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Rating Action:

Moody's downgrades BSI AG's long-term ratings to Baa1 from A3; assigns stable outlook

25 Mar 2014

BSI AG's standalone financial strength rating also lowered to C- from C, outlook stable

Frankfurt am Main, March 25, 2014 -- Moody's Investors Service has today downgraded BSI AG's local and foreign currency deposit ratings by one notch to Baa1, from A3. At the same time, the rating agency lowered the bank's standalone bank financial strength rating (BFSR) to C- , equivalent to a baseline credit assessment (BCA) of baa1, from C/a3 previously. The outlook on all ratings is stable. The Prime-2 short-term ratings have been affirmed.

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

RATINGS RATIONALE

-- DOWNGRADE OF THE BFSR

The downgrade of the bank's standalone BFSR/BCA by one notch to C-/baa1 from C/a3 reflects Moody's assessment of the limited recurring earnings power of BSI AG resulting from continued pressures on the bank's revenue base in a difficult operating environment for private bank franchises in Switzerland and globally, characterized by persistent low interest-rates as well as subdued gross margins from increased client conservatism. The rating agency also notes BSI AG's relatively high cost base.

Moreover, Moody's notes increased uncertainty about the extended sale process for BSI AG and the wider BSI Group (unrated) launched by its ultimate parent Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A. (insurance financial strength rating Baa1 stable) in 2012, specifically regarding the sustainability of customer relationships as well as franchise value at the bank and the group. All of this could potentially negatively affect BSI AG's recently stable development of assets under management (AuM) and thus its earnings base.

The downgrade of BSI AG's standalone credit assessment further captures BSI AG's business risks and susceptibility to bank secrecy probes -- specifically with regards to US clients in its private banking business -- that, albeit considered moderate, could trigger penalties that may be significant compared with BSI AG's net profits and capital position in an adverse scenario.

However, the rating also reflects (1) BSI AG's relatively stable franchise development to date despite the ongoing sale process; (2) the relatively low risk profile of its balance sheet; (3) the bank's solid capital adequacy ratios providing significant loss absorption capacity.

-- DOWNGRADE OF LONG-TERM RATINGS

BSI AG's Baa1/Prime-2 long- and short-term deposit ratings are mapped directly from the bank's baa1 BCA, without receiving any uplift. This reflects the rating agency's assessment of a very low likelihood of parental support from its parent Generali in light of its unchanged intention to divest BSI. In addition, and given the insurance group's similar credit profile, BSI's ratings do not benefit from parental rating uplift. Additionally, Moody's believes that there is a low probability of systemic support for BSI, in case of need.

-- RATIONALE FOR THE STABLE OUTLOOK ON THE BFSR AND THE LONG-TERM RATINGS

The stable outlook on BSI AG's BFSR reflects the rating agency's view that all currently foreseen risks are now captured within the current credit rating. In addition, Moody's believes that potential pressures on the bank's standalone credit profile -- and thus its long-term ratings -- are mitigated by the bank's solid capital buffers and its ample liquidity metrics.

-- WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

Upwards pressure on BSI AG's ratings could develop if the bank (1) significantly and sustainably improves its profitability and efficiency metrics; (2) continuously grows AuM as well as net new money despite Generali's announced divestment strategy; (3) further improves its asset quality metrics, thereby achieving a problem loan ratio in-line with its closest private banking peers; and (4) consequently sustains its already sound capitalisation.

The bank's ratings could come under pressure from (1) any sustained weakening of its recurring earnings power and levels of operating efficiency, especially if caused by any major loss in market share or an erosion of the bank's private banking and wealth management franchise; (2) material asset-quality deterioration beyond levels that are consistent with the bank's risk absorption capacity, especially if this is based on unforeseen elevated risk charges on its loan book or securities investments; (3) higher-than-anticipated charges in relation to bank secrecy probes which have the potential for weakening the bank's solid capitalisation and/or (4) an extended sale process that negatively affects AuM growth and/or franchise stability.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

BSI AG:

The following ratings were downgraded:

- BFSR to C-, from C

- Long-term bank deposit ratings (local and foreign currency) to Baa1, from A3

The following ratings were affirmed:

- Short-term bank deposit ratings (local and foreign currency) at Prime-2

All ratings carry a stable outlook.

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in this rating was Global Banks published in May 2013. 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.

Michael Rohr
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
An der Welle 5
Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany
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 Deutschland GmbH
An der Welle 5
Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's downgrades BSI AG's long-term ratings to Baa1 from A3; assigns stable outlook
No Related Data.
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