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Rating Action:

Moody's downgrades Debeka Bausparkasse's deposit ratings to Baa2; outlook negative

30 Nov 2016

Frankfurt am Main, November 30, 2016 -- Moody's Investors Service has today downgraded Debeka Bausparkasse AG's (Debeka) long-term deposit ratings to Baa2 from Baa1 and maintained a negative outlook on the ratings. The rating agency has also downgraded Debeka's Baseline Credit Assessment (BCA) and adjusted BCA to baa2 from baa1 and its long-term Counterparty Risk (CR) Assessment to A2(cr) from A1(cr). At the same time, the building and loan association's short-term deposit ratings and short-term CR Assessment were affirmed at Prime-2 (P-2) and P-1(cr), respectively.

Today's rating action reflects: (1) Moody's assessment of the negative implications of the protracted low interest rate environment on Debeka's earnings and related pressures on its narrow business model; and (2) Debeka's otherwise sound financial fundamentals such as asset quality and liquidity.

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

RATINGS RATIONALE

---RATIONALE FOR THE DOWNGRADE OF DEBEKA'S BASELINE CREDIT ASSESSMENT

The downgrade of Debeka's BCA to baa2 from baa1 reflects the gradual deterioration in the bank's credit fundamentals, which the extended low interest rate environment has triggered for the building and loan association (Bausparkasse). Moody's believes the remediation measures taken by Debeka such as the termination of costly legacy client contracts in part expose it to legal risks. Whereas the German Federal Court of Justice already ruled against the sector's use of a specific loan fee, the Court's rulings on the validity of client contract cancelations by Germany's building societies remains pending. In Moody's view, the pressure on Debeka's net interest margin and the legal downside risks to its fee income have increased the pressure on its future profits and capital. The absence of funding and liquidity pressures, a very low risk loan book and an additional loss absorption layer in the form of the Technical Security Reserve as well as Debeka's affiliation with the broader German insurance group Debeka-Gruppe (unrated) are important strengths of Debeka's standalone credit profile that help mitigate the profitability challenge that Debeka will be exposed to in the short- and medium-term.

Moody's expects that Debeka's net interest income will remain pressured by the fixed interest rate payment promises given to its Bauspar depositors, which account for more than half of the bank's total assets and liabilities. Despite Debeka's efforts to balance assets and liabilities, these rigid payment obligations have proven to re-price more slowly than Debeka's assets, which consist foremost of mortgage loans and a securities portfolio.

Following the amendment of the sector-specific legislation in late 2015, Moody's understands Debeka intends to make use of the greater flexibility of the law afforded for both its assets and liabilities. The rating agency believes that this would: (1) enable Debeka to absorb operating losses through its €78 million Technical Security Reserve which is not accounted for as a capital component; (2) result in moderately higher risk taking; and (3) prospectively enable Debeka to broaden its refinancing mix beyond the current focus on costly Bauspar deposits.

---RATIONALE FOR THE DOWNGRADE OF DEBEKA'S DEPOSIT RATINGS AND CR ASSESSMENT

Debeka's Baa2 deposit ratings reflect: (1) The bank's baa2 BCA and adjusted BCA; (2) the result of Moody's Advanced Loss-Given-Failure (LGF) analysis, which takes into account the severity of loss faced by the different liability classes in resolution and provides no rating uplift to Debeka's deposit ratings; and (3) a low probability of Debeka receiving government support, resulting in no rating uplift.

Debeka is subject to the EU Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive, which the agency considers to be an Operational Resolution Regime. Moody's therefore applies its Advanced LGF analysis, considering the risks faced by the different debt and deposit classes across the liability structure at failure.

CR Assessments are opinions of how counterparty obligations are likely to be treated if a bank fails, and are distinct from debt and deposit ratings in that they: (1) Consider only the risk of default rather than both the likelihood of default and the expected financial loss suffered in the event of default; and (2) apply to counterparty obligations and contractual commitments rather than debt or deposit instruments. Our CR Assessment captures the probability of default on certain senior obligations, rather than expected loss. Therefore, we focus purely on subordination and take no account of the volume of the instrument class. Debeka's A2(cr)/P-1(cr) benefit from three notches of uplift above the baa2 adjusted BCA, reflecting the adequate amount of subordination provided in particular by Debeka's outstanding senior unsecured debt and junior deposits.

---RATIONALE FOR THE NEGATIVE OUTLOOK

The negative outlook reflects Moody's assessment that the prolonged low interest rate environment has given rise to unprecedented structural challenges for building and loan associations in Germany (Aaa stable) that weigh on the profit and franchise outlook for Debeka. Its monoline business model provides Debeka with fewer opportunities to offset these negative pressures compared to other, more diversified retail banks. Hence, the Baa2 ratings of Debeka could be lowered if the bank's current baa2 BCA was downgraded during the ratings outlook period.

WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

The negative outlook on Debeka's ratings indicates that there is currently no upward pressure on the ratings.

A lower BCA would exert downward pressure on Debeka's long-term ratings. Debeka's long-term ratings may also be downgraded upon a change in its liability structure, particularly if the amount of senior debt outstanding declines from current levels. This could result in higher than the currently expected moderate loss-given-failure for Debeka's depositors.

A downgrade of Debeka's BCA could result from: (1) increasing margin pressure from the low interest-rate environment; (2) more aggressive risk-taking following the greater flexibility afforded in this respect by last year's amendment of the sector's specific law that would negatively affect the bank's asset-quality; and/or (3) failure to offset declining net interest income with fee income or expense management.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

The following ratings were downgraded:

....Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Downgraded to baa2 from baa1

....Baseline Credit Assessment, Downgraded to baa2 from baa1

....LT Counterparty Risk Assessment, Downgraded to A2(cr) from A1(cr)

....LT Bank Deposits (Local & Foreign Currency), Downgraded to Baa2 from Baa1, Outlook Remains Negative

The following ratings were affirmed:

....ST Counterparty Risk Assessment, affirmed at P-1(cr)

....ST Bank Deposits (Local & Foreign Currency), affirmed at P-2

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in these ratings was "Banks" published in January 2016. Please see the Rating Methodologies 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 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 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 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.

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.

Bernhard Held
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

No Related Data.
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CREDIT RATINGS ISSUED BY MOODY'S INVESTORS SERVICE, INC. AND/OR ITS CREDIT RATINGS AFFILIATES ARE MOODY'S CURRENT OPINIONS OF THE RELATIVE FUTURE CREDIT RISK OF ENTITIES, CREDIT COMMITMENTS, OR DEBT OR DEBT-LIKE SECURITIES, AND MATERIALS, PRODUCTS, SERVICES AND INFORMATION PUBLISHED BY MOODY'S (COLLECTIVELY, "PUBLICATIONS") MAY INCLUDE SUCH  CURRENT OPINIONS. MOODY'S INVESTORS SERVICE DEFINES CREDIT RISK AS THE RISK THAT AN ENTITY MAY NOT MEET ITS CONTRACTUAL FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS AS THEY COME DUE AND ANY ESTIMATED FINANCIAL LOSS IN THE EVENT OF DEFAULT OR IMPAIRMENT. SEE MOODY'S RATING SYMBOLS AND DEFINITIONS PUBLICATION FOR INFORMATION ON THE TYPES OF CONTRACTUAL FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS ADDRESSED BY MOODY'S INVESTORS SERVICE CREDIT RATINGS. CREDIT RATINGS DO NOT ADDRESS ANY OTHER RISK, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO: LIQUIDITY RISK, MARKET VALUE RISK, OR PRICE VOLATILITY. CREDIT RATINGS, NON-CREDIT ASSESSMENTS ("ASSESSMENTS"), AND  OTHER OPINIONS INCLUDED IN MOODY'S PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT STATEMENTS OF CURRENT OR HISTORICAL FACT. MOODY'S PUBLICATIONS MAY ALSO INCLUDE QUANTITATIVE MODEL-BASED ESTIMATES OF CREDIT RISK AND RELATED OPINIONS OR COMMENTARY PUBLISHED BY MOODY'S ANALYTICS, INC. AND/OR ITS AFFILIATES. MOODY'S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS AND PUBLICATIONS DO NOT CONSTITUTE OR PROVIDE INVESTMENT OR FINANCIAL ADVICE, AND MOODY'S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS AND  PUBLICATIONS ARE NOT AND DO NOT PROVIDE RECOMMENDATIONS TO PURCHASE, SELL, OR HOLD PARTICULAR SECURITIES. MOODY'S CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS, OTHER OPINIONS AND  PUBLICATIONS DO NOT COMMENT ON THE SUITABILITY OF AN INVESTMENT FOR ANY PARTICULAR INVESTOR. MOODY'S ISSUES ITS CREDIT RATINGS, ASSESSMENTS AND OTHER OPINIONS AND PUBLISHES  ITS PUBLICATIONS WITH THE EXPECTATION AND UNDERSTANDING THAT EACH INVESTOR WILL, WITH DUE CARE, MAKE ITS OWN STUDY AND EVALUATION OF EACH SECURITY THAT IS UNDER CONSIDERATION FOR PURCHASE, HOLDING, OR SALE.

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