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Rating Action:

Moody's downgrades Raiffeisen Bank International to Baa2, on review for further downgrade

18 Feb 2015

Standalone BFSR/BCA lowered to D- negative/ba3

Frankfurt am Main, February 18, 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service has today downgraded Raiffeisen Bank International AG's (RBI) long-term debt and deposit ratings to Baa2 from Baa1. At the same time, RBI's standalone bank financial strength rating (BFSR) was lowered to D- from D, corresponding to a baseline credit assessment (BCA) of ba3 from ba2. The outlook on the BFSR is negative.

RBI's disclosure on 9 February 2015 of their preliminary 2014 results and strategic review has triggered today's rating actions. The announcement highlights the bank's ongoing capital pressures that have prompted RBI to downsize and/or dispose important and sizeable parts of its operations. In Moody's opinion, the strategic realignment carries execution risks in the current volatile market environment and will only benefit RBI's capitalisation over time. As a result, the group remains vulnerable to downside risk and volatility in key markets in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Moody's also downgraded RBI's subordinated debt ratings to Ba2 from Ba1. RBI's long-term senior ratings, its subordinated debt ratings as well as its short-term Prime-2 debt and deposit ratings remain on review for further downgrade.

Further, Moody's downgraded to Baa3 from Baa2 the long-term deposit and issuer ratings of Raiffeisen Zentralbank Oesterreich AG (RZB), RBI's parent company, as well as certain backed ratings that benefit from an unconditional and irrevocable guarantee from RBI. The rating agency also downgraded RZB's short-term deposit ratings to Prime-3 from Prime-2. All these ratings remain on review for downgrade.

A full list of the affected ratings is included at the end of this press release.

RATINGS RATIONALE

--- DOWNGRADE OF RBI's BFSR WITH A NEGATIVE OUTLOOK

Moody's decision to lower RBI's standalone BFSR/BCA with a negative outlook reflects ongoing pressure on RBI's modest capitalisation relative to its business risks. Persistent tailwinds from its operations in the CIS in particular have led the bank to announce a set of significant medium-term restructuring measures.

RBI reported a preliminary consolidated net loss of EUR493 million for 2014 including goodwill impairments. A series of management actions during Q4 that reduced risk-weighted assets partly offset the effects of the significant dislocation of the Russian rouble before year-end. As a result, RBI's transitional Basel III common equity Tier 1 (CET1) ratio remained largely unchanged at 10.9% as of end-2014 compared to 11.0% at end-September 2014.

However, Moody's expects that RBI will continue to face significant capital and profit pressures in the years to come, given ongoing challenges in key markets, including Russia (Baa3, on review for downgrade) and Ukraine (Caa3 negative). The strengthening of the Swiss franc since beginning of 2015 is likely to also slightly exacerbate capital pressures. The announced strategic review program aims to free-up capital and strengthen capital buffers, thereby focusing on a further significant reduction in risk-weighted assets, including the disposal of RBI's Polish subsidiary.

While all of these measures are focused on fostering capital buffers, Moody's says that the announced measures bear execution risk with their medium-term horizon until 2017, and are associated with restructuring costs that overall weaken RBI's earnings capacity. Additionally, the rouble devaluation will also result in significantly lower euro-denominated earnings from the bank's Russian banking activities, a key contributor to RBI's profits.

RBI's ongoing vulnerability to tail risks, given the bank's significant exposure to the more volatile operating environments in CEE and the CIS -- as well as the possibility of lower earnings and capital generation over the medium term -- mean that the outlook on the BFSR is negative.

--- DOWNGRADE OF RBI's AND RZB's LONG-TERM RATINGS

The one-notch downgrade of RBI's long-term debt and deposit ratings to Baa2 follows the downgrade of its BFSR to D-. These long-term ratings continue to benefit from four notches of uplift from the bank's ba3 standalone BCA, consisting of two notches of uplift from support from Raiffeisen Bankengruppe Austria (RBG; unrated) and two notches of government support from Austria (Aaa stable).

The one-notch downgrade of RBI's subordinated debt ratings to Ba2 from Ba1 also follows the BFSR downgrade but continues to benefit from sector-support uplift as reflected in an adjusted BCA for RBI of ba1.

The one-notch downgrade of RZB's long-term deposit and issuer ratings to Baa3 from Baa2 follows the downgrade of RBI's long-term ratings. RZB's long-term ratings reflect RBI's ratings and incorporate the structural subordination of the senior obligations of the parent company RZB to those of its major operating entity, RBI.

--- LONG-TERM AND SHORT-TERM RATINGS REMAIN ON REVIEW FOR DOWNGRADE

Moody's believes that the rising risks at the level of RBI -- which accounts for almost 50% of the sector's assets -- pose increasing challenges to the Austrian Raiffeisen sector's financial strength and cohesion. Thus, all the long and short-term ratings of RBI and RZB and its funding vehicles remain on review for downgrade.

--- FOCUS OF THE REVIEW

During the review period, Moody's will re-assess RBG's ability and willingness to provide capital support to all of its group members, including RBI, in an adverse scenario. Moody's considers the group's capitalisation as moderate relative to RBG's overall credit profile, which is focused on, and therefore strongly correlated with its higher-risk CEE operations housed at RBI. To protect RBG against likely losses under an adverse scenario, comfortable capital resources above minimum requirements would be required, in Moody's opinion.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING - UP / DOWN

There is currently no upward rating pressures as expressed in the review for downgrade of all of RBI's and RZB's long-term ratings.

A downgrade of RBI's long-term ratings could result from (1) a weakening of RBI's intrinsic financial strength; (2) the lack of a credible credit strengthening plan for the Austrian Raiffeisen sector and the potential impact on RBI; and/or (3) a further decline in the prospects for systemic support in Austria and in the EU, in light of developments associated with resolution mechanisms and burden-sharing for European banks.

Downward pressure on RBI's BFSR could develop if Moody's were to assess (1) a reduced financial strength of that entity, for example as a result of further deterioration in its Russian and Ukrainian activities; (2) substantial additional credit charges that exceed those Moody's currently expects; (3) an extended period of declining earnings and internal capital generation; and/or (4) a decline in capitalisation and regulatory capital.

A downgrade of RZB's long-term ratings could result from a downgrade of RBI's long-term ratings. In addition, wider notching between the ratings of RZB and RBI could result from (1) any double leverage at the holding company; and/or (2) a multi-notch downgrade or series of downgrades of RBI's ratings.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

The following ratings of RBI were downgraded:

- standalone BFSR to D- from D, equivalent to a BCA of ba3 from ba2, with negative outlook

- long-term debt and deposits ratings to Baa2 from Baa1, on review for downgrade

- subordinated debt ratings to Ba2 from Ba1, on review for downgrade

RBI's Prime-2 short-term debt and deposit ratings remain on review for downgrade.

The following ratings of RZB were downgraded and remain on review for further downgrade:

- long-term deposit and issuer ratings to Baa3 from Baa2

- backed senior unsecured debt ratings to Baa2 from Baa1

- backed subordinated debt ratings to Ba2 from Ba1

- backed preferred security notes to B1(hyb) from Ba3(hyb), issued by two funding trusts, RZB Finance (Jersey) III Limited and RZB Finance (Jersey) IV Limited

- short-term deposit ratings to Prime-3 from Prime-2

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Global Banks published in July 2014. 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.

Swen Metzler
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 Raiffeisen Bank International to Baa2, on review for further downgrade
No Related Data.
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