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Announcement:

Moody's assesses impact on Italian structured finance transactions following sovereign downgrade.

04 Oct 2011

London, 04 October 2011 -- Moody's Investors Service has today announced that it will consider the implications for Italian structured finance transactions of its three-notch downgrade of the rating of the government of the Republic of Italy to A2 with a negative outlook, from Aa2. For full details, please refer to "Moody's downgrades Italy's government bond ratings to A2 with a negative outlook; Prime-1 rating affirmed" published on 4 October 2011. Notwithstanding this lowering of the government debt rating, Moody's believes that a Aaa(sf) rating remains achievable for Italian structured finance transactions that (i) benefit from sufficient credit enhancement; and (ii) have highly rated transaction parties or appropriate operational risk mitigants in place.

The factors driving the downgrade of the Italian sovereign increase the risk that asset performance will deteriorate significantly and uniformly. Whilst the probability of such deterioration remains very low, it has reached a point where current levels of credit enhancement for some senior notes may be insufficient to support the highest rating levels.

Moody's will review all Italian structured finance transactions (ABS, CMBS, RMBS, Structured Credit and those linked to the Italian government or sub-sovereign ratings) and announce any rating actions within the next few weeks.

Highest achievable rating for Italian structured finance transactions is Aaa(sf)

Notwithstanding its recent downgrade of the Italian government's rating, Moody's expects that most Italian structured finance transactions can retain or achieve ratings of up to Aaa(sf). Structural features and credit enhancement will continue to be able to mitigate the effects of increased collateral risk and performance disruption risk in a severe event and the level of uncertainty around them. Moody's discusses the relationship between sovereign ratings and structured finance ratings in Moody's Special Report "Assessing the Impact of the Eurozone Sovereign Debt Crisis on Structured Finance Transactions" published in April 2011.

Moody's negative outlook on the Italian government's debt rating reflects ongoing economic and financial risks in Italy and in the euro area. The uncertain market environment and the risk of further deterioration in investor sentiment could constrain the country's access to the public debt markets. If such risks were to materialise and the long-term availability of external sources of liquidity support were to remain uncertain, the country's debt rating could transition to substantially lower rating levels. The highest achievable structured finance rating may be revised progressively downwards if the likelihood of those events were to increase.

Increasing collateral risk is one factor driving Italian structured finance ratings

Given the significant challenges faced by the Italian government and the resultant likelihood of a difficult economic environment emerging, the debt repayment capacity of some individuals and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) will become increasingly strained. While the government's reform plans have begun to address the problems of low productivity and significant labour and product market rigidity, they also will ultimately lead to public spending cuts, tax rises and efforts to increase tax compliance, and knock-on effects on the private sector, all of which hurt obligor performance.

As a result of the rising risk and uncertainty associated with the deterioration of Italian asset performance, most Italian structured finance transactions will only be able to retain or achieve ratings of Aaa(sf) if they benefit from sufficient credit enhancement and have the robust structure described below.

Moody's believes that for Italian structured finance transactions to achieve a Aaa(sf) rating a minimum level of credit enhancement would be (i) 10%-15% for RMBS (depending on pool characteristics), (ii) 15%-20% for auto ABS, (iii) 20%-25% for consumer ABS and (iv) 30%-35% for SME/Leases ABS.

Increased counterparty risk is the second factor driving Italian structured finance ratings

Moody's will also consider the effect of the potential deterioration in the credit quality of transaction parties such as servicers and cash managers in Italian ABS and RMBS, in line with rating guidance entitled "Global Structured Finance Operational Risk Guidelines: Moody's Approach to Analyzing Performance Disruption Risk", published in March 2011. In its analysis, the rating agency will also factor in operational risk mitigants such as back up servicing and cash management arrangements and available liquidity.

In assessing the effect of any potential deterioration in the credit quality of the operational transaction parties, Moody's assesses both the credit quality of the parties and the amount of liquidity and credit enhancement in the transaction. For transactions with (i) adequate liquidity arrangements; (ii) servicers with current ratings at or above A3; or (iii) appropriate back up servicing provisions in place, the senior notes will be able to retain or achieve a Aaa(sf) rating, subject to minimum credit enhancement amounts described above.

Any potential deterioration in the credit quality of certain transaction parties may also lead to increased risks of set-off and commingling in some transactions. Moody's will also assess the structural features in each transaction to mitigate against such risks in assessing whether the senior notes will be able to retain or achieve a Aaa(sf) rating.

Ning Loh
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Structured Finance Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Annick Poulain
MD - Structured Finance
Structured Finance Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 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
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's assesses impact on Italian structured finance transactions following sovereign downgrade.
No Related Data.
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