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Rating Action:

Moody's assigns Aa3/P-1 issuer ratings to Abbey National Treasury Services, outlook stable

19 Dec 2018

Paris, December 19, 2018 -- Moody's Investors Service (Moody's) today assigned long-term and short-term issuer ratings of Aa3/Prime-1 to Abbey National Treasury Services plc (ANTS). The rating agency also assigned a baseline credit assessment (BCA) and adjusted BCA of a3 to ANTS, and a group notional BCA of a3 to Santander UK Group Holdings plc (Santander UK Group Holdings, senior unsecured Baa1). Furthermore, Moody's affirmed the long-term and short-term deposit ratings of ANTS at Aa3/Prime-1, and affirmed the bank's long-term counterparty risk ratings (CRR) at Aa2, short-term CRR at Prime-1, long-term counterparty risk assessment (CR Assessment) at Aa2(cr), and short-term CR Assessment at Prime-1(cr).

The outlook on ANTS' long-term deposit and issuer ratings is stable.

This rating action is driven by the ring-fencing transfer scheme undertaken by Santander UK Group Holdings as part of the group's approach to ring-fencing implementation.

A full list of affected entities and their ratings can be found at the end of this press release.

RATINGS RATIONALE

BCAs

Moody's has assigned a standalone assessment to ANTS following the application of a ring-fencing scheme undertaken by Santander UK Group Holdings to ensure that it remains compliant with the UK's ring-fencing provisions that will come into force on 1 January 2019. Santander UK plc (Santander UK, senior unsecured debt Aa3 stable, BCA a3) has become the Santander UK Group's main ring-fenced bank (RFB) in the UK, while ANTS, originally set up as a capital management and funding issuance vehicle, has transferred most of its business to either Santander UK or to the London branch of Banco Santander S.A. (Spain) (Banco Santander, senior unsecured MTN (P)A2, BCA baa1). A small portfolio of legacy derivative positions not permissible within the ring-fenced bank will remain in ANTS and be held until their maturity. ANTS' limited scope will also include the branches containing the Santander UK activities from Crown Dependencies, consisting of wealth management deposits (c.GBP 5 billion). The transfer of the Crown Dependencies' branches from Santander UK to ANTS was completed on 17 December 2018.

ANTS' BCA of a3 is driven by its expected high degree of integration with the rest of the UK sub-group. Indeed, while ANTS will no longer conduct funding, liquidity and capital management activities, or any other material legacy wholesale transactions, the transfer of the Crown Dependencies' branches from Santander UK will not result in operational or management changes. As a result, and given ANTS' limited scope, Moody's does not believe that ANTS will have a meaningful franchise of its own, nor that its standalone financial metrics will provide consequential indicators of creditworthiness, and therefore considers it to be highly integrated and harmonized with Santander UK Group Holdings.

The a3 notional BCA of Santander UK Group Holdings is aligned with the a3 BCA of Santander UK and reflects the predominance of Santander UK within the UK sub-group (with customers loans expected to be about GBP199 billion under Santander UK compared to GBP0.3 billion under ANTS at year-end 2018).

RATIONALE FOR LONG-TERM RATINGS

ANTS' Aa3 long-term deposit and issuer ratings are also aligned with those of Santander UK. Santander UK Group Holdings has determined with its regulator that it would be subject to a so-called "Single Point of Entry" resolution strategy. Moody's believes that ANTS, although technically ring-fenced, given its high degree of integration would very likely be resolved together with Santander UK in the event of their failure, and that the risk of its liabilities would be fungible with those of the RFB. This means that, like those of Santander UK, ANTS' deposits and senior unsecured debt are likely to face very low loss-given-failure according to the agency's Advanced Loss Given Failure (Advanced LGF) analysis, resulting in a two-notch uplift in its deposit ratings relative to its adjusted BCA of a3. In the same way, given Santander UK's systemic importance, Moody's expects a moderate probability of support from the UK government for both ANTS' deposits and senior unsecured debt. This results in a further one-notch uplift above the adjusted BCA for both instrument ratings.

RATIONALE FOR THE OUTLOOKS

The stable outlooks on the long-term ratings of ANTS are driven by the outlook on Santander UK, reflecting the agency's view that ANTS' liabilities would in practice be fungible with those of Santander UK in a resolution.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

Given the high level of integration between ANTS and its parent, an upgrade or downgrade of Santander UK Group Holdings' notional BCA would likely trigger an upgrade or downgrade of ANTS' BCA, while an upgrade or downgrade of Santander UK's instrument ratings would likely trigger an upgrade or downgrade of ANTS' instrument ratings.

Santander UK Group Holdings' notional BCA could be upgraded if it: (1) showed a structural reduction in its reliance on market funding; (2) maintained its strong asset quality despite growth in its SME and corporate lending portfolio; and (3) maintained its strong solvency profile through internal capital generation.

ANTS' deposit and senior debt ratings could also be upgraded if its holding company were to issue significant amounts of long-term debt.

Santander UK Group Holdings' notional BCA could be downgraded due to: (1) an unexpected significant deterioration in its asset quality metrics; (2) a material weakening in profitability, which would reduce its going-concern loss-absorption capacity; or (3) a deterioration in its funding and liquidity position, including a further reduction in the quantity or quality of its liquidity buffer.

ANTS' long-term senior unsecured debt and deposit ratings could also be downgraded in case of a reduction in the volume of debt that could be bailed in, which would increase loss-given failure for these instruments.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

Issuer: Abbey National Treasury Services plc

..Assignments:

....Short-term Issuer Ratings, assigned P-1

....Long-term Issuer Ratings, assigned Aa3 Stable

....Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, assigned a3

....Baseline Credit Assessment, assigned a3

..Affirmations:

....Long-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, affirmed Aa2(cr)

....Short-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, affirmed P-1(cr)

....Long-term Counterparty Risk Ratings, affirmed Aa2

....Short-term Counterparty Risk Ratings, affirmed P-1

....Short-term Bank Deposits, affirmed P-1

....Long-term Bank Deposits, affirmed Aa3 Stable

..Outlook Action:

....Outlook remains Stable

Issuer: Santander UK Group Holdings plc

..Assignments:

....Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, assigned a3

....Baseline Credit Assessment, assigned a3

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.

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 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.

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.

Roland Auquier
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's France SAS
96 Boulevard Haussmann
Paris 75008
France
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Nicholas Hill
MD - Banking
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's France SAS
96 Boulevard Haussmann
Paris 75008
France
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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