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Rating Action:

Moody's downgrades Credit Foncier's BFSR to D; affirms Aa3 ratings

18 Nov 2011

Prime-1 short-term ratings affirmed

Paris, November 18, 2011 -- Moody's Investors Service has today downgraded the standalone Bank Financial Strength Rating (BFSR) of Credit Foncier de France (CFF) to D, mapping to Ba2 on the long-term scale, from D+ (Baa3). The outlook on CFF's BFSR was changed to negative from stable. The BFSR downgrade was prompted by the large losses reported by the bank during the second and third quarters of this year on its Greek government bond holdings, which required capital injections from its parent BPCE (Aa3/P-1/C- stable outlook). The downgrade of CFF's BFSR to D reflects our concerns over the weak capitalisation of the bank in relation to its risk profile. In Moody's view, the required support from BPCE reveals key stand-alone weaknesses of CFF, which are better reflected by a BFSR of D.

At the same time, Moody's affirmed CFF's Aa3 long-term deposit ratings with a stable outlook and the Prime-1 short-term deposit ratings. The affirmation of these ratings reflects Moody's view that CFF continues to benefit from a very high probability of parental support, which underpins CFF's Aa3 deposit ratings (reflecting an eight-notch rating uplift from its Ba2 standalone credit strength).

RATINGS RATIONALE

WEAK CAPITALISATION RELATIVE TO CREDIT RISK EXPOSURES

The downgrade of CFF's BFSR to D from D+ was mainly driven by the large losses that CFF reported on its Greek government bond holdings. In its third quarter results, Groupe BPCE announced cumulative impairments of EUR867 million on its Greek sovereign exposures, corresponding to a 60% haircut on the nominal value and additional losses on related swaps transactions. This exposure, totaling EUR1.2 billion at end-September 2011, is mainly on CFF's balance sheet.

To cover these losses, CFF required the financial support of its parent BPCE in the form of shareholder advances. A capital injection of EUR470 million was completed during the third quarter of 2011 and a further injection of EUR500 million is expected to take place before the end of 2011.

Although we expect BPCE's financial support to strengthen CFF's financial position following these impairment charges, we believe that the bank's capital buffer remains light in relation to some of its higher risk exposures, in particular the large holdings of bonds issued by peripheral Euro area countries and structured finance securities (including Spanish and Italian RMBS). In Moody's view, CFF's capitalisation and these risks are more appropriately reflected by a BFSR of D, mapping to Ba2.

The negative outlook on the D BFSR reflects Moody's view that the bank's profitability is likely to be constrained going forward and this will further restrict CFF's ability to generate capital. Moody's believes that CFF's profitability may suffer as a result of the following factors:

(i) Persistent adverse conditions in the credit market. CFF is entirely wholesale-funded and is one the largest issuers of covered bonds. Consequently CFF remains vulnerable to market disruptions, which have also affected the covered bond markets over recent months, although to a much lesser extent. CFF's activities may suffer from prolonged adverse conditions in the debt market, possibly leading to changes in its business model that may impact the franchise and ultimately its long-term profitability.

(ii) A weakening French economy and housing market. As a specialised real estate lender, CFF is vulnerable to a slowdown of the French economy and its housing market. As highlighted in Moody's special comment "French Banks: Ability to Absorb Moderate House Price Correction, but Risks Increase" published in June 2011, the rating agency see signs of overheating in the French housing market, which could potentially lead to lower property prices. Housing activity in France may also reduce due to changes in the tax regime as part of the French government's austerity measures. This, coupled with weak economic prospects could exert further pressure on the quality of CFF's loan portfolio.

Despite these negative factors, Moody's recognises CFF's established franchise and expertise in French regulated mortgages and in the social housing market segments. Although Moody's does not have any specific immediate concerns over the liquidity position of CFF, the rating agency will continue to assess the longer-term effects of the sustained difficult conditions of the debt markets on CFF.

SENIOR DEBT RATINGS AFFIRMED WITH A STABLE OUTLOOK

A very high probability of parental support continues to underpin CFF's Aa3 long-term deposit ratings, resulting in an eight-notch uplift from its Ba2 standalone credit strength. As an affiliated member of Groupe BPCE, CFF benefits from the strong solidarity mechanisms in place within the group, notably that BPCE is responsible by law for ensuring the liquidity and solvency of any affiliated member. The stable outlook on CFF's Aa3 long-term deposit rating is in line with BPCE's stable outlook and reflects (i) Moody's view of expected mutual support from Groupe BPCE and, (ii) the indirect high systemic support through the parent.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING UP / DOWN

As evidenced by the current negative outlook on the BFSR, an upgrade of CFF's BFSR rating is unlikely. An upgrade of CFF's long-term deposit ratings would mainly depend on Moody's assessment of how Groupe BPCE's creditworthiness evolves.

Downward pressure on CFF's BFSR may result from (i) a significant deterioration in its asset quality indicators; and/or (ii) prolonged pressures on its liquidity profile; and/or (iii) a marked deterioration of its franchise and profitability prospects.

CFFs long-term deposit ratings would likely be downgraded as a result of (i) a significant deterioration in Moody's assessment of the creditworthiness of Groupe BPCE; and/or (ii) a weakening of the group's solidarity mechanism or a change in CFF's affiliation status in turn leading to a re-assessment of the probability of mutual support; and/or (iii) a change in Moody's assessment of the probability of systemic support, which would be provided to Groupe BPCE and, in turn, to CFF.

The methodologies used in this rating were 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. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of these methodologies.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides relevant 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 relevant 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 relevant 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.

Moody's adopts all necessary measures so that the information it uses in assigning a rating is of sufficient quality and from sources Moody's considers to be reliable including, when appropriate, independent third-party sources. However, Moody's is not an auditor and cannot in every instance independently verify or validate information received in the rating process.

Please see Moody's Rating Symbols and Definitions on the Rating Process page on www.moodys.com for further information on the meaning of each rating category and the definition of default and recovery.

Please see ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the last rating action and the rating history. The date on which some ratings were first released goes back to a time before Moody's ratings were fully digitized and accurate data may not be available. Consequently, Moody's provides a date that it believes is the most reliable and accurate based on the information that is available to it. Please see the ratings disclosure page on our website www.moodys.com for further information.

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 disclosure page on www.moodys.com for general disclosure on potential conflicts of interests.

Please see the ratings disclosure page on www.moodys.com for information on (A) MCO's major shareholders (above 5%) and for (B) further information regarding certain affiliations that may exist between directors of MCO and rated entities as well as (C) the names of entities that hold ratings from MIS that have also publicly reported to the SEC an ownership interest in MCO of more than 5%. A member of the board of directors of this rated entity may also be a member of the board of directors of a shareholder of Moody's Corporation; however, Moody's has not independently verified this matter.

Please see Moody's Rating Symbols and Definitions on the Rating Process page on www.moodys.com for further information on the meaning of each rating category and the definition of default and recovery.

Please see ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the last rating action and the rating history.

The date on which some ratings were first released goes back to a time before Moody's ratings were fully digitized and accurate data may not be available. Consequently, Moody's provides a date that it believes is the most reliable and accurate based on the information that is available to it. Please see the ratings disclosure page on our website www.moodys.com for further information.

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.

Nicholas Hill
Senior Vice President
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's France SAS
96 Boulevard Haussmann
Paris 75008
France
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 France SAS
96 Boulevard Haussmann
Paris 75008
France
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's downgrades Credit Foncier's BFSR to D; affirms Aa3 ratings
No Related Data.
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