

The rating of ICICI Bank Limited, Bahrain branch, are:

- Senior Unsecured Debt Rating (Foreign Currency): Baa2

- Senior Unsecured MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Baa2

- Subordinate MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba1

- Junior Subordinate Debt Rating (Foreign Currency): Ba2(hyb)

- Junior Subordinated MTN (Foreign Currency): (P)Ba2

- Pref. Stock Non-Cumulative: Ba3(hyb)

The rating of ICICI Bank Limited, New York branch, are:

- Senior Unsecured MTN (Local Currency): (P)Baa2

- Subordinate MTN (Local Currency): (P)Ba1

- Junior Subordinated MTN (Local Currency): (P)Ba2

All ratings have a stable outlook.

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 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.

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.

The below contact information is provided for information purposes only. Please see the ratings tab of the issuer page at www.moodys.com, for each of the ratings covered, Moody's disclosures on the lead analyst and the Moody's legal entity that has issued the ratings.

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.

Gene Fang
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Singapore Pte. Ltd.
50 Raffles Place #23-06
Singapore Land Tower
Singapore 48623
Singapore
JOURNALISTS: (852) 3758 -1350
SUBSCRIBERS: (65) 6398-8308

Stephen Long
MD - Financial Institutions
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: (852) 3758 -1350
SUBSCRIBERS: (852) 3551-3077

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Singapore Pte. Ltd.
50 Raffles Place #23-06
Singapore Land Tower
Singapore 48623
Singapore
JOURNALISTS: (852) 3758 -1350
SUBSCRIBERS: (65) 6398-8308

Moody's affirms ratings of Axis Bank, HDFC Bank and ICICI Bank at Baa2; all outlooks remain stable
No Related Data.
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