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Rating Action:

Moody's assigns provisional ratings to Raiffeisen Bank International (Austria)

08 Oct 2010

RZB's A1/D+ ratings affirmed, outlook changed to positive from negative, hybrid ratings of RZB downgraded to Ba1

Frankfurt am Main, October 08, 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service has today taken multiple rating actions on entities within the Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterreich Group (the RZB Group).

These actions follow the group's announcement that it is changing its corporate structure through an intra-group transfer of most of the commercial banking assets and liabilities of its top institution -- Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterreich AG (RZB) -- to its majority-owned, stock-market quoted subsidiary, Raiffeisen International Bank Holding AG. This entity will be renamed Raiffeisen Bank International (RBI) upon closing of the transaction.

Today's rating actions anticipate the successful closing of the transaction.

Moody's has assigned to RBI a provisional long-term debt and deposit rating of (P)A1, a provisional short-term debt rating of (P)Prime-1, and a provisional (P)D+ Bank Financial Strength Rating (BFSR), mapping into a baseline credit assessment (BCA) of Baa3. All these rating actions are contingent on the closing of the transaction.

The outlook on the provisional long-term debt and deposit ratings is stable, and the outlook on the provisional BFSR is positive.

At the same time, Moody's has re-assessed RZB's current (and the entity's future) credit profile. RZB's A1 long-term debt and deposit ratings and its D+ BFSR (mapping into a BCA of Baa3) have been affirmed. Although the outlook on the debt and deposit ratings remains stable, the BFSR outlook was changed to positive from negative. The Prime-1 short-term ratings were affirmed.

Contingent upon the closing of the transaction, Moody's has assigned RZB a provisional (P)A2 issuer rating with a stable outlook, reflecting the future status of RZB as a pure bank holding company and the structurally subordinated nature of its senior obligations relative to the direct obligations of its subsidiaries.

Moody's has also assigned a provisional (P)A1 rating to RZB's long-term senior unsecured debt. This rating is contingent on the debt benefiting from an unconditional and irrevocable guarantee from RBI. The outlook on the rating is stable.

The ratings of the subordinated and hybrid instruments are discussed below.

Moody's will separately review any potential impact on the current ratings of the subsidiaries of RBI, which are not covered in this press release. RZB's Aaa rating for obligations that are guaranteed by the Republic of Austria remained unaffected by today's rating actions.

RATINGS RATIONALE

In Q4 2010, the RZB Group will undergo a transformation whereby all of RZB's commercial banking activities and most its liabilities will be transferred to RBI, the stock-quoted holding company for the group's international activities in Central & Eastern Europe (CEE) and Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

With the asset transfer, RZB will raise its current 72.8% stake in RBI to 78.0%. Upon completion of the transaction, RBI will operate as an Austrian-regulated banking institution. On a pro forma basis, its assets will increase to EUR148 billion, up from EUR78 billion as of June 2010.

RZB will assume supervisory and control functions over RBI, in addition to the role as the central bank for the RZB Group's owners -- the co-operative sector or Raiffeisenlandesbanks in Austria. With a marginal earnings contribution from these activities, RZB's earnings will depend almost exclusively on income streams from RBI. The capital requirements of RBI's still-expanding franchise in CEE and CIS will weigh on any potential dividends to RZB.

RZB is expected to retain total assets of close to EUR30 billion, down from EUR93 billion as per the YE 2009 individual accounts. While most of its liabilities will move to RBI -- in particular, its market funds and customer deposits -- securities of EUR8 billion will stay with RZB until maturity in 2020 benefitting from a guarantee of RBI, which is reflected in our provisional ratings.

PROVISIONAL RATINGS

Following the transaction, RBI will have effectively assumed all of RZB's previous businesses, except for the central bank function. This function makes a marginal contribution to earnings, but is relevant to the overall group due to the funding provided by the Raiffeisen sector of EUR16 billion according to June 2010 financials. Moody's understands that RZB will pass these resources on to RBI for a stable funding base.

RBI's provisional BFSR of (P)D+ recognizes its strong retail and corporate franchises throughout Austria, CEE and CIS, which provides for good earnings diversification by geography as well as business segments. However, performance depends heavily on the CEE franchise that the group has successfully established in the region.

According to pro forma financials as of June 2010, RBI's capitalization is adequate for its risk profile, with a Tier 1 ratio of 9%. Moody's further notes that the group performed well during the economic crisis, and that credit losses recorded in 2009 and year-to-date were somewhat below the rating agency's base-case stress expectations. More importantly, performance was far better than in our stress-case scenario, which supports the BFSR at the current level.

Corporate governance, previously considered a constraint to the intrinsic strength of the rating, has clearly improved from the grouping of RZB Group's major business activities into a stock-quoted company, thereby reducing the overall complexity of the group.

These strengths are counterbalanced by modest overall profitability after catering for risk costs and by challenges to asset quality. In particular, Moody's remains concerned that economic volatility and uncertainty will persist in some of RBI's core markets, such as Russia and Ukraine. Given the nature of RBI's sizeable exposure to the less granular corporate sector, the predictability of expected losses or write-down requirements remains an issue. However, the rating agency considers that further loan impairments can be absorbed at the bank's D+ BFSR level -- hence, the positive outlook.

RBI's provisional (P)A1 long-term debt and deposit ratings benefit from the support mechanisms available to members of the Raiffeisen co-operative banking sector (Kundengarantiegemeinschaft), which has been extended to RBI in the context of the transaction, but not to its Eastern European subsidiaries. The rating further reflects a high probability of systemic support, reflecting RBI's sizeable market share in Austria as well as the Raiffeisen sector's considerable importance to Austria's banking system. Together, these factors support a five-notch uplift to RBI's provisional long-term debt and deposit ratings, as well as the stable outlook.

The provisional (P)A2 issuer rating on RZB -- RBI's parent company --incorporates two main elements: (i) the long-term debt and deposit ratings of RBI of (P)A1; and (ii) the structural subordination of the senior obligations of RZB regarding the senior unsecured obligations of its major operating entity RBI, resulting in a one-notch difference between the bank and the holding company. However, Moody's notes the absence of any meaningful double leverage at the holding-company level and considers that RBI will be able to continue to generate adequate earnings that will allow for uninterrupted dividend payments, enabling RZB to at least meet its payment obligations. The outlook on the provisional issuer rating follows from the stable outlook on RBI's provisional long term debt and deposit rating. Following the closing of the transaction, Moody's is likely to withdraw the BFSR of RZB.

RZB's provisional (P)A1ratings on the backed debt securities of RZB are based on the unconditional and irrevocable nature of the guarantee and payment undertaking, which allows for the (P)A1ratings assigned to RBI to be passed through to the eligible securities.

INTERIM AFFIRMATION OF RZB RATINGS PENDING THE TRANSACTION

For the time being (and pending the transaction), the D+ BFSR of RZB was affirmed following the re-assessment of RZB's credit profile on the basis of its consolidated audited 2009 annual accounts as well as unaudited interim financials as of June 2010, reflecting its solid franchises, good business diversification and overall satisfactory financials. Given that RZB's current profile is highly compatible with that of RBIs after the transaction, the credit strengths and challenges as outlined above apply, as does the positive outlook.

At the same time, Moody's affirms RZB's A1 long-term debt and deposit ratings with a stable outlook, reflecting the same sector and systemic support assumptions as for RBI's provisional long-term debt and deposit ratings as outlined above.

SUBORDINATED DEBT RATINGS OF A2 AFFIRMED RESPECTIVELY, NEW (P)A3 ASSIGNED

Moody's has also affirmed the rating of A2 on RZB's rated senior subordinated debt, one notch below the senior debt and deposit rating. For banks in Austria, Moody's continues to incorporate systemic support in its ratings of dated subordinated debt to the same extent as in its senior debt ratings. This reflects the absence of a resolution framework in Austria that would allow for the imposition of losses on dated subordinated creditors outside of a liquidation.

The provisional (P)A2 ratings for RZB's backed subordinated debt after the transaction reflect the unconditional and irrevocable subordinated payment undertaking of RBI, which allows for the provisional (P)A2 ratings assigned to RBI to be passed through to RZB.

DOWNGRADE OF HYBRIDS TO Ba1 RESPECTIVELY NEW (P)Ba1 ASSIGNED ON REVISED SECTOR SUPPORT ASSUMPTIONS

Moody's downgraded the ratings on non-cumulative preferred securities issued by RZB to Ba1 from Baa2, three notches below the Adjusted BCA, reflecting their deeply subordinated claims in liquidation and the non-cumulative coupon-skip mechanism tied to the breach of a balance-sheet loss trigger.

RZB Finance (Jersey) II Limited (XS0173287862)

RZB Finance (Jersey) III Limited (XS0193631040)

RZB Finance (Jersey) IV Limited (XS0253262025)

Junior subordinated debt (Ergaenzungskapital notes) was downgraded to Ba1 from Baa2, which is three notches below the Adjusted BCA, reflecting the debt's junior subordinated claim in liquidation and cumulative deferral features tied to the breach of a net loss trigger.

Raiffeisen Zentralbank AG: Ergaenzungskapital notes (XS0326967832)

The downgrade of RZB's hybrid capital and junior subordinated debt instruments follows a reassessment of the financial strength of the Raiffeisen banking group while the probability of support is still assessed as very high in deriving RZB's Adjusted BCA, which now stands at Baa1.

This downgrade is independent from the transaction. The Adjusted BCA is Moody's starting point for rating hybrid securities and reflects the bank's standalone credit strength, including parental or cooperative support, if applicable. The Adjusted BCA excludes systemic support expectations.

RZB's provisional backed (P)Ba1ratings for hybrid securities are based on the unconditional and irrevocable guarantee and payment undertaking of RBI, which allows for the provisional (P)Ba1 ratings assigned to RBI to be passed through to the eligible securities.

Moody's is issuing the provisional ratings on RBI and RZB's backed senior unsecured debt in advance of the successful completion of the intra-group transfer of RZB's commercial banking activities; these provisional ratings represent Moody's preliminary opinion only. Upon a conclusive review of the completion of the transaction and the documentation of the backed senior unsecured obligations, Moody's will endeavor to assign definitive ratings that could differ from the provisional ratings.

PREVIOUS RATING ACTIONS AND METHODOLOGIES

Moody's previous rating action on RZB was taken on 25 February 2010, when RZB's hybrids securities ratings were downgraded to Baa2 from Baa1.

The principal methodologies used in rating RBI and RZB were Bank Financial Strength Ratings: Global Methodology published in February 2007, Incorporation of Joint-Default Analysis into Moody's Bank Ratings: A Refined Methodology published in March 2007, and Moody's Guidelines for Rating Bank Hybrid Securities and Subordinated Debt published in January 2010. Other methodologies and factors that may have been considered in the process of rating this issuer can also be found on Moody's website.

RZB is domiciled in Vienna, Austria. At the end of June 2010, it had total consolidated assets of EUR152.2 billion and equity of EUR11 billion, according to IFRS. The group's core capital Tier 1 ratio was 9.3%, according to BIS standards.

RBI, which will be domiciled in Vienna, Austria, had total consolidated assets of EUR148 billion and equity of EUR10.1 billion, according to unaudited pro-forma IFRS figures as June 2010.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

Information sources used to prepare the credit rating are the following: parties involved in the ratings, public information, confidential and proprietary Moody's Investors Service's information.

Moody's Investors Service considers the quality of information available on the issuer or obligation satisfactory for the purposes of assigning a credit rating.

The rating has been disclosed to the rated entity or its designated agents and issued with no amendment resulting from that disclosure.

Moody's Investors Service may have provided Ancillary or Other Permissible Service(s) to the rated entity or its related third parties within the three years preceding the Credit Rating Action. Please see the ratings disclosure page www.moodys.com/disclosures on our website for further information.

MOODY'S adopts all necessary measures so that the information it uses in assigning a credit rating is of sufficient quality and from sources MOODY'S considers to be reliable including, when appropriate, independent third-party sources. However, MOODY'S is not an auditor and cannot in every instance independently verify or validate information received in the rating process.

Please see ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on Moodys.com for the last rating action and the rating history.

The date on which some Credit Ratings were first released goes back to a time before Moody's Investors Service's Credit Ratings were fully digitized and accurate data may not be available. Consequently, Moody's Investors Service provides a date that it believes is the most reliable and accurate based on the information that is available to it. Please see the ratings disclosure page on our website www.moodys.com for further information.

Please see the Credit Policy page on Moodys.com for the methodologies used in determining ratings, further information on the meaning of each rating category and the definition of default and recovery.

Frankfurt am Main
Carola Schuler
MD - Banking
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Frankfurt am Main
Mathias Kuelpmann
Senior Vice President
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's Deutschland GmbH
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Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany

Moody's assigns provisional ratings to Raiffeisen Bank International (Austria)
No Related Data.
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