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Announcement:

Moody's comments on UCPB's recapitalization

04 Aug 2008
Moody's comments on UCPB's recapitalization

Hong Kong, August 04, 2008 -- Moody's Investors Service says the announced recapitalization agreement between United Coconut Planters Bank (UCPB) and three government agencies should help stabilize the bank's financial condition.

Moody's currently assigns to UCPB a bank financial strength rating of E and foreign currency deposit ratings of B1/Not-Prime. The outlook for all ratings is stable.

The government agencies are the Department of Finance, Presidential Commission on Good Government and Philippine Deposit Insurance Corp (PDIC).

Under the agreement, PDIC will convert the remaining PHP12 billion of its PHP20 billion Financial Assistance Package provided to UCPB in 2003 into special Tier 1 capital qualifying instruments.

The notes will be issued under a special authority granted in January 2008 to PDIC by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for banks under rehabilitation.

"From a bondholders' perspective, these instruments are equivalent to equity in their loss-absorbing capacity," says Richard Lung, a Moody's VP/Senior Analyst. "If the bank is liquidated, they are subordinated to its depositors, senior creditors, and holders of lower and upper tier 2 subordinated debt."

"However, the instruments are not common shares in that they do not automatically convey ownership rights to their holders," says Lung. "Only with BSP approval can PDIC transfer or convert these instruments into preferred shares convertible into common equity. BSP approval is also required if UCPB exercises its call option."

"Because of potential complications in converting these instruments into shares, they only marginally increase the bank's financial flexibility," says Lung, adding, "The bank's inability -- due to disputes over its ownership -- to issue new capital has long served as a constraint on its ratings."

"While PHP12 billion in new capital is a good step towards the bank's rehabilitation, more capital will be needed for positive pressure to develop on UCPB's ratings," says Lung. In analyzing UCPB's capital position, Moody's takes into consideration that, if not for regulatory forbearance, its equity as of end-2006 would have been PHP21.73 billion lower than reported.

The Department of Finance has provided additional support to the bank by pledging to maintain at least PHP25 billion in deposits, but which can only be invested in government securities.

The agreement points to the bank's continuing reliance on external government support and is consistent with its E bank financial strength rating.

While the agreement better positions UCPB for recovery, Moody's says it still faces significant challenges in rebuilding its weakened franchise amid a competitive banking sector and volatility in Philippine government bond prices.

Since UCPB was first put under sequestration over 20 years ago, its market position has been eroded. From being positioned as the 6th largest bank with 4.9% of total commercial bank assets in 1985, it is now in 15th place with only 2.3% as of end-2007.

At the same time, Moody's says this agreement has no impact on UCPB's B1/NP foreign currency deposit ratings, which already incorporate a high probability of systemic support as a result of the government's control of the bank and past support.

The outlook on all of the bank's rating is stable. The less benign operating environment evident in the Philippines places the bank in a difficult position in trying to gain momentum even with this support.

UCPB, headquartered in Makati, is a universal bank offering a full range of extended commercial banking services, corporate banking, international trade financing, treasury and money market operations, trust banking, investment banking and consumer financing. It has been run by government-appointed professionals since major shareholders' holdings were sequestered in 1986.

Hong Kong
Richard Lung
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Asia Pacific Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: (852) 2916-1150
SUBSCRIBERS: (852) 3551-3077

Singapore
Karolyn C. Seet
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Singapore Pte Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: (852) 2916-1150
SUBSCRIBERS: (65) 6398-8308

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