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Rating Action:

Moody's confirms Black Sea Trade and Development Bank's Baa1 ratings, outlook negative

01 Jul 2022

London, July 01, 2022 -- Moody's Investors Service ("Moody's") has today confirmed Black Sea Trade and Development Bank's (BSTDB) Baa1 long-term issuer and senior unsecured ratings and the (P)Baa1 senior unsecured MTN program rating, with a negative outlook. Concurrently, Moody's confirmed the short-term issuer rating at P-2. This concludes the review for downgrade initiated on 18 March 2022.

The confirmation of BSTDB's ratings is based on the following key drivers:

1. BSTDB's robust capital adequacy metrics should allow the bank to absorb the significant challenges posed by the Russia-Ukraine military conflict, in particular for asset quality and performance;

2. BSTDB's strong liquidity position also provides some resilience to the consequences of the conflict, notwithstanding the deterioration of market funding conditions since the start of the conflict.

More generally, the decision to confirm the rating reflects Moody's view that BSTDB's capital adequacy and liquidity positions' metrics, as well as strength of member support remain commensurate with a Baa1 rating as evidenced by the resilience of the bank's asset performance to the military conflict compared to the rating agency's expectations at the time of the last rating action and no evidence of diminished shareholders' commitment to the bank. Russia and Ukraine (Caa3 negative) together account for about 32% of development-related assets (DRA) and 30% of the bank's capital.

The negative outlook reflects Moody's view that the challenging operating environment will continue to pose risks to BSTDB's asset performance and shareholders' support. A material deterioration in BSTDB's capital adequacy, liquidity or shareholders' support, due for example to the write-off of a large share of the loans in one or both of the countries, could lead to a lower rating level.

RATINGS RATIONALE

RATIONALE FOR CONFIRMING THE Baa1 RATING

FIRST DRIVER: ROBUST CAPITAL ADEQUACY, SUPPORTED BY RESILIENT ASSET PERFORMANCE SO FAR

The first driver of the decision to confirm the ratings reflects Moody's assessment that BSTDB's capital adequacy remains solid, despite the significant challenges posed by the Russia-Ukraine military conflict.

The bank entered into the Russia-Ukraine crisis in a healthy position with strong capitalization and liquidity position, and record profitability. Asset performance had been strong last year with no reported non-performing assets as of December 2021. The leverage ratio stood at 281.8% in December 2021, increasing slightly from 274.1% in December 2020.

BSTDB's exposures to Russia and Ukraine are significant, accounting for around 20% and 12% of DRA respectively, as of end-2021. The main driver for the two-notch downgrade in March was Moody's expectation of a significant weakening in asset performance. While the ultimate impact of the military conflict on the bank's portfolio is not yet fully visible, preliminary evidence suggests some resilience of the bank's asset performance.

In the case of the Russian portfolio, although borrowers have proved willing and financially able to pay, technical delays have occurred due to the imposition of international sanctions against Russia and the need of payments' authorization from Russia. However, Moody's generally expects those delays to be temporary.

As concerns Ukraine, while some borrowers were granted a payment deferral (mostly for up to three months), the majority of them has remained current so far or resumed payments.

While downside risks will persist in the months ahead, the evolution of BSTDB's asset performance so far has not warranted a reassessment of capital adequacy resulting in a lower rating, mainly as a result of a better-than-expected performance of the Ukrainian portfolio.

BSTDB is also one of the most exposed MDBs to Turkey (B2 negative), which accounts for more than 20% of the bank's total loans. Nevertheless, the challenging operating conditions have not translated in a deterioration of the asset performance despite elevated currency volatility and high and accelerating inflation.

SECOND DRIVER: LIQUIDITY BUFFERS ARE SUFFICIENT TO WITHSTAND TEMPORARY PRESSURES

The second driver for confirming the rating is BSTDB's liquidity position, which improved in 2021 compared to 2020 and provides some resilience to the consequences of Russia-Ukraine military conflict. In Moody's view, liquidity buffers are sufficiently large to withstand lower cash inflows due to payments deferrals. Following the start of the invasion, the bank revised its growth target down and lowered new commitments, with the aim to safeguard its liquidity position.

As of mid-June, liquid assets stood at almost €450 million (including €197 million cash deposits and €250 million in highly rated securities), comfortably covering the maturities up to year-end (€94 million). Under Moody's stressed scenario liquid assets at end-2021 cover more than twice of projected net cash outflows over the next 18 months, compared to a coverage ratio of only 35% at end-2020. The scenario assumes that BSTDB has no access to markets. BSTDB's liquid asset coverage ratio at 243.8% is well above the median of Baa-rated peers which stood around 89% at end-2021.

The liquid assets coverage would remain strong even assuming only partial repayments over the reference period from Russia and Ukraine, which account for almost 20% of the projected net cash inflows.

RATIONALE FOR THE NEGATIVE OUTLOOK

The negative outlook reflects Moody's view that the challenges related to the Russia-Ukraine military conflict continue to pose risks to BSTDB's capital adequacy, liquidity, and shareholders' support.

While preliminary evidence suggests some resilience of the bank's asset performance, risks remain tilted to the downside due to the uncertainty surrounding the evolution of the military conflict, which appears to be more protracted than Moody's initially envisaged. A material increase in non-performing assets would likely lead to a weaker assessment of capital adequacy. The ultimate impact on the rating would also depend on the bank's response to such a scenario.

While BSTDB's liquid resources have remained adequate to date, supported by holdings of cash and highly rated securities, and a prudent liquidity policy, the market's perception of BSTDB has deteriorated and the cost of market funding has increased significantly. Liquidity buffers could be progressively eroded if the challenging market conditions persist into next year, constraining the ability to refinance maturing debt at reasonable cost.

BSTDB has a track record of shareholders' support in a difficult geopolitical environment, and past episodes of geopolitical tensions in the region have not materially impacted BSTDB's members' commitment to the institution. Moody's has no indication pointing to diminished commitment of the shareholders' to support the institution but will follow closely the currently ongoing general capital increase. The capital increase was announced in October 2021 and remains open until the end of September 2022. The severity of the current geopolitical tensions is unprecedented in the bank's history, and emerging evidence that a prolonged conflict weakens shareholders' commitment would weigh on Moody's assessment.

ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL AND GOVERNANCE CONSIDERATIONS

BSTDB's credit impact score is neutral-to-low (CIS-2), reflecting generally low exposure to environmental risks, low exposure to social risks, and a solid governance profile supported by a prudent framework.

The environmental issuer profile score is neutral-to-low (E-2). BSTDB's exposure to sectors affected by environmental considerations, such as the agriculture sector or sectors facing carbon transition risk, such as the oil and gas sector, is contained, with high portfolio diversification providing a mitigation.

BSTDB's neutral-to-low social issuer profile score (S-2) reflects good customer relations, as demonstrated by the until recently solid demand from its member states which are also borrowers, policies in place to safeguard responsible production, and attention to societal trends in the bank's strategy.

The neutral-to-low governance issuer profile score (G-2) is underpinned by prudent policies and improvements in the bank's risk management framework over the past decade, which supported the downward trend in non-performing assets despite a complex operating environment in the Black Sea region.

FACTORS THAT COULD LEAD TO AN UPGRADE OR DOWNGRADE OF THE RATINGS

The negative outlook suggests an upgrade is unlikely in the near term. The outlook could be changed to stable if BSTDB were to demonstrate a track record of sound asset performance amid the current challenging environment. Signs of financial support from member states including the planned capital increase would also be credit positive.

BSTDB's ratings would likely be downgraded should Moody's concluded that the deterioration in asset quality and performance materially affects its assessment of capital adequacy. A significant reduction in BSTDB liquidity buffer and/or increasing signs that access to funding sources has significantly weakened on a permanent basis, could also lead to a downgrade. Signs of diminished support from member states, or evidence that the conflict has hampered the cooperation between members, manifested for example in low appetite for the planned capital increase, would also be credit negative.

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Multilateral Development Banks and Other Supranational Entities Methodology published in October 2020 and available at https://ratings.moodys.com/api/rmc-documents/69182. Alternatively, please see the Rating Methodologies page on https://ratings.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For further specification of Moody's key rating assumptions and sensitivity analysis, see the sections Methodology Assumptions and Sensitivity to Assumptions in the disclosure form. Moody's Rating Symbols and Definitions can be found on https://ratings.moodys.com/rating-definitions.

For ratings issued on a program, series, category/class of debt or security this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series, category/class of debt, security 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 issuer/deal page for the respective issuer on https://ratings.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.

The ratings have been disclosed to the rated entity or its designated agent(s) and issued with no amendment resulting from that disclosure.

These ratings are solicited. Please refer to Moody's Policy for Designating and Assigning Unsolicited Credit Ratings available on its website https://ratings.moodys.com.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

Moody's general principles for assessing environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks in our credit analysis can be found at https://ratings.moodys.com/documents/PBC_1288235.

The Global Scale Credit Rating on this Credit Rating Announcement was issued by one of Moody's affiliates outside the EU and is endorsed by Moody's Deutschland GmbH, An der Welle 5, Frankfurt am Main 60322, Germany, in accordance with Art.4 paragraph 3 of the Regulation (EC) No 1060/2009 on Credit Rating Agencies. Further information on the EU endorsement status and on the Moody's office that issued the credit rating is available on https://ratings.moodys.com.

Please see https://ratings.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 issuer/deal page on https://ratings.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Daniela Re Fraschini
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Sovereign Risk Group
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

Alejandro Olivo
MD-Sovereign/Sub Sovereign
Sovereign Risk 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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