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Rating Action:

Moody's changes outlook on SME Bank's deposit and debt ratings to stable

01 Jun 2018

London, 01 June 2018 -- Moody's Investors Service has today changed to stable from negative the outlook on Ba2 long-term local- and foreign currency deposit ratings of SME Bank (Russia). The outlook on the bank's Ba2 local-currency senior unsecured debt rating was also changed to stable from negative. Concurrently, the rating agency affirmed SME Bank's Baseline Credit Assessment (BCA) and adjusted BCA of b2, the bank's Not Prime short-term foreign-currency deposit rating, as well as its long-term and short-term Counterparty Risk Assessments (CR Assessments) of Ba1(cr) / Not-Prime(cr).

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

RATINGS RATIONALE

The change of SME Bank's ratings outlook to stable from negative reflects Moody's expectation that the bank's asset quality and profitability metrics will stabilize during 2018, with any further negative pressure, should it occur, being limited and offset by the bank's ample capital adequacy buffer.

In 2017, problem loans in SME Bank's portfolio, including loans to financial institutions and direct loans to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), decreased by approximately 20% in nominal terms, although in percentage terms the problem loan ratio increased to 20.6% of total gross loans from 16.8%, owing to the overall shrinkage of the loan book. During 2017, SME Bank was actively reducing its exposures to financial institutions, because the increased number of Russian banks' failures (whereby the regulator had revoked more than 300 bank licenses over 2014-17) put pressure on SME Bank's solvency metrics. Instead, following its recently revised strategy, SME Bank started to substitute the concentrated portfolio of loans to financial institutions by granular loans to SMEs. Moody's expects that SME Bank's reduced single-name credit concentration will render performance of the bank's loan book more predictable going forward. As of 31 December 2017, SME Bank's total aggregate exposure to 10 largest financial institutions stood at just above 100% of its Tier 1 capital, much lower than the 164% reported as of the start of 2017.

According to the rating agency, SME Bank's intensified direct lending to SMEs still forms a source of incremental asset risk for the bank as the rapidly augmented new SME loan vintages start to season. However, a mitigating factor is that lending to this class of borrowers is not a new area for SME Bank, because, due to its mandate, the bank has historically been involved in different types of standard-setting activities for credit underwriting in this product niche. The portfolio of SME Bank's direct loans to SMEs increased more than 1.5x in 2017 (although from a low base), and we expect it to further nearly double in 2018.

Moody's expects that SME Bank's capital buffer will be able to absorb any elevated credit losses stemming from the new lending activities, should these losses exceed the rating agency's central scenario. Currently, the bank's coverage of problem loans by loan-loss reserves is sufficient, standing at 101% as of 31 December 2017. SME Bank's capital adequacy also stands at solid levels. As of 1 May 2018, the bank's regulatory Common Equity Tier 1 and total capital adequacy ratios stood at 19.0% and 24.9%, respectively, providing ample buffers over the regulatory minima of 4.5% and 8%, as well as over the regulatory Basel III fully loaded ratios of 7% and 10.5% applicable starting 1 January 2019.

SME Bank's liquidity and funding profiles are stable. The long-term and cheap funds from the state-related sources dominate the bank's liabilities and help it preserve loan origination activities even at times of financial turbulence, thus facilitating the Russian government's countercyclical economic policies.

Moody's incorporates very high government support assumptions in SME Bank's Ba2 debt and deposit ratings, which lead to a three-notch uplift of these ratings from the bank's BCA of b2. The rating agency believes that the support from the Russian government will be rendered to SME Bank, given that (1) the bank is fully owned and controlled by Russian authorities through the state joint-stock company Russian Small and Medium Business Corporation (JSC RSMB Corporation); (2) it is the core operational unit of JSC RSMB Corporation, which, in turn, acts as the government conduit for supporting local SMEs; (3) the development of the SME sector is the Russian government's strategic priority; and (4) there is a track record of government support to the bank through capital injections and subsidized long-term funding.

WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATINGS UP / DOWN

Moody's may upgrade SME Bank's deposit and debt ratings if it observes a sustainable good quality of the newly issued SME loan vintages coupled with the diversification of the bank's funding sources.

SME Bank's ratings might be downgraded, or the rating outlook might be revised to negative from stable, in case of a material deterioration of the bank's asset quality and profitability, or if the bank is unable to refinance its maturing wholesale funding at a reasonable price.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

Issuer: SME Bank

Affirmations:

....LT Bank Deposits, Affirmed Ba2, Outlook changed To Stable From Negative

....ST Bank Deposit, Affirmed NP

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Ba2, Outlook changed To Stable From Negative

....Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed b2

....Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed b2

....LT Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed Ba1(cr)

....ST Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed NP(cr)

Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Changed To Stable From Negative

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

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

Headquartered in Moscow, Russia, SME Bank reported -- at year-end 2017 - total assets of RUB89.7 billion and total shareholder equity of RUB24.3 billion, according to its audited financial statements prepared under International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). The bank's IFRS loss for 2017 was RUB887 million.

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.

Olga Ulyanova
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Limited, Russian Branch
7th floor, Four Winds Plaza
21 1st Tverskaya-Yamskaya St.
Moscow 125047
Russia
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 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.
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