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Rating Action:

Moody's downgrades four Tunisian banks and confirms one bank; negative outlook

02 Aug 2011

Limassol, August 02, 2011 -- Moody's Investors Service has today downgraded the ratings of four Tunisian banks due to a weaker economic environment and expectations of deteriorating asset quality. The following banks have been downgraded:

(i) Amen Bank: downgraded to Ba2/E+ from Ba1/D-; NP short-term rating affirmed

(ii) Banque de Tunisie: downgraded to Ba1/NP/D from Baa3/P-3/D+;

(iii) Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie: downgraded to Ba1/NP/D- from Baa3/P-3/D;

(iv) Société Tunisienne de Banque: long-term rating downgraded to Ba2 from Ba1; NP short-term rating and E+ bank financial strength rating (BFSR) affirmed, but mapping to B3 on the long-term rating scale, from B2.

At the same time, the standalone and supported ratings of Arab Tunisian Bank were confirmed.

The outlook of all ratings is negative. Today's rating actions conclude the review for downgrade that Moody's initiated on 21 January 2011. A full list of affected ratings and associated outlooks is included at the end of this press release.

RATINGS RATIONALE

-RATIONALE FOR DOWNGRADE OF FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATINGS

Today's downgrade of the standalone ratings of three Tunisian banks and the re-mapping of one other on the long-term scale is based on expectations of a weakening in their financial condition, driven by the economic disruption in Tunisia in the first half of 2011 and the weak outlook for the rest of the year. In particular, Moody's is concerned about the likely deterioration in Tunisian banks' asset quality and the impact that this might have on their profitability and capital positions.

Moody's said that corporate and retail credit quality in Tunisia is likely to be negatively affected by the severe disruption to business activity in the days and weeks before and after the Jasmine Revolution in January 2011 and by the ongoing political uncertainty pending constitutional elections in October. Sectors which have been particularly affected include tourism, as reflected in a 50% decline in tourist earnings in the first half of 2011 relative to the previous year, and also the retail credit and real estate sectors, jointly accounting for about a third to one half of the banks' loan exposure. The military conflict in neighbouring Libya is also having a direct and indirect impact on the Tunisian economy, hurting cross-border trade and employment.

Moody's added that the one-notch downgrades have resulted in standalone ratings ranging from B3 to Ba2 on the long-term scale and reflect the position of the banks' capitalisation and ability to absorb further loan losses. Banks at the lower end of the range have weaker capital, lower provisioning coverage and a poor asset quality track record.

-RATIONALE FOR CONFIRMATION OF ARAB TUNISIAN BANK

Although Arab Tunisian Bank is exposed to the same risks as the other Tunisian banks, its Ba2 standalone rating level has already captured these risks. Compared with its domestic, peers the bank exhibits a smaller loan book relative to its capital base and maintains a stronger liquidity profile.

-HIGH LIKELIHOOD OF SUPPORT CONTINUES TO SUPPORT DEPOSIT RATINGS

Moody's said that the downgrades of the banks' supported ratings have been driven by the downgrade of their standalone ratings and continue to incorporate one-to-four notches of systemic support uplift. Moody's assumptions about the high likelihood of support from the government in case of need are based on the importance of the banks to the domestic payments system. Arab Tunisian Bank's deposit rating also incorporates uplift based on the likelihood of support from its controlling shareholder, Arab Bank (Baa1/P-2/C-).

-RATIONALE FOR NEGATIVE OUTLOOKS

The negative outlooks on the ratings reflect the considerable downside risks to the economy and the banking sector in the event that planned elections do not proceed smoothly.

-RATING ACTIONS IN DETAIL

AMEN BANK

(i) Long-term local and foreign-currency deposit ratings downgraded to Ba2 from Ba1

(ii) Standalone bank financial strength rating (BFSR) downgraded to E+ (mapping to B1 on the long-term scale) from D- (mapping to Ba3)

(iii) Outlook on Ba2 long-term deposit rating changed to negative

(iv) NP short-term rating affirmed

BANQUE DE TUNISIE

(i) Local and foreign-currency deposit ratings downgraded to Ba1/NP from Baa3/P-3

(ii) Standalone BFSR downgraded to D (mapping to Ba2 on the long-term scale) from D+ (mapping to Ba1)

(iii) Outlook on the long-term deposit rating and BFSR changed to negative

BANQUE INTERNATIONALE ARABE DE TUNISIE

(i) Local and foreign-currency deposit ratings downgraded to Ba1/NP from Baa3/P-3

(ii) Standalone BFSR downgraded to D- (mapping to Ba3 on the long-term scale) from D (mapping to Ba2)

(iii) Outlook on the long-term deposit rating and BFSR changed to negative

SOCIETE TUNISIENNE DE BANQUE

(i) Long-term local and foreign-currency deposit ratings downgraded to Ba2 from Ba1

(ii) Standalone BFSR of E+ affirmed, but mapping to a lower long-term rating of B3, from B2

(iii) Outlook on the long-term deposit rating and BFSR changed to negative

(iv) NP short-term rating affirmed

ARAB TUNISIAN BANK

(i) Local and foreign-currency deposit ratings of Baa3/Prime-3 confirmed

(ii) Standalone BFSR of D, mapping onto Ba2 on the long-term scale, confirmed

(iii) Outlook on deposit ratings and BFSR changed to negative

METHODOLOGIES USED

The principal 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.

Amen Bank, headquartered in Tunis, had assets of TND4.81 billion (USD3.53 billion) as of 31 December 2010.

Banque de Tunisie, headquartered in Tunis, had assets of TND3.14 billion (USD2.31 billion) as of 31 December 2010.

Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie, headquartered in Tunis, had assets of TND6.52 billion (USD4.79 billion) as of 31 December 2010.

Société Tunisienne de Banque, headquartered in Tunis, had assets of TND6.75 billion (USD4.96 billion) as of 31 December 2010.

Arab Tunisian Bank, headquartered in Tunis, had assets of TND4.02 billion (USD2.95 billion) as of 31 December 2010.

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.

The ratings for Amen bank, Banque de Tunisie and Arab Tunisian Bank were initiated by Moody's and were not requested by the rated entities.

Amen bank, Banque de Tunisie and Arab Tunisian Bank or their agent(s) participated in the rating process. The rated entities or their agent(s) provided Moody's access to the books, records and other relevant internal documents of the rated entities.

The rating has been disclosed to the rated entity or its designated agent(s) and issued with no amendment resulting from that disclosure.

Information sources used to prepare the rating are the following: parties involved in the ratings, public information, and confidential and proprietary Moody's Investors Service information.

Moody's considers the quality of information available on the rated entity, obligation or credit satisfactory for the purposes of issuing a rating.

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.

Moody's Investors Service may have provided Ancillary or Other Permissible Service(s) to the rated entity or its related third parties within the three years preceding the credit rating action. Please see the ratings disclosure page on our website www.moodys.com for further information.

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.

Limassol
George Chrysaphinis
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Cyprus Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

London
Yves Lemay
MD - Banking
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's Investors Service Cyprus Ltd.
Kanika Business Centre
319 28th October Avenue
PO Box 53205
Limassol CY 3301
Cyprus
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's downgrades four Tunisian banks and confirms one bank; negative outlook
No Related Data.
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