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Rating Action:

Moody's downgrades ratings of six Belarusian banks

04 Apr 2011

The rating actions follow a sovereign downgrade of Belarus

Moscow, April 04, 2011 -- Moody's Investors Service has today downgraded to B3 from B2 the long-term foreign currency deposit ratings of six Belarusian banks: (i) Belarusbank, (ii) Belagroprombank, (iii) Belinvestbank, (iv) Belpromstroibank, (v) Bank Moscow-Minsk and (vi) Minsk Transit Bank. Moody's also downgraded to B2 from B1 the local-currency deposit ratings of the three state-owned banks: Belarusbank, Belagroprombank, Belinvestbank, and to B1 from Ba3 the local currency deposit rating of privately owned Bank Moscow-Minsk. The local currency deposit rating of Belpromstroibank was affirmed at Ba3 and the local currency deposit rating of Minsk Transit Bank was affirmed at B2. The outlook on B3 long term foreign currency deposit ratings of all six rated banks is negative, driven by the negative outlook on foreign currency ceiling for Belarus. The outlooks on local currency deposit ratings of five banks (Belarusbank, Belagroprombank, Belinvestbank, Minsk Transit Bank and Bank Moscow-Minsk) are negative, whilst the outlook on Belpromstroibank is stable.

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

RATINGS RATIONALE

Today's downgrades were prompted by:

1. The downgrade of the country's foreign-currency deposit ceiling to B3 from B2 which affected the foreign currency deposit ratings of all rated banks.

2. The downgrade of the Belarus government's debt rating to B2 from B1 which reflects the negative impact of the country's limited capacity to support its banking system, causing the repositioning of the country's systemic support indicator (SSI) to B2 from B1, which affected the three state-owned banks' long-term local currency deposit ratings.

3. Re-assessment of parental support assumptions for Bank Moscow-Minsk.

ACTION ON FOREIGN CURRENCY DEPOSIT RATINGS DUE TO LOWERING OF COUNTRY CEILING

The downgrade of all six rated banks' long-term foreign currency deposit ratings is due to the recent downgrade of the country's foreign currency deposit ceiling to B3 from B2. As a result, all foreign currency deposit ratings remain constrained by the corresponding ceiling at B3, which reflects moratorium risks on foreign currency deposits that currently exist in Belarus within the context of declining foreign currency assets held by the National Bank of Belarus (NBB).

LOCAL CURRENCY DEPOSIT RATINGS

The downgrade of the Belarus government's debt rating has prompted Moody's to lower Belarus's systemic support indicator (SSI), which is the measure Moody's uses to determine bank rating uplift due to systemic support considerations. The SSI denotes the country's capacity to provide support to its banking system beyond that indicated by its own rating level, as it incorporates a range of tools at its disposal (financial and non-financial).

By lowering Belarus's SSI to B2 from B1, the deposit ratings of three state-owned banks (Belarusbank, Belagroprombank and Belinvestbank) were downgraded to B2 from B1.

The downgrade of the long-term local currency deposit rating of Bank Moscow-Minsk to B1 from Ba3 is driven by the re-assessment of parental support assumptions from very high to moderate. Lowering of the support assumptions was triggered by the possible change of ownership structure of the bank's parent Bank of Moscow (Baa2/Prime-2/D, negative), whereby Bank of Moscow is likely to be eventually controlled by Russia's Bank VTB (Baa1/Prime-2/D-). If this materialises, the strategic fit of Bank Moscow-Minsk to the VTB group may become more questionable because VTB already owns a bank in Belarus. Also, VTB's D- BFSR is lower than that of Bank of Moscow (D) which is currently used as an anchor for parental support.

The B2 local currency deposit ratings of Minsk Transit Bank and the Ba3 of Belpromstroibank were affirmed at their current levels. The rating of Belpromstroibank continues to incorporate (i) parental support which has been re-assessed from high to very high; and (ii) systemic support, which has been reassessed from high to low. The re-assessment of parental support for Belpromstroibank is triggered by increased strategic fit of the bank to its parent Sberbank (A3/Prime-2/D+, stable) and increased commitment to support its Belarusian subsidiary. Sberbank is a majority owner of Belpromstroibank and has announced capital and funding plans towards the bank. In addition, Sberbank has recently increased a liquidity line and it conducts regular monitoring of Belpromstroibank's liquidity position.

STANDALONE BANK FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATINGS

Moody's has affirmed the E+ BFSR of all six rated banks despite the increasing pressure from the operating environment on the Belarusian banking system.

The BCAs of five banks (Belarusbank, Belagroprombank, Belpromstroibank, Bank Moscow-Minsk and Minsk Transit Bank), were affirmed at B2. The affirmations of Belarusbank and Belagroprombank reflect the perceived high importance of these two banks to the government, given their strong policy roles. Moody's continues to believe that the government is likely to provide significant ongoing capital and liquidity support to these two banks, thus better positioning them in the event of possible deterioration in the operating environment. At the same time, the BCAs of two foreign-owned subsidiaries (Belpromstroibank and Bank Moscow-Minsk) benefit from strong ongoing parental support, while affirmation of the B2 BCA of Minsk Transit Bank is a result of the bank's strong capital base and good liquidity profile, which place it favourably to withstand potential stress in the economy without any ongoing support.

Moody's has lowered the BCA of Belinvestbank to B3 from B2 (which still maps to an E+ BFSR) because of (i) its weak capital buffer and low provisioning cushion which may not be sufficient to absorb credit losses if these were to materially increase, (ii) the possibility of reduction in ongoing capital and liquidity support by the government to the bank as the government may consider disposing of Belinvestbank in the medium term, and (iii) the higher risk profile of the loan book. All of these factors significantly expose Belinvestbank to risks of deterioration in the operating environment.

OUTLOOKS

The long-term local currency deposit ratings of four rated Belarusian banks (Belarusbank, Belagroprombank, Belinvestbank, Minsk Transit Bank) have been assigned negative outlooks to take account of considerable downside risks reflected in the potential deterioration in the operating environment which is likely to affect the Belarusian banking system. Moody's believes that the financial fundamentals of the banking system (which are currently adequate) are likely to come under pressure in the near to medium term, following the worsening of the country's operating and macroeconomic environment.

The negative outlook on Bank Moscow-Minsk's local currency deposit rating is additionally explained by the negative outlook on the parent's D BFSR.

The stable outlook assigned to Belpromstroibank's long-term local currency deposit rating takes into account the strong financial fundamentals of its parent, reflected in Sberbank's Ba1 BCA and its strong commitment to support the bank despite possible deterioration in the operating environment which counterbalances the expected pressure on its standalone financial strength.

The BFSRs of five rated banks carry a stable outlook, while the BFSR of Belinvestbank, which is perceived to be more weakly positioned to meet the challenges of worsening operating and macroeconomic environment, carries a negative outlook.

BANK RATINGS AFFECTED BY TODAY'S RATING ACTION:

Belarusbank:

- BCA and BFSR affirmed at B2 and E+, respectively

- Long-term local currency deposit rating downgraded to B2 from B1

- Long-term foreign currency deposit rating downgraded to B3 from B2

E+ BFSR carries a stable outlook, while long-term ratings carry a negative outlook.

Belagroprombank:

- BCA and BFSR affirmed at B2 and E+, respectively

- Long-term local currency deposit rating downgraded to B2 from B1

- Long-term foreign currency deposit rating downgraded to B3 from B2

E+ BFSR carries a stable outlook, while long-term ratings carry a negative outlook.

Belinvestbank:

- BCA lowered to B3 from B2, E+ BFSR is affirmed

- Long-term local currency deposit rating downgraded to B2 from B1

- Long-term foreign currency deposit rating downgraded to B3 from B2

All the above ratings carry a negative outlook

Belpromstroibank:

- BCA and BFSR affirmed at B2 and E+, respectively

- Long-term local currency deposit rating is affirmed at Ba3

- Long-term foreign currency deposit rating downgraded to B3 from B2

E+ BFSR and Ba3 long-term local currency deposit rating carry a stable outlook, while long-term foreign currency deposit rating carries a negative outlook.

Bank Moscow-Minsk:

- BCA and BFSR affirmed at B2 and E+, respectively

- Long-term local currency deposit rating downgraded to B1 from Ba3

- Long-term foreign currency deposit rating downgraded to B3 from B2

E+ BFSR carries a stable outlook while long-term ratings carry a negative outlook.

Minsk Transit bank:

- BCA and BFSR affirmed at B2 and E+, respectively

- Long-term local currency deposit rating affirmed at B2

- Long-term foreign currency deposit rating downgraded to B3 from B2

E+ BFSR carries a stable outlook while long-term ratings carry a negative outlook.

PREVIOUS RATING ACTIONS & PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGIES

The principal methodologies used in this rating were Bank Financial Strength Ratings: Global Methodology published in February 2007, Incorporation of Joint-Default Analysis into Moody's Bank Ratings: A Refined Methodology published in March 2007, and Moody's Guidelines for Rating Bank Hybrid Securities and Subordinated Debt published in November 2009.

Moody's previous rating actions on the three of the six Belarus banks were implemented on 14 July 2009 when it downgraded the long-term global local currency (GLC) deposit ratings as follows: Belarusbank -- to B1 from Ba1; Belagroprombank -- to B1 from Ba1; and Belinvestbank -- to B1 from Ba2. At that time, the rating agency also lowered the BCA of Belarusbank to B2 from B1.

Moody's previous rating action on Belpromstroibank was implemented on 14 May 2010 when it upgraded the long-term global local currency deposit rating to Ba3 from B1.

Moody's previous rating action on Bank Moscow-Minsk was implemented on 9 July 2009 when it downgraded the global scale long-term local currency rating to Ba3 from Ba2 and assigned a negative outlook.

Moody's previous rating action on Minsk Transit Bank was implemented on 27 November 2008 when it has assigned first-time B2 long-term and Not Prime short-term local and foreign currency deposit ratings and an E+ BFSR. At that time, a stable outlook was assigned on all ratings.

All banks affected by today's review are headquartered in Minsk, Belarus:

- Belarusbank reported unaudited total assets of US$15.1 billion as of end-September 2010

- Belagroprombank reported unaudited total assets of US$8.4 billion as of end-September 2010

- Belpromstroibank reported audited total assets of US$2.9 billion as of end-December 2010

- Belinvestbank reported audited total assets of US$2.5 billion as of end-December 2010

- Bank Moscow-Minsk reported unaudited total assets of US$538 million as of end-September 2010

- Minsk Transit bank reported audited total assets of US$237 million as of end-December 2010

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

Information sources used to prepare the credit rating are the following: parties involved in the ratings, parties not involved in the ratings, public information, and confidential and proprietary Moody's Investors Service information.

Moody's Investors Service considers the quality of information available on the issuer or obligation satisfactory for the purposes of maintaining a credit rating.

Moody's adopts all necessary measures so that the information it uses in assigning a credit 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 ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on Moodys.com for the last rating action and the rating history.

The date on which some Credit Ratings were first released goes back to a time before Moody's Investors Service's Credit Ratings were fully digitized and accurate data may not be available. Consequently, Moody's Investors Service 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 the Credit Policy page on Moodys.com for the methodologies used in determining ratings, further information on the meaning of each rating category and the definition of default and recovery.

Moscow
Vladlen Kuznetsov
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Eastern Europe LLC
Telephone: +7 495 228 6060
Facsimile: +7 495 228 6091

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 Eastern Europe LLC
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Telephone: +7 495 228 6060
Facsimile: +7 495 228 6091

Moody's downgrades ratings of six Belarusian banks
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