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Rating Action:

Moody's concludes reviews on 5 Italian banks

09 Sep 2009

Impact limited on deposit ratings -- more pronounced on BCAs

Milan, September 09, 2009 -- Moody's Investors Service today concluded its rating review for 5 Italian banks. These rating reviews had been initiated on June 18th, at which time the ratings of 21 Italian banks had been placed on review for possible downgrade. With the conclusion of these reviews all the rating actions initiated on June 18th have now been concluded.

The outcome of these rating actions was varied. One institution, UniCredit Leasing, saw its issuer rating confirmed. The remaining banks saw downgrades of the Bank Financial Strength Ratings (BFSR) which resulted in their Baseline Credit Assessments (BCA) lowered by two to three notches. However all five institutions are subsidiaries of larger banking groups, and as a result, our expectation of parental support in most cases had a limiting effect on the extent to which the deposit and debt ratings were downgraded.

"The extent to which the BCAs of these banks have been lowered is somewhat greater than was seen in our other recent rating actions on Italian banks. However this is due to the specific circumstances of these banks, as detailed later in this press release, and does not affect our general view that the Italian banking system has been significantly less affected by the financial and economic crises than has been the case in other markets" said Henry MacNevin, a Moody's Senior Vice President and Team Leader for Italian bank ratings, based in Milan.

The rating actions on the five banks are explained below:

Banca CR Firenze (Carifirenze): The BFSR was lowered to C- (Baseline Credit Assessment or BCA of Baa2) from C (BCA of A3), while the long-term deposit rating was lowered to A1 from Aa3. The Prime-1 short-term deposit rating was unaffected. All ratings have a stable outlook. According to Moody's the downgrade of the BFSR reflects the risks associated with the potential losses which may arise on the bank's loan portfolio, in the current economic downturn, and the impact this may have on the bank's financial fundamentals, including capital adequacy, although the rating agency added that it believes that the bank's parent, Intesa Sanpaolo (rated Aa2/P-1/B-), will at all times take steps to ensure that Carifirenze has sufficient capital to continue to operate normally. Carifirenze has taken on the role of providing the Intesa Sanpaolo group's commercial banking activities in Central Italy, and is undergoing considerable restructuring and change as a result of this, with the effect that the bank's current financials are not representative of the likely performance of the bank going forward. As a result of Carifirenze's strategic role for the group, Moody's factors in a very high expectation of parental support into the bank's deposit and debt ratings. This results in the bank's A1 long-term deposit rating benefiting from four notches of uplift from the Baa2 BCA.

Interbanca: the BFSR was lowered to D (BCA of Ba2) from D+ (BCA of Baa3), while the long-term deposit rating was lowered to Baa1 from A3. The Prime-2 short-term deposit rating was unaffected. All ratings have a negative outlook. Moody's said that the downgrade reflects Interbanca's impaired business model, with significant net losses in 2008 and in the first half of 2009. The bank expects that it will return to profitability only in the medium term, while Moody's said that it believes that considerable uncertainty exists with regard to the success with which the bank can indeed be restructured and returned to profitability. The rating agency added, however, that Interbanca is being integrated in the General Electric Capital Corporation group (GECC, rated Aa2/P-1), for which Interbanca is being refocused to provide selected corporate banking services to mid-sized companies in the Italian market. As such GECC sets capital ratios for Interbanca, which Moody's believes are satisfactory and likely to be maintained. The Baa1 deposit ratings incorporate a very high expectation of support from the parent GECC, resulting in four notches of uplift from the Ba2 BCA.

Santander Consumer Bank (SCB): the BFSR was lowered to D+ (BCA of Baa3) from C (BCA of A3), while the long-term deposit and senior debt ratings were lowered to Baa1 from A1 and the short-term debt and deposit ratings were downgraded to Prime-2 from Prime-1. The outlook on all ratings is negative. According to Moody's the downgrade of the BFSR reflects the expectation of further asset quality deterioration in the context of the riskier consumer finance business compared to traditional retail banking, leading to higher credit losses than previously incorporated in the institution's ratings and straining its profitability and already modest capitalisation. In addition, Moody's said that its expectation of weaker revenue generation capacity could also affect SCB's profitability going forward. The rating agency added that it continues to see a moderate likelihood of parental support from its ultimate parent, Spain's Banco Santander (rated Aa2/P-1/B-), and a low likelihood of systemic support, for SCB, thus resulting in a two-notch uplift from its BCA of Baa3 to its Baa1 long-term deposit rating.

UniCredit Family Financing Bank SpA(UCFF): the BFSR was lowered to C- (BCA of Baa1) from C+ (BCA of A2), while the long-term deposit rating was lowered to A1 from Aa3. All ratings have a stable outlook. Moody's said that the downgrade of the BFSR reflects the likelihood that, in the current recession in Italy, there is likely to be a sharp deterioration in asset quality, which will also affect the residential mortgage sector, in which UCFF operates, and that this is likely to impact the bank's profitability and capital adequacy. The rating agency however added that the current BCA reflects its expectation that UCFF's parent, UniCredit (rated Aa3/P-1/C), will ensure that the bank remains well capitalised at all times. The bank's A1 long-term deposit rating factors in a very high expectation of parental support from UniCredit, resulting in three notches of uplift from the bank's Baa1 BCA.

Unicredit Leasing: the issuer rating was confirmed at A1 while the Prime-1 short-term issuer rating was unaffected. All ratings have a stable outlook. According to Moody's, however, Unicredit Leasing has become more weakly positioned within its rating category, given its deteriorating asset quality and profitability and sensitivity to a worse-than-expected scenario for loan losses. The rating agency added that confirmation of Unicredit Leasing's rating reflects Moody's belief that Unicredit (rated Aa3/P-1/C) will maintain its subsidiary adequately capitalised.

Rating action summary:

Banca CR Firenze Spa: long-term deposits and senior unsecured debt downgraded to A1 from Aa3; subordinated debt downgraded to A2 from A1; Tier III debt downgraded to A2 from A1; bank financial strength rating downgraded to C- from C.

Interbanca Spa: long-term deposits and senior unsecured debt downgraded to Baa1 from A3; subordinated debt downgraded to Baa2 from Baa1; bank financial strength rating downgraded to D from D+.

Santander Consumer Bank Spa: long term deposit rating downgraded to Baa1 from A1; senior unsecured debt downgraded to Baa1 from A1; subordinated debt downgraded to Baa2 from A2; bank financial strength rating downgraded to D+ from C; short-term debt and deposit ratings downgraded to Prime-2 from Prime-1.

UniCredit Family Financing Bank SpA: long-term deposits downgraded to A1 from Aa3; bank financial strength rating downgraded to C- from C+.

Unicredit Leasing: A1 issuer rating confirmed.

The principal methodologies used in rating the issuers mentioned in this press release are "Bank Financial Strength Ratings: Global Methodology" published in February 2007 and "Incorporation of Joint-Default Analysis into Moody's Bank Ratings: A Refined Methodology", published in March 2007. They are available on www.moodys.com in the Rating Methodologies sub-directory under the Research and Ratings tab. Other methodologies and factors that may have been considered in the process of rating these issuers can also be found in the Ratings Methodologies sub-directory on Moody's website.

The last rating action on these five banks was on June 18th 2009, when their ratings were put under review for possible downgrade.

Banca CR Firenze is headquartered in Florence, Italy. At December 31st 2008 it had total assets of EUR 40 billion.

Interbanca is headquartered in Milan, Italy. At June 30th 2009 it had total assets of EUR 6.5 billion.

Santander Consumer Bank is headquartered in Turin, Italy. At December 31st 2008 it had total assets of about EUR 8 billion.

UniCredit Family Financing Bank SpA is headquartered in Milan, Italy. At December 31t 2008 it had total assets of EUR 100.2 billion.

Unicredit Leasing is headquartered in Milan, Italy. At December 31st 2008 it had total assets of EUR 21 billion.

Milan
Henry MacNevin
Senior Vice President
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
Telephone:+39-02-9148-1100

Milan
Carlo Gori
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
Telephone:+39-02-9148-1100

Moody's concludes reviews on 5 Italian banks
No Related Data.
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