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Rating Action:

Moody's confirms Santander UK PLC's long term deposit ratings at A1 and upgrades senior debt rating to A1; outlook stable

16 Sep 2015

Standalone BCA upgraded to a3 from baa1

London, 16 September 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service has today confirmed Santander UK PLC's (SAN UK) deposit ratings at A1 and upgraded its senior debt ratings to A1 from A2. At the same time, the rating agency upgraded the bank's standalone baseline credit assessment (BCA) to a3 from baa1, while the senior subordinated rating and junior subordinated ratings were upgraded to Baa1 and Baa2(hyb) respectively from Baa2 and Baa3(hyb).

"The rating actions take into account two main factors: firstly our upgrade of SAN UK's standalone Baseline Credit Assessment, which was driven by improvements in the bank's leverage ratio, as calculated by Moody's, and asset quality metrics, and secondly a change in one of the assumptions we use in our Advanced Loss Given Failure Analysis" said Dany Castiglione, Moody's lead analyst on SAN UK.

"The bank 's leverage ratio, as calculated by Moody's, points to a rising amount of capital covering assets, increasing to 4.9% at the end of the first half of 2015, from 4.2% at the end of 2014, following the issuance of GBP750 million Additional Tier 1 notes in June and an increase in net profits during the first six months of 2015. We expect this ratio to further improve, to more than 5% by the end of this year. Moreover, we lowered the assumption of deposits considered junior to 10% from 26%. This led to the confirmation of the long-term deposit rating rather than its upgrade, as for the other ratings" said Dany Castiglione.

Concurrently, Moody's upgraded the bank's long term Counterparty Risk Assessment (CR Assessment) to Aa2(cr) from Aa3(cr). The bank's short term deposit ratings and its short-term CR assessment were affirmed at P-1 and P-1(cr) respectively. Additionally, the agency upgraded the issuer rating of Santander UK Group Holdings plc (HoldCo), SAN UK's holding company, to Baa1 from Baa2.

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

This rating action concludes the review on the deposit ratings initiated on 17 March 2015 and extended on 5 June 2015, and it concludes the review on the BCA and adjusted BCA initiated on 5 June 2015. Additionally, this action concludes the review on the issuer rating of HoldCo initiated on 5 June 2015.

RATINGS RATIONALE

The upgrade of SAN UK's BCA was driven by improvements in the bank's asset quality metrics and leverage ratio. Moody's, which calculates the latter as Tangible Common Equity over Tangible Assets (TCE/TA), expects the leverage ratio to continue to strengthen this year.

SAN UK's asset quality metrics are improving on the back of a decrease in problem loans. As of June 2015, the bank's problem loans accounted for just 0.8% of the gross loans, one of the lowest ratios among UK rated financial institutions, with a high coverage ratio of 89%. The bank is increasing its exposure to small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) and corporates, which could increase the bank's risk profile and worsen its asset quality metrics over time, but exposure to these sectors is expected to remain modest overall.

SAN UK's profitability remains characterized by strong earnings generation capacity, owing to its solid franchise in the UK as the fifth largest financial institution in the country, and low earnings volatility, on the back of its mainly retail-driven business model. In 1H 2015 the bank's Net Income over Tangible Asset was adequate at 0.6% and the level of SAN UK's profitability will likely remain sustainable, also owing to the fact that the bank's profitability has not been materially affected by conduct and litigation related charges as compared to other large UK rated peers. However, Moody's notes that the bank has limited earnings diversity, with net interest income still accounting for a large part of total revenues, and moderately low efficiency, with cost-to-income ratio slightly higher compared to rated peers.

The bank continues to strengthen its retail banking franchise, with a growing customer and deposit base resulting from its "1-2-3" Current Account strategy. Furthermore, Moody's sees SAN UK's wholesale funding as diversified, both in terms of instruments used and market access, since the bank taps the European and the US wholesale debt markets on a regular basis. Its wholesale funding is primarily composed of secured, long-term funding which is less sensitive to swings in investors' confidence. However, albeit declining, the bank's reliance on wholesale funds, measured as market funds on tangible banking assets (TBA), remains high at 27.5% at end-June 2015. SAN UK continues to maintain a comfortable liquid position, with liquid assets accounting for a good 21% of TBA at end-1H2015.

RATIONALE FOR THE DEPOSIT AND SENIOR UNSECURED RATINGS

The confirmation of SAN UK's long-term deposit rating at A1, the upgrade of senior unsecured debt ratings to A1 from A2, and the affirmation of the short-term deposit ratings at Prime-1 are based on the bank's BCA and the results of Moody's Advanced Loss Given Failure (LGF) Analysis.

SAN UK is subject to an Operational Resolution Regime through the UK implementation of the EU Bank Resolution and Recovery Directive. Moody's has used the following assumptions: residual tangible common equity of 3% and 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. These assumptions are in line with the standard assumptions used by Moody's for most banks. Following a more detailed analysis of SAN UK's deposit base, the agency lowered the assumption of deposits considered junior to 10% from the standard 26%, because most of the bank's deposits are made up of non bail-in-able retail and SME deposit funding.

Based upon the above, Moody's Advanced LGF Analysis indicates that SAN UK's deposits are likely to face low loss-given failure, due to the loss absorption provided by subordinated debt and, potentially, by senior unsecured debt should deposits be treated preferentially in a resolution, as well as the substantial volume of deposits and senior debt themselves. This results in a Preliminary Rating Assessment (PRA) of a2 for both deposits and senior debt, one notch above the BCA. The change in the assumption on the level of junior deposits to 10% from 26% is the reason of the confirmation of the long-term deposit rating rather than its upgrade like other ratings. Lowering the assumption to 10% means that deposits now have a smaller volume, hence a reduced ability to sustain losses in a resolution. According to the agency's methodology, this translates into a lower notching.

SAN UK's senior unsecured debt, issued at bank's level, is likely to face a low loss-given-failure due to the loss absorption provided by its own volume and the amount of debt subordinated to it. This results in a PRA of a2, one notch above the BCA.

Moody's assumption of a moderate probability of government support for SAN UK's creditors results in a one-notch uplift to the PRA, and a long-term deposit rating of A1. The agency assigns the same support probability to bank-level senior unsecured debt, resulting in a senior unsecured rating of A1.

RATIONALE FOR THE CR ASSESSMENT

As part of today's action, Moody's also upgraded SAN UK's long-term CR Assessment to Aa2(cr) from Aa3(cr), four notches above the BCA of a3. The short-term CR Assessment has been affirmed at P-1(cr). The CR Assessment is driven by the banks' standalone assessment and by the considerable amount of subordinated instruments likely to shield counterparty obligations from losses, accounting for three notches of uplift relative to the BCA, as well as one notch of government support, in line with the agency's support assumptions on the bank's deposits and senior unsecured debt.

RATIONALE FOR THE STABLE OUTLOOK

The stable outlook on SAN UK deposit and senior unsecured ratings reflects the improvements in the bank's solvency profile and more generally in its credit fundamentals. These elements, together with the improvements in its franchise and balance sheet risk, should support some level of deterioration in its arrears which may result from a higher interest-rate economic environment and an greater proportion of SME lending in its loan portfolio.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

The BCA could be upgraded if SAN UK: (1) decreases its reliance on market funds in a sustainable way; (2) maintains its strong asset quality despite growth in its SME lending portfolio; and (3) continues to improve its solvency profile through satisfactory internal capital generation. A positive change in SAN UK's BCA would likely affect all ratings. SAN UK's deposit and senior debt ratings could also be upgraded if the bank or its holding company were to issue significant amounts of long-term debt and more subordinated debt.

The bank's BCA could be downgraded because of: (1) significant deterioration of SAN UK's asset quality metrics; (2) material weakening of profitability, which would reduce the bank's loss-absorption capacity; and (3) deterioration in the bank's funding and liquidity position, including a further reduction in the quantity or quality of its liquidity buffer. A downward movement in SAN UK's BCA would likely result in downgrades of all ratings.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

Issuer: Santander UK PLC

.... Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment , Upgraded to a3 from baa1

.... Baseline Credit Assessment , Upgraded to a3 from baa1

.... Counterparty Risk Assessment , Upgraded to Aa2(cr) from Aa3(cr)

.... Counterparty Risk Assessment , Affirmed P-1(cr)

.... Long-term Bank Deposit Ratings, Confirmed A1 Stable

.... Short-term Bank Deposit Ratings, Affirmed P-1

.... Long-term Issuer Rating , Upgraded to A1 Stable from A2 Ratings Under Review

.... Senior Unsecured Shelf, Upgraded to (P)A1 from (P)A2 Ratings Under Review

.... Backed Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture, Upgraded to Baa1 from Baa2 Ratings Under Review

.... Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture, Upgraded to Baa1 from Baa2 Ratings Under Review

.... Subordinated Medium-Term Note Program, Upgraded to (P)Baa1 from (P)Baa2 Ratings Under Review

.... Subordinate Shelf, Upgraded to (P)Baa1 from (P)Baa2 Ratings Under Review

.... Junior Subordinated Regular Bond/Debenture, Upgraded to Baa2(hyb) from Baa3(hyb) Ratings Under Review

.... Junior Subordinated Shelf, Upgraded to (P)Baa2 from (P)Baa3 Ratings Under Review

.... Pref. Stock, Upgraded to Baa2(hyb) from Baa3(hyb) Ratings Under Review

.... Pref. Stock Non-cumulative, Upgraded to Baa3(hyb) from Ba1(hyb) Ratings Under Review

....Outlook, Stable

Issuer: Santander UK Group Holdings plc

....Long-term Issuer Rating, Upgraded to Baa1 Stable from Baa2 Ratings Under Review

....Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Upgraded to (P)Baa1 from (P)Baa2 Ratings Under Review

....Subordinated Medium-Term Note Program, Upgraded to (P)Baa1 from (P)Baa2 Ratings Under Review

....Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture, Upgraded to Baa1 from Baa2 Ratings Under Review

....Pref. Stock Non-cumulative Preferred Stock, Affirmed Ba2(hyb)

....Short-term Program, Affirmed (P)P-2

....Outlook, Stable

Issuer: Abbey National Treasury Services plc

....Long-term Bank Deposit Rating, Confirmed A1 Stable

....Short-term Bank Deposit Rating, Affirmed P-1

....Counterparty Risk Assessment, Upgraded to Aa2(cr) from Aa3(cr)

....Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed P-1(cr)

....Backed Senior Unsecured Deposit Note/Takedown, Confirmed A1 Stable

....Senior Unsecured Shelf, Upgraded to (P)A1 from (P)A2 Ratings Under Review

....Backed Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Upgraded to A1 Stable from A2 Ratings Under Review

....Backed Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Upgraded to (P)A1 from (P)A2 Ratings Under Review

....Backed Senior Unsecured Shelf, Upgraded to (P)A1 from (P)A2 Ratings Under Review

....Backed Subordinated Medium-Term Note Program, Upgraded to (P)Baa1 from (P)Baa2 Ratings Under Review

....Backed preference Shelf, Upgraded to (P)Baa3 from (P)Ba1 Ratings Under Review

... Backed Senior Unsecured Deposit Note/Takedown, Affirmed P-1

....Backed Short-term Program, Affirmed (P)P-1

....Backed Senior Unsecured Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-1

....Outlook, Stable

Issuer: AN Structured Issues Limited

....Backed Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Upgraded to (P)A1 from (P)A2 Ratings Under Review

....Backed Short-term Program, Affirmed (P)P-1

....Outlook, Stable

Issuer: Abbey National Capital LP I

....Backed Pref. Stock Non-cumulative Preferred Stock, Upgraded to Baa3(hyb) from Ba1(hyb) Ratings Under Review

Issuer: Abbey National Capital LP II

....Backed Pref. Stock Shelf, Upgraded to (P)Baa3 from (P)Ba1 Ratings Under Review

Issuer: Abbey National Capital Trust I

....Backed Pref. Stock Non-cumulative, Upgraded to Baa3(hyb) from Ba1(hyb) Ratings Under Review

Issuer: Abbey National Capital Trust II

....Backed Pref. Stock Shelf, Upgraded to (P)Baa3 from (P)Ba1 Ratings Under Review

Issuer: Abbey National North America LLC

....Backed Senior Unsecured Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-1

Issuer: Abbey National Treasury International Ltd.

....Backed Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Upgraded to (P)A1 from (P)A2 Ratings Under Review

....Backed Short-term Program, Affirmed (P)P-1

....Outlook, Stable

Issuer: Abbey National Treasury Services plc (Paris)

....Counterparty Risk Assessment, Upgraded to Aa2(cr) from Aa3(cr)

....Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed P-1(cr)

....Backed Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Upgraded to (P)A1 from (P)A2 Ratings Under Review

... Backed Short-term Program, Affirmed (P)P-1

....Outlook, Stable

Issuer: Abbey National Treasury Services PLC (US Br.)

.... Counterparty Risk Assessment, Upgraded to Aa2(cr) from Aa3(cr)

.... Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed P-1(cr)

.....Backed Senior Unsecured Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-1

Issuer: Alliance & Leicester plc

....Long-term Bank Deposit Ratings, Confirmed A1 Stable

....Long-term Issuer Rating, Upgraded to A1 Stable from A2 Ratings Under Review

....Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, Upgraded to (P)A1 from (P)A2 Ratings Under Review

....Subordinated Regular Bond/Debenture, Upgraded to Baa1 from Baa2 Ratings Under Review

....Subordinate Medium-Term Note Program, Upgraded to (P)Baa1 from (P)Baa2 Ratings Under Review

....Junior Subordinated Medium-Term Note Program, Upgraded to (P)Baa2 from (P)Baa3 Ratings Under Review

....Pref. Stock, Upgraded to Baa2(hyb) from Baa3(hyb) Ratings Under Review

....Outlook, Stable

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.

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.

Dany Castiglione
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
One Canada Square
Canary Wharf
London E14 5FA
United Kingdom
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Nicholas Hill
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 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
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's confirms Santander UK PLC's long term deposit ratings at A1 and upgrades senior debt rating to A1; outlook stable
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