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Rating Action:

Moody's affirms the Ratings of the Five Largest South African Banks following action on the South African sovereign and changes the outlook to negative

05 Nov 2019

London, 05 November 2019 -- Moody's Investors Service ("Moody's") has today affirmed the Baa3 long-term deposit ratings of the five largest South African banks: The Standard Bank of South Africa Limited, FirstRand Bank Limited, ABSA Bank Limited, Nedbank Limited, and Investec Bank Ltd. The rating agency has also affirmed Standard Bank Group Limited and Absa Group Limited's Ba1 long-term issuer ratings, as these remain one notch below the deposit ratings of their main operating companies, on account of the structural subordination of the groups' creditors to those of the main operating companies. A full list of the banks' ratings affected by today's rating action is at the end of this press release. The outlook on the five banks' long-term deposit ratings and the two groups' long-term issuer ratings was changed to negative from stable.

Today's rating action follows Moody's decision to affirm South Africa's issuer rating of Baa3 and change its outlook to negative from stable, on 1 November 2019 (please refer to the press release: Moody's changes South Africa's outlook to negative from stable, affirms Baa3 ratings [https://www.moodys.com/research/--PR_412385]).

The affirmation of the banks' ratings reflects their financial profiles, which have been resilient so far to the continued challenges in South Africa's operating environment. These five large banks benefit from generally robust risk management frameworks and solvency profiles, coupled with improving liquidity metrics.

Moody's has changed to negative from stable the outlook on the five banks' ratings to reflect (1) their sizable holdings of sovereign debt securities and loans, averaging around 177% of their capital bases, as of June 2019, which links their creditworthiness to that of the government and, (2) Moody's view that the difficult operating environment will have negative implications for banks' asset risks and profitability, challenging the resilient performance they have exhibited over the recent past.

RATINGS RATIONALE

-- AFFIRMATION OF BANKS' RATINGS

The affirmation of the banks' ratings captures their resilient financial profiles so far despite South Africa's challenging operating environment. The five South African banks have improved their liquidity metrics and maintained robust risk management frameworks, limiting the negative implications of a persistently low growth environment. Moody's expects banks' profitability and capital metrics to remain stable over the next 12 months. Interest income, their main revenue source, will come under pressure because of lower loan growth, but for some banks, Moody's expects lower operating costs and non-interest income from the adoption of digital platforms to somewhat offset this headwind. In addition, Moody's expects modest loan growth to support banks' capital metrics. Tangible common equity as a percentage of Moody's-adjusted risk-weighted assets will remain relatively resilient, ranging between 11-13% over the next 12 months. Additionally, the five South African banks continue to build up their liquidity buffers. As of August 2019, the average liquidity coverage ratio (high quality liquid assets as percentage of net cash flows over 30 days) for the South African banking system was 148.4%, much higher than the minimum requirement of 100% for 2019.

-- NEGATIVE OUTLOOK REFLECTS SOVEREIGN OUTLOOK AND CONTINUED CHALLENGES IN THE OPERATING ENVIRONMENT

The negative outlook of the banks' ratings is primarily driven by the negative outlook on the South African government's issuer rating given banks' high stocks of government debt securities, held as part of their liquidity requirements, that links their credit profiles to that of the government. The five banks' overall sovereign exposure, including loans to state-related entities, averaged around 177% of their capital bases, as at June 2019. In view of the correlation between sovereign and bank credit risk, the banks' standalone credit profiles and ratings are inevitably constrained by the rating of the government.

Additionally, despite the banks' comprehensive risk management and governance culture, Moody's expects their problem loan ratio to deteriorate over the next year, from their August 2019 average of 3.8%, as the weak economy strains borrower cash flows and makes it more difficult for borrowers to meet their loan obligations.

WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

Any deterioration in the creditworthiness of South Africa would exert downward pressure on the banks' ratings, in view of their sizeable holdings of sovereign debt securities and loans. In addition, the banks' ratings could be downgraded if operating conditions are expected to worsen more than is currently anticipated, leading to significantly higher provisioning costs and loss of earnings beyond the thresholds assumed by the current rating levels.

Conversely, any upwards momentum of the banks' ratings is currently limited as their BCAs are constrained by the sovereign rating.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

..Issuer: ABSA Bank Limited

Affirmations:

.... Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed baa3

.... Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed baa3

.... Long-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed Baa2(cr)

.... Short-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed P-2(cr)

.... Long-term Counterparty Risk Ratings, Affirmed Baa2

.... Short-term Counterparty Risk Ratings, Affirmed P-2

.... NSR Long-term Counterparty Risk Rating, Affirmed Aaa.za

.... NSR Short-term Counterparty Risk Rating, Affirmed P-1.za

.... Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Baa3

.... Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Baa3, Outlook Changed to Negative from Stable

.... Long-term Bank Deposit Ratings, Affirmed Baa3, Outlook Changed to Negative from Stable

.... Short-term Bank Deposit Ratings, Affirmed P-3

.... NSR Long-term Bank Deposit Rating, Affirmed Aa1.za

.... NSR Short-term Bank Deposit Rating, Affirmed P-1.za

Outlook Action:

....Outlook Changed To Negative From Stable

..Issuer: Absa Group Limited

Affirmations:

.... Long-term Issuer Ratings, Affirmed Ba1, Outlook Changed to Negative from Stable

.... Short-term Issuer Ratings, Affirmed NP

.... NSR Long-term Issuer Rating, Affirmed Aa3.za

.... NSR Short-term Issuer Rating, Affirmed P-1.za

.... Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Ba2 (hyb)

Outlook Action:

....Outlook Changed To Negative From Stable

..Issuer: FirstRand Bank Limited

Affirmations:

.... Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed baa3

.... Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed baa3

.... Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-3

.... Long-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed Baa2(cr)

.... Short-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed P-2(cr)

.... Long-term Counterparty Risk Ratings, Affirmed Baa2

.... Short-term Counterparty Risk Ratings, Affirmed P-2

.... NSR Long-term Counterparty Risk Rating, Affirmed Aaa.za

.... NSR Short-term Counterparty Risk Rating, Affirmed P-1.za

.... Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Baa3

.... Subordinate MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Ba2

.... NSR Subordinate MTN Program, Affirmed A1.za

.... Junior Subordinated MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Ba2

.... Other Short Term, Affirmed (P)P-3

.... NSR Junior Subordinate MTN Program, Affirmed A1.za

.... NSR Senior Unsecured MTN, Affirmed Aaa.za

.... NSR Other Short Term, Affirmed P-1.za

.... Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Baa3, Outlook Changed to Negative from Stable

.... Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Ba1/Ba2

.... NSR Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed A1.za/Aa2.za

.... NSR Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Aaa.za

.... Long-term Bank Deposit Ratings, Affirmed Baa3, Outlook Changed to Negative from Stable

.... Short-term Bank Deposit Ratings, Affirmed P-3

.... NSR Long-term Bank Deposit Rating, Affirmed Aaa.za

.... NSR Short-term Bank Deposit Rating, Affirmed P-1.za

Outlook Action:

....Outlook Changed To Negative From Stable

..Issuer: Investec Bank Ltd.

Affirmations:

.... Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed baa3

.... Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed baa3

.... Long-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed Baa2(cr)

.... Short-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed P-2(cr)

.... Long-term Counterparty Risk Ratings, Affirmed Baa2

.... Short-term Counterparty Risk Ratings, Affirmed P-2

.... NSR Long-term Counterparty Risk Rating, Affirmed Aaa.za

.... NSR Short-term Counterparty Risk Rating, Affirmed P-1.za

.... Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Baa3

.... Tier III Debt MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Ba1

.... Subordinate MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Ba1

.... Senior Unsecured, Affirmed Baa3, Outlook Changed to Negative from Stable

.... Long-term Bank Deposit Ratings, Affirmed Baa3, Outlook Changed to Negative from Stable

.... Short-term Bank Deposit Ratings, Affirmed P-3

.... NSR Long-term Bank Deposit Rating, Affirmed Aa1.za

.... NSR Short-term Bank Deposit Rating, Affirmed P-1.za

Outlook Action:

....Outlook Changed To Negative From Stable

..Issuer: Nedbank Limited

Affirmations:

.... Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed baa3

.... Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed baa3

.... Long-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed Baa2(cr)

.... Short-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed P-2(cr)

.... Long-term Counterparty Risk Ratings, Affirmed Baa2

.... Short-term Counterparty Risk Ratings, Affirmed P-2

.... NSR Long-term Counterparty Risk Rating, Affirmed Aaa.za

.... NSR Short-term Counterparty Risk Rating, Affirmed P-1.za

.... Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Baa3

.... Subordinate MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Ba1

.... NSR Subordinate MTN Program, Affirmed Aa3.za

.... NSR Senior Unsecured MTN program, Affirmed Aa1.za

.... Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Ba1

.... Long-term Bank Deposit Ratings, Affirmed Baa3, Outlook Changed to Negative from Stable

.... Short-term Bank Deposit Ratings, Affirmed P-3

.... NSR Long-term Bank Deposit Rating, Affirmed Aa1.za

.... NSR Short-term Bank Deposit Rating, Affirmed P-1.za

Outlook Action:

....Outlook Changed To Negative From Stable

..Issuer: The Standard Bank of South Africa Limited

Affirmations:

.... Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed baa3

.... Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed baa3

.... Long-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed Baa2(cr)

.... Short-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed P-2(cr)

.... Long-term Counterparty Risk Ratings, Affirmed Baa2

.... Short-term Counterparty Risk Ratings, Affirmed P-2

.... NSR Long-term Counterparty Risk Rating, Affirmed Aaa.za

.... NSR Short-term Counterparty Risk Rating, Affirmed P-1.za

.... Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Baa3

.... Subordinate MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Ba2

.... Senior Subordinate, Affirmed (P)Ba1

.... Other Short Term, Affirmed (P)P-3

.... Long-term Bank Deposit Ratings, Affirmed Baa3, Outlook Changed to Negative from Stable

.... Short-term Bank Deposit Ratings, Affirmed P-3

.... NSR Long-term Bank Deposit Rating, Affirmed Aa1.za

.... NSR Short-term Bank Deposit Rating, Affirmed P-1.za

Outlook Action:

....Outlook Changed To Negative From Stable

..Issuer: Standard Bank Group Limited

Affirmations:

.... Long-term Issuer Ratings, Affirmed Ba1, Outlook Changed to Negative from Stable

.... Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Ba1

.... Subordinate MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Ba2

.... Senior Subordinate, Affirmed (P)Ba1

.... Other Short Term, Affirmed (P)NP

.... Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Ba2

Outlook Action:

....Outlook Changed To Negative From Stable

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Banks published in August 2018. Please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

Moody's National Scale Credit Ratings (NSRs) are intended as relative measures of creditworthiness among debt issues and issuers within a country, enabling market participants to better differentiate relative risks. NSRs differ from Moody's global scale credit ratings in that they are not globally comparable with the full universe of Moody's rated entities, but only with NSRs for other rated debt issues and issuers within the same country. NSRs are designated by a ".nn" country modifier signifying the relevant country, as in ".za" for South Africa. For further information on Moody's approach to national scale credit ratings, please refer to Moody's Credit rating Methodology published in May 2016 entitled "Mapping National Scale Ratings from Global Scale Ratings". While NSRs have no inherent absolute meaning in terms of default risk or expected loss, a historical probability of default consistent with a given NSR can be inferred from the GSR to which it maps back at that particular point in time. For information on the historical default rates associated with different global scale rating categories over different investment horizons, please see http://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1174796.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series, category/class of debt or security this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series, category/class of debt, security 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.

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 rating analyst and the Moody's legal entity that has issued the ratings.

The relevant office for each credit rating is identified in "Debt/deal box" on the Ratings tab in the Debt/Deal List section of each issuer/entity page of the website.

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
VP-Sr Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

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

No Related Data.
© 2020 Moody's Corporation, Moody's Investors Service, Inc., Moody's Analytics, Inc. and/or their licensors and affiliates (collectively, "MOODY'S"). All rights reserved.

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