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Rating Action:

Moody's confirms Novo Banco's deposit rating at B2 and upgrades senior unsecured rating to B2; outlook developing

08 Jul 2015

Madrid, July 08, 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service has today confirmed Novo Banco S.A.'s and its supported entities' long-term deposit ratings at B2 and has upgraded the long-term senior unsecured debt ratings to B2 from B3. The outlook on the deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings is developing. Furthermore, Moody's assigned to Novo Banco a Counterparty Risk Assessment (CR Assessment) of B1(cr)/Not Prime(cr).

At the same time, Moody's affirmed the bank's short-term deposit and backed commercial paper ratings at Not Prime, and the standalone baseline credit assessment (BCA) at caa2.

The review on the bank's deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings was initiated on 12 August 2014 and extended on 24 November 2014 and again on 28 May 2015 (see press release "Moody's upgrades Novo Banco's BCA to caa2; deposit and senior debt ratings remain on review direction uncertain" ((https://www.moodys.com/research/--PR_326203)). Today's conclusion follows the publication of Moody's new bank rating methodology and reviewed government support assumptions.

Please refer to this link for the new methodology: https://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_179038

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

RATINGS RATIONALE

--- RATIONALE FOR THE BCA

Moody's said that the affirmation of Novo Banco's standalone BCA of caa2 reflects its weak risk-absorption capacity, despite above-average provisioning coverage (loan loss reserves as a proportion of non-performing loans stood at 77.8% at year-end 2014). The weak risk absorption is due mainly to the bank's modest capital buffers (phased-in Common Equity Tier 1 ratio of 9.5% at year-end 2014) that are challenged by the bank's deteriorating asset-quality metrics (non-performing loan ratio reached 16.5% at year-end 2014 compared with the system's average of 12.0%) and large losses booked in 2014 (EUR497.6 million). Novo Banco's standalone BCA also reflects its (1) weak liquidity position, despite visible improvements in restoring customer confidence and the generation of liquidity through asset sales and balance-sheet deleveraging; and (2) its status as a bridge bank, with the associated high degree of uncertainty around future strategy together with the remaining risk that not all the underlying causes of Banco Espirito Santo S.A.'s (BES; unrated) failure have yet been resolved.

--- RATIONALE FOR THE DEPOSIT AND SENIOR UNSECURED RATING

Moody's says that the confirmation of Novo Banco's deposit ratings and the upgrade of the senior unsecured debt ratings derive from the affirmation of bank's standalone BCA at caa2, the introduction of the rating agency's Advanced Loss Given Failure (LGF) analysis, and revised government support assumptions.

Novo Banco is subject to the European Bank Resolution and Recovery Directive, which Moody's considers to be an Operational Resolution Regime. Accordingly, Moody's applies its Advanced LGF analysis to these banks' liability structures, thereby mostly applying its standard assumptions. These assumptions include a residual tangible common equity of 3%, losses post-failure of 8% of tangible banking assets, a 25% run-off in junior wholesale deposits, a 5% run-off in preferred deposits, and a 25% probability of deposits being preferred to senior unsecured debt. Because Moody's assumes that Novo Banco's deposit base is essentially retail in nature, it considers a proportion of 10% of junior deposits below the estimated EU-wide average of 26%. The Advanced LGF analysis results in a "very low" loss-given-failure for long-term junior deposits as well as senior debt ratings, reflecting the bank's substantial volume of deposit funding as well as the amount of senior debt and securities more subordinated to it.

In addition to the effects of the new methodology on the banks' ratings, Moody's has lowered its expectations about the degree of government support for Novo Banco. The main trigger for this reassessment is the introduction of the Bank Resolution and Recovery Directive in the European Union in January 2015. Moody's has reduced its assumption of government support for Novo Banco to moderate from very high, leading to one notch of uplift from three notches for deposits and two notches for senior debt previously.

--- RATIONALE FOR THE DEVELOPING OUTLOOK

Novo Banco's deposit and senior debt ratings have a developing outlook that reflects the uncertainties around the outcome of the sale process in which the bank is currently immersed that could affect Moody's final assessment of the deposits and senior debt ratings.

In late 2014, Bank of Portugal, as the Portuguese resolution authority, started to promote the sale by the Resolution Fund of Novo Banco and requested banks to submit expressions of interest. On 30 June 2015, Bank of Portugal stated that three entities had presented binding offers for Novo Banco and that it will review such proposals during the next weeks.

Successfully selling Novo Banco to a financially strong buyer with strategic interests could benefit the bank's financial profile and business prospects and support its recovery following last year's resolution. At the same time, Moody's would re-assess its current government support assumptions once Novo Banco's ownership changes. Conversely, a failure to comply with the European Commission's state aid ruling, which requires a divestment of Novo Banco by August 2016, would result in the final liquidation of the bank under the ownership of the Resolution Fund with potentially more uncertainty and heightened risks to creditors.

The developing outlook also reflects the evolving composition of Novo Banco's balance sheet (i.e., ongoing reduction in tangible banking assets and debt amortizations), which could affect Moody's LGF assessment and therefore change the current two notches of uplift for the bank's deposit and senior debt ratings.

--- RATIONALE FOR THE CR ASSESSMENT

As part of today's actions, Moody's has assigned a B1(cr)/Not Prime(cr) CR Assessment to Novo Banco and its branches. Novo Banco's CR Assessment is driven by the bank's caa2 BCA and by substantial bail-in-able debt and deposits likely to support the operating obligations. The bank's CR Assessment also benefits from one notch of systemic support, in line with Moody's support assumptions on deposits and senior unsecured debt.

The CR Assessment, which is not a rating, reflects an issuer's probability of defaulting on certain bank operating liabilities, such as covered bonds, derivatives, letters of credit and other contractual commitments. In assigning the CR Assessment, Moody's evaluates the issuer's standalone strength and the likelihood, should the need arise, of affiliate and government support, as well as the anticipated seniority of counterparty obligations under Moody's Advanced LGF framework. The CR Assessment also assumes that authorities will likely take steps to preserve the continuity of a bank's key operations, maintain payment flows, and avoid contagion should the bank enter a resolution.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

Upward pressure on Novo Banco's deposits and senior debt ratings could arise if the bank is acquired by a financial strong and strategic buyer as senior creditors could benefit from measures aimed at strengthening the bank's financial fundamentals as well as affiliate support.

An improvement of the BCA could result from a clear improvement in the bank's capital buffers, a reduction in the stock of problematic assets, a sustainable recovery in Novo Banco's profitability and regaining market funding access. Any significant macroeconomic growth for Portugal beyond Moody's central scenario of 1.7% GDP growth in 2015 could underpin signs of a turnaround and exert positive pressure on the ratings.

Downward pressure on Novo Banco's deposits and senior debt ratings could result from (1) a final buyer's strategy for the bank triggering a substantial downsizing in the balance sheet perimeter, which could heighten risks for senior creditors; (2) the Portuguese Resolution Fund failing to conclude the bank's sale process before August 2016 and the bank entering liquidation; and (3) changes in Moody's LGF analysis that could derive from a variation in the bank's asset and liability structure.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

Upgrades:

..Issuer: Novo Banco, S.A.

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Upgraded to B2 developing from B3 Rating under Review

..Issuer: BES Finance Ltd.

....Backed Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Upgraded to B2 developing from B3 Rating under Review

..Issuer: Novo Banco S.A., London Branch

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Upgraded to B2 developing from B3 Rating under Review

..Issuer: Novo Banco S.A., Luxembourg Branch

....Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Upgraded to B2 developing from B3 Rating under Review

Confirmations:

..Issuer: Novo Banco, S.A.

....Long-term Bank Deposit Rating, Confirmed at B2, outlook developing

..Issuer: Novo Banco S.A., London Branch

....Long-term Bank Deposit Rating, Confirmed at B2, outlook developing

..Issuer: Novo Banco S.A., Luxembourg Branch

....Long-term Bank Deposit Rating, Confirmed at B2, outlook developing

..Issuer: Novo Banco, S.A., Cayman Branch

....Long-term Bank Deposit Rating, Confirmed at B2, outlook developing

..Issuer: Novo Banco, S.A., Madeira Branch

....Long-term Bank Deposit Rating, Confirmed at B2, outlook developing

Affirmations:

..Issuer: Novo Banco, S.A.

.... Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed caa2

.... Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed caa2

.... Short-term Bank Deposit Rating, Affirmed NP

.... Commercial Paper, Affirmed NP

..Issuer: Novo Banco S.A., London Branch

.... Short-term Bank Deposit Rating, Affirmed NP

.... Deposit Note/CD Program, Affirmed NP

..Issuer: Novo Banco S.A., Luxembourg Branch

.... Short-term Bank Deposit Rating, Affirmed NP

..Issuer: Novo Banco, S.A., Cayman Branch

.... Short-term Bank Deposit Rating, Affirmed NP

..Issuer: Novo Banco, S.A., Madeira Branch

.... Short-term Bank Deposit Rating, Affirmed NP

Assignments:

..Issuer: Novo Banco, S.A.

.... Long-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Assigned B1(cr)

.... Short-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Assigned NP(cr)

..Issuer: Novo Banco S.A., London Branch

.... Long-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Assigned B1(cr)

.... Short-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Assigned NP(cr)

..Issuer: Novo Banco S.A., Luxembourg Branch

.... Long-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Assigned B1(cr)

.... Short-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Assigned NP(cr)

..Issuer: Novo Banco, S.A., Cayman Branch

.... Long-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Assigned B1(cr)

.... Short-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Assigned NP(cr)

..Issuer: Novo Banco, S.A., Madeira Branch

.... Long-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Assigned B1(cr)

.... Short-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, Assigned NP(cr)

Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Changed To Developing From Rating Under Review

..Issuer: Novo Banco, S.A.

..Issuer: BES Finance Ltd.

..Issuer: Novo Banco S.A., London Branch

..Issuer: Novo Banco S.A., Luxembourg Branch

..Issuer: Novo Banco, S.A., Cayman Branch

..Issuer: Novo Banco, S.A., Madeira Branch

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Banks published in March 2015. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

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 rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular 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 rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this 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 following information supplements Disclosure 10 ("Information Relating to Conflicts of Interest as required by Paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(J) of SEC Rule 17g-7") in the regulatory disclosures made at the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for each credit rating as indicated:

Moody's was not paid for services other than determining a credit rating in the most recently ended fiscal year by the person(s) that paid Moody's to determine this credit rating.

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.

Maria Jose Mori
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Espana, S.A.
Calle Principe de Vergara, 131, 6 Planta
Madrid 28002
Spain
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Carola Schuler
MD - Banking
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Espana, S.A.
Calle Principe de Vergara, 131, 6 Planta
Madrid 28002
Spain
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's confirms Novo Banco's deposit rating at B2 and upgrades senior unsecured rating to B2; outlook developing
No Related Data.
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