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Rating Action:

Moody's affirms ratings of LBB at A1 and Berlin Hyp at A2; outlook negative

22 Jan 2015

Ratings affirmation follows spin-off of Berlin Hyp from LBB, outlook on standalone assessments now stable

Frankfurt am Main, January 22, 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service has today affirmed the long-term senior ratings of Landesbank Berlin AG (LBB) at A1 and of Berlin Hyp AG (Berlin Hyp) at A2 following the re-organisation within the wider Landesbank Berlin Holding group (LBBH, unrated). The outlook on both banks' senior long-term ratings remains negative.

Concurrently, to reflect LBB's progress during the transition phase of the reorganisation and its reduced vulnerability to tail risks, Moody's affirmed LBB's D+ standalone bank financial strength rating (BFSR), equivalent to a baseline credit assessment (BCA) of ba1 and changed the outlook on the BFSR to stable from negative. Further, Berlin Hyp's BFSR of D (BCA of ba2) was affirmed with stable outlook.

LBB and Berlin Hyp are currently undergoing a strategic realignment and repositioning of their business activities. As a result, Berlin Hyp -- previously a fully owned subsidiary of LBB -- was spun-off from its parent while both banks remain under the ownership of LBBH as of 1 January 2015. LBB will continue to be scaled back to comprise core retail and corporate banking activities, thereby conducting most of its business activities under the Berliner Sparkasse brand.

For a detailed list of the affected ratings, refer to the end of the press release.

Backed ratings, supported by a deficiency guarantee provided by Land of Berlin (Aa1, stable) are unaffected by today's rating action.

RATINGS RATIONALE

- LONG-TERM RATINGS REFLECT INTEGRATION INTO GERMANY'S PUBLIC BANKS SECTOR AND DECLINING SYSTEMIC SUPPORT CONSIDERATIONS

The affirmed long-term senior ratings of LBB at A1 and those of Berlin Hyp at A2 are underpinned by (1) the banks' unchanged standalone credit profiles; as well as (2) the rating agency's assumptions of a very high probability of external support that would be forthcoming in the event of need. Moody's bases its view on the fact that both banks - as members of the sector of public banks - benefit from multiple sources of support, primarily through the direct ownership of the German Savings Banks Association (Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe or S-Finanzgruppe: corporate family rating Aa2 negative; BFSR C+/BCA a2). As a result, both banks receive a six-notch uplift from their BCAs of ba1 and ba2, respectively.

The outlook on the banks' long-term senior ratings is negative reflecting the adoption of the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) and the Single Resolution Mechanism (SRM) regulation in the EU which has been transposed into legislation in Germany as of January 2015. Although Moody's support assumptions are unchanged for now, the probability has risen that they will be revised downwards to reflect the new framework.

- LBB's STANDALONE FINANCIAL PROFILE BENEFITS FROM THE SPIN-OFF OF ITS FORMER SUBSIDIARY BERLIN HYP, THEREBY REDUCING TAIL RISK

LBB's D+ BFSR was affirmed and the outlook was changed to stable from negative to reflect the bank's progress during the transition phase of the reorganisation and improved capital resilience following the spin-off of Berlin Hyp.

The ba1 BCA is based on the bank's substantial -- but not fully exploited -- retail and SME franchises, its adequate funding and liquidity profile, as well as its moderate financial fundamentals. The pressure on capitalisation levels under an adverse scenario has declined substantially in Moody's view, as the banking activities that remain post-reorganisation are less sensitive to economic downturns. The spin-off of Berlin Hyp reduces LBB's vulnerability to tail risks significantly, as the exposure to higher-risk commercial real-estate business has lessened. However, the BFSR is constrained by (1) the challenges the bank faces during the current transition, which further limit its modest capital generation capacity; and (2) the bank's low and volatile profitability.

- BERLIN HYP'S STANDALONE FINANCIAL PROFILE UNAFFECTED BY SPIN-OFF

The affirmation of Berlin Hyp's BFSR of D (BCA ba2) with stable outlook derives from the bank's unchanged financial metrics such as capitalisation, asset quality and funding, as well as its business profile as a monoline commercial real-estate and public-sector financier after its spin-off from LBB. The bank has a well-established franchise in domestic and international commercial real-estate and robust asset quality, which is supported by the gradual reduction of the non-performing loan portfolio. However, Moody's notes that the bank's high balance-sheet leverage is a constraining factor for its BCA. At year-end 2013, Berlin Hyp's balance-sheet leverage ratio was low at 2.5% and the bank will have to strengthen its capital or de-lever to be able to meet future regulatory thresholds. Berlin Hyp's standalone credit profile is further constrained by high business-model induced risk concentrations in its cyclical commercial real-estate lending business, potentially causing larger credit losses under an adverse economic scenario.

SUBDEBT OF BOTH ENTITIES BENEFIT FROM CROSS-SECTOR LIABILITY SCHEME

LBB's subordinated debt, affirmed at Baa3, now carries a stable outlook, in line with the outlook of the BFSR. Berlin Hyp's subordinated debt program rating was affirmed at (P) Ba1. The subordinated debt rating is one notch below the banks' adjusted BCAs of baa2 (LBB) and baa3 (Berlin Hyp).

The adjusted BCAs, positioned two notches above the bank's standalone BCA's of ba1 (LBB) and ba2 (Berlin Hyp), serve as the anchor rating for subordinated debt instruments and reflects Moody's estimate of support that is likely to be made available as "going-concern support". This principally applies to support from the cross-sector joint liability scheme (Haftungsverbund), which Moody's believes is available for the benefit of all classes of debt.

WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATING UP/DOWN

Upward pressure on both entities' long-term senior ratings is unlikely, as indicated by the negative outlook. Those ratings could come under downward pressure as a result of (1) a downgrade of the BFSRs; (2) a deterioration in the commercial and financial profile of S-Group or a change in ownership (albeit unlikely), which could lead Moody's to revisit its very high support assumptions; or (3) a re-assessment of Moody's systemic support assumptions.

Upward pressure on LBB's BFSR could develop if the bank demonstrates a sustainable improvement in its financial metrics, including capitalisation and profitability. A downgrade of LBB's standalone BFSR could be prompted by (1) a halt or reversal in the recently improving trend in its capitalisation; or (2) a period of extended earnings pressure during the restructuring period. The aforementioned conditions for a lowering of the BFSR include restructuring charges affecting the bank's capitalisation.

Upward pressure on Berlin Hyp's standalone BCA could develop as a result of (1) an improvement in the bank's leverage ratios, particularly through increased leeway to retain earnings and/or (2) a reduction in short-term interbank funding, resulting in a more balanced liability maturity profile. Downward pressure on Berlin Hyp's standalone BFSR could develop as a result of (1) a material erosion in Berlin Hyp's asset quality; (2) a deterioration in its risk-adjusted capitalisation; (3) a sustained weakening of its recurring earnings power and operating efficiency; and/or (4) an increase in the bank's risk appetite with regards to its commercial real-estate lending.

FULL LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

Landesbank Berlin AG

-- Bank Deposit Ratings -- Affirmed at A1, outlook negative, P-1

- Issuer Ratings -- Affirmed at A1, outlook negative

- Senior Unsecured Ratings -- Affirmed at A1, outlook negative

- Other Short-Term Ratings -- Affirmed at (P)P-1

- Subordinated Debt Ratings -- Affirmed at Baa3, outlook changed to stable from negative

- BFSR -- Affirmed at D+ (mapping to a ba1 BCA), outlook changed to stable from negative

Berliner Sparkasse (branch of LBB)

-- Bank Deposit Ratings -- Affirmed at A1, outlook negative, P-1

- Issuer Ratings -- Affirmed at A1, outlook negative

Berlin Hyp AG

- Bank Deposit Ratings -- Affirmed at A2, outlook negative, P-1

- Senior Unsecured Ratings -- Affirmed at A2, outlook negative

- Subordinated MTN Ratings -- Affirmed at (P) Ba1;

- BFSR -- Affirmed at D (mapping to a ba2 BCA), outlook stable

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Global Banks published in July 2014. Please see the Credit Policy 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 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.

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.

Andrea Wehmeier
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
An der Welle 5
Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

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

Releasing Office:
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
An der Welle 5
Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's affirms ratings of LBB at A1 and Berlin Hyp at A2; outlook negative
No Related Data.
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