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Rating Action:

Moody's assigns A2/P-1/C ratings to Banco Guipuzcoano

13 Jul 2007
Moody's assigns A2/P-1/C ratings to Banco Guipuzcoano

First-time ratings

London, 13 July 2007 -- Moody's Investors Service today assigned A2 long-term and Prime-1 short-term local and foreign currency deposit ratings and a C bank financial strength rating ("BFSR") to Banco Guipuzcoano. The outlook on all ratings is stable.

According to Moody's, the bank's C BFSR is underpinned by its commercial banking franchise within the Province of Guipuzcoa and the Basque Country as well as its diversified, albeit limited, nationwide branch network. The rating further recognises the bank's good credit fundamentals including strong asset quality indicators and regulatory capital ratios, and more modest efficiency and profitability indicators.

However, the BFSR also reflects the high credit risk concentration to both real estate development-related borrowers and the construction industry, although this is significantly lower than at many of the bank's peers. Additionally, the BFSR -- which, in accordance with Moody's Joint Default Analysis methodology, translates into a Baseline Credit Assessment of A3 -- takes account of the bank's relatively high level of insider and related-party lending, which is mainly linked to lending to its own real estate subsidiaries. Nonetheless, Moody's acknowledges that the bank has strict control procedures over these subsidiaries which mitigate the associated risk.

In Moody's opinion, the probability of systemic support for Banco Guipuzcoano in the event of a stress situation is low due to its modest market shares at a regional level when compared to other financial institutions in the Spanish banking system. The systemic support assessment results in a one-notch uplift in Banco Guipuzcoano's long-term deposit ratings to A2 from its Baseline Credit Assessment.

Looking ahead, Moody's believes a rating upgrade could potentially be prompted by stronger financial fundamentals -- specifically an increase in risk-adjusted profitability, combined with a reduction in the bank's concentration risk and exposure to the Spanish real estate development sector, together with a lower level of lending to its real estate subsidiaries and lower borrower concentration.

Conversely, a rating downgrade could be triggered by a deterioration in its asset quality following losses arising from its exposure to the Spanish real estate developers and/or increasing concentration risk towards its top 20 exposures and the real estate sector. And a deterioration in other financial fundamentals, its franchise value, and/or increased market risk appetite could also trigger a downgrade.

The following ratings were assigned to Banco Guipuzcoano with a stable outlook:

- Long-term bank deposits: A2

- Short-term bank deposits: Prime-1

- Bank financial strength rating: C

Based in Guipuzcoa, in the Basque Country in the north of Spain, Banco Guipuzcoano reported total assets of EUR9.015 billion at the end of 2006, making it the 36th largest Spanish banking group. It has a domestic franchise network of around 256 branches and 1,182 employees and focuses on lending to SMEs, retail customers and Spanish real estate developers. The bank is floated on the Spanish stock exchange and two Basque savings banks have a stake in the bank: Bilbao Bizkaia Kutxa (rated A1/Prime-1/C+) with a 15% stake and Caja de Ahorros de Guipuzcoa y San Sebastian (unrated) with around 10%.

London
Antonio Carballo
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

London
David Golin
Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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