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Rating Action:

Moody's downgrades HSH Nordbank's standalone BFSR to E/caa2

18 Jan 2013

Long and short-term ratings remain on review for downgrade

Frankfurt am Main, January 18, 2013 -- Moody's Investors Service has today downgraded HSH Nordbank AG's standalone bank financial strength rating (BFSR) to E, equivalent to a standalone credit assessment of caa2, from E+/b3. Concurrently, Moody's has extended the review for downgrade on HSH's long and short-term debt and deposit ratings of Baa2 and Prime-2, respectively.

The lowering of the standalone BFSR reflects the significant challenges faced by HSH in its efforts to stabilise its franchise and comply with compensation measures for earlier state aid. Asset-quality deterioration and the resulting pressure on capital have triggered renewed requirements for capital strengthening which Moody's expects to include additional support from the bank's owners. This support would imply an additional financial burden for the fragile group. The E/caa2 standalone credit strength better reflects Moody's view that HSH has reached a critical stage.

The rating agency extended the review on HSH's debt and deposit ratings because the size and exact terms of the capital strengthening measures are yet to be determined. Moody's expects renewed support measures to be forthcoming in the near term. The size and exact terms of this support as well as further requirements that could be imposed by the European Commission (EC) will be critical considerations for the positioning of these ratings. Given the continued commitment and direct risk exposure of HSH's majority owners, the German federal states of Hamburg and Schleswig Holstein (both unrated), Moody's currently expects to lower the bank's long-term debt ratings by no more than one notch.

In addition, Moody's lowered HSH's subordinated debt rating to Caa1 from Ba3. The ratings of its trust-preferred securities and silent participations were downgraded to Ca(hyb) from Caa1(hyb), reflecting expectations of an extended period of coupon omission. These instruments continue to be rated on an expected loss basis.The ratings of the bank's subordinated debt and hybrid instruments carry a stable outlook.

The ratings of bonds and other liabilities covered by the former grandfathering rules remain unaffected by today's rating action.

RATINGS RATIONALE

--- STANDALONE CREDIT ASSESSMENT

The downgrade of HSH's standalone BFSR reflects (1) Moody's view that renewed capital support will be needed and forthcoming to help the bank stabilise and rebuild its core franchises while at the same time executing its deleveraging plan; (2) the ongoing crisis in the shipping market and uncertainty in the commercial real-estate market, which continues to weigh heavily on the bank's already poor asset quality; and (3) the expected additional fees for and financial burden from additional capital support.

The recent erosion of its Core Tier 1 ratio to 9.4% as per unaudited Q3 2012 results, which is below the 10% recommended by the EC, and HSH's need to rely on its stakeholders for renewed support implies (1) a heightened risk to the group's viability; and (2) that it will take more time than previously expected for HSH to stabilise its credit profile. The downgrade of the standalone BFSR also captures the costs of additional capital support. If capital support triggers an EC investigation into state aid, Moody's would have to assess the implications for the bank's business prospects.

Other key vulnerabilities relate to a further deterioration in the shipping sector and, to some extent, in commercial real estate. Given the size of the bank's exposures in these two sectors and credit risk concentrations within these portfolios, Moody's considers that the bank remains susceptible to market shocks or macroeconomic stress and vulnerable to further asset-quality deterioration in a severe downside scenario.

In addition, the E/caa2 standalone credit strength better reflects the challenges for the bank's funding strategy. The bank's asset-based lending model requires funding with relatively long durations and partly in US dollars in order to match the asset profile, whereby the use of shipping assets as collateral currently remains challenging.

--- DEBT AND DEPOSIT RATINGS

The extended review for downgrade of HSH's Baa2/Prime-2 long and short-term debt and deposit ratings will focus on the size and terms of the expected capital measures.

Whilst Moody's expects that Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein will continue to support the bank, the agency will consider the potential obstacles to this support. The support will imply additional costs for HSH (if extended in the form of a guarantee) and may prompt the EC to review the terms and conditions of this support, which may result in additional conditionality. A downgrade may be triggered if the capital measures are not sufficient to stabilise the bank's credit profile, and/or if further constraints imposed by the EC impair the future viability of the bank.

The support probability that Moody's factors into HSH's fully supported ratings will continue to take into account HSH's high systemic relevance, as well as (1) the majority stakes held by its public-sector owners; (2) the past support measures that continue to be available to HSH; and (3) the legacy liability of the federal states for substantial amounts of grandfathered debt. Moody's therefore expects that HSH will maintain an investment-grade rating.

--- SUBORDINATED DEBT AND HYBRID RATINGS

The downgrade of HSH's subordinated debt ratings to Caa1 from Ba3 follows the lowering of its standalone credit strength. The ratings are notched off the bank's adjusted standalone credit assessment of b3, which benefits from two notches of cooperative support from Germany's mutually supportive public-sector banks.

The downgrade to Ca (hyb) from Caa1 (hyb) of HSH's non-cumulative Tier-1 hybrid instruments ("undated silent partnership certificates" [USPCs]) reflects (1) that HSH must abstain from using reserves potentially available under local GAAP to service its hybrid instruments; and (2) the expectation that HSH will not generate (sufficient) profits under local GAAP during the next three to four years to pay coupons on these instruments. The USPCs were issued by the following entities

- HSH N Funding I;

- HSH N Funding II;

- RESPARCS Funding Limited Partnership I; and

- RESPARCS Funding II Limited Partnership

WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

An upgrade of HSH's E BFSR would require a demonstrated, sustainable stabilisation of HSH's capitalisation and franchise, and a fundamental recovery of its profitability.

Given the very high support assumptions factored into HSH's debt and deposit ratings, a gradual improvement of the standalone BFSR would not lead to an upgrade of those ratings.

Downwards pressure on HSH's caa2 standalone credit strength could develop (1) in the unlikely event that the bank fails to put in place sufficient capital measures to stabilise its credit profile, which may then result in an administered run-down of the bank's asset base; (2) upon renewed capital erosion after the currently expected support measures; (3) due to a further weakening of the bank's fragile franchise; and/or (4) upon signs of a weakening funding structure or weakening access to debt capital markets.

Pressure on HSH's debt and deposit ratings could develop if (1) the anticipated measures were not sufficient to stabilise the bank's credit profile; and/or (2) further constraints imposed by the EC impair HSH's future viability; and/or (3) a change in ownership occurs, in particular if it resulted in HSH losing its membership in the public-sector's cross-sector support mechanism.

The principal methodology used in this rating was Moody's Consolidated Global Bank Rating Methodology published in June 2012. 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.

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.

Mathias Kuelpmann
Senior Vice President
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 HSH Nordbank's standalone BFSR to E/caa2
No Related Data.
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