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Rating Action:

Moody's affirms ratings of Banco de Bogotá and BAC following BBVA Panamá acquisition announcement; outlook stable

 The document has been translated in other languages

26 Jul 2013

NOTE: On December 14, 2014, the press release was revised as follows: in the REGULATORY DISCLOSURES section, removed Quality of Information, MIS Ratings Definitions, Rating History and Ratings Opinion and Disclaimer Regarding Liability regulatory disclosure items; corrected releasing office information to Moody's Investors Service, Inc. from Moody's de Mexico S.A. de C.V. Revised release follows.

New York, July 26, 2013 -- Moody's Investors Service today affirmed all ratings of Banco de Bogotá S.A. This includes the C- standalone bank financial strength rating (BFSR) that maps to a baa2 standalone baseline credit assessment (BCA), as well as the bank's long- and short-term local currency deposit ratings of Baa1/Prime-2; long- and short-term foreign currency deposit ratings of Baa3/Prime-3; and foreign currency senior and subordinated debt ratings of Baa2 and Baa3.

Moody's also affirmed all the ratings of BAC International Bank, Inc. (BAC) including the D+ standalone BFSR and baa3 standalone BCA as well as the bank's Baa3 and Prime-3 long- and short-term local and foreign currency deposit ratings.

The rating actions follow the July 19th announcement that Banco de Bogotá would acquire 98.92% of the common equity of Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (Panamá), S.A. (BBVA Panamá, unrated) via its Panamanian subsidiary, Leasing Bogotá S.A. Panamá (Leasing Bogotá). Pending regulatory approvals, the acquisition is expected to be completed during the fourth quarter of 2013. The bank plans to eventually merge the operations of BBVA Panamá with those of BAC in mid-2014. BAC is a 100% subsidiary of Banco de Bogotá.

On July 24th, Grupo Aval Acciones y Valores (Grupo Aval, Baa3 negative), Banco de Bogotá's 66.5% parent holding, announced it intends to capitalize the bank with US$500 million to support the purchase price of $490 million for the BBVA Panamá acquisition pending approval of the bank's shareholders.

The following ratings of Banco de Bogotá were affirmed with a stable outlook:

Bank financial strength Rating of C-

Long term local currency deposit rating of Baa1

Short term local currency deposit rating of Prime-2

Long term foreign currency deposit rating of Baa3

Short term foreign currency deposit rating of Prime-3

Long term foreign currency senior debt rating of Baa2

Long term foreign currency subordinated debt rating of Baa3

The following ratings of BAC were affirmed with a stable outlook:

Bank financial strength rating of D+

Long term local and foreign currency deposit ratings of Baa3

Short term local and foreign currency deposit ratings of Prime-3

RATINGS RATIONALE

In affirming the ratings of Banco de Bogotá and BAC, Moody's said it expects the US$500 million capitalization of Banco de Bogotá announced on July 24th by Grupo Aval to offset the negative pressures on tangible capital originating from the group's second cross-border acquisition announced in less than a month. Moody's added that any delay or failure to capitalize Banco de Bogotá or BAC to support the new acquisition could lead to future negative actions on the banks' ratings. The rating agency said that further acquisition announcements or other events that affect tangible capital ratios could also prompt negative rating actions.

While the rating action acknowledges the benefits to Banco de Bogotá's franchise of a larger presence in the fast growing Panamanian market, the acquisition generates additional goodwill that could weaken the bank's capital ratios absent the capital infusion, in the wake of its acquisition announcement of Grupo Financiero Reformador (Reformador, unrated) of Guatemala through BAC's subsidiary Credomatic International Corporation (unrated) on June 27th (see press release "Moody's: stable outlook on BAC's ratings following Grupo Reformador acquisition announcement," dated 28 June 2013).

Moody's noted that the acquisition of BBVA Panamá will generate substantial goodwill for Banco de Bogotá, in addition to the goodwill associated with the acquisition of BAC in 2010, and most recently, of Reformador, which the rating agency views as weakening the quality of the bank's tangible capital, as it lowers the ability to absorb potential credit losses. Under Moody's scenario analysis and adjusting capital ratios for goodwill and government risk exposures, Banco de Bogotá's tangible capital ratios would be reduced from already low levels without the commitment to capitalize the bank by its main shareholder, Grupo Aval once BBVA Panamá is absorbed by Leasing Bogotá, upon the deal's closing.

In the event Banco de Bogotá carries out its plans to merge BBVA Panamá into BAC Panamá, Moody's indicated that the goodwill related to the BBVA Panamá acquisition will not put further pressure on BAC's capital ratios because it will be offset by an indirect transfer of capital from Leasing Bogotá through its merger with BBVA Panamá. The rating agency also noted that the acquisition of BBVA Panamá will likely not be accretive to BAC's earnings during the first year, given the bank's limited earnings generation. Higher than expected credit and integration costs, including those related to acquiring and merging two new banks of substantial size and in different countries, may also dilute earnings growth in the near term. These effects will be partly mitigated by BAC's historically strong Tier 1 capitalization and solid asset quality and earnings generation.

Moody's highlighted that the acquisition of BBVA Panamá by BAC Panamá makes strategic sense as it is designed to consolidate its presence in one of the bank's key target markets for growth and a business hub for its Central American operations. BAC's loan market shares in Panama are expected to double as the bank combines its existing Panamanian customer base with those of BBVA Panamá.

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

The last rating action on Banco de Bogotá was on 7 February 2013, when Moody's assigned a Baa3 subordinated debt rating to the bank. The last rating action on BAC was on 28 June 2013, when Moody's affirmed all of the bank's ratings with a stable outlook.

Headquartered in Bogotá, Colombia, Banco de Bogotá is the country's second largest bank. As of December 2012, the bank reported total consolidated assets of US$45.5 billion, loans of US$25.7 billion, deposits of US$28.9 billion, and shareholders' equity of US$4.4 billion.

Incorporated in Panama, BAC is one of the largest banking groups in Central America. It is also the largest credit card issuer and merchant acquirer in the region. As of December 2012, the bank reported total assets of US$10.7 billion, loans of US$7.1 billion, deposits of US$7.3 billion, and shareholders' equity of US$1.2 billion. BAC's ultimate holding, BAC Credomatic, Inc., is controlled by Colombia's Grupo Aval through its 66.5% subsidiary, Banco de Bogotá.

Grupo Aval is the largest financial holding group in Colombia, where it holds a combined market share of 28.4% of the banking system's loans as of December 2012, through its majority ownership of Banco de Bogotá, Banco de Occidente S.A., Banco Popular S.A. and Banco AV Villas S.A. Grupo Aval also owns Colombia's largest administrator of mandatory pension funds and severance funds, Sociedad Administradora de Fondos de Pensiones y Cesantías Porvenir, S.A. (AFP Porvenir, unrated) and through Banco de Bogotá, the country's largest merchant bank, Corficolombiana S.A. (unrated).

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.

Felipe Carvallo
Vice President - Senior Analyst
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Maria Celina Vansetti-Hutchins
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Moody's affirms ratings of Banco de Bogotá and BAC following BBVA Panamá acquisition announcement; outlook stable
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