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Rating Action:

Moody's lowers local currency ratings of Mexican banks

 The document has been translated in other languages

19 Oct 2009

Rating actions prompted by global reassessment of systemic support indicators

Mexico City, October 19, 2009 -- Moody's Investors Service downgraded the global local currency deposit and senior debt ratings of BBVA Bancomer (to A1 from Aa2; subordinated debt eligible for Tier 2 and Tier 1 capital to A2 and A3, respectively); Banco Nacional de Mexico (Banamex, to A2 from Aa3); Banco Santander (Mexico) (to A2 from Aa3); Banco Mercantil del Norte (Banorte, GLC to A3 from A2; subordinated debt eligible for Tier 2 and Tier 1 capital to Baa1 and Baa2, respectively); and Scotiabank Inverlat (Scotiabank Mexico, to A2 from A1).

Moody's also lowered the local and foreign currency issuer ratings of government-related financial institutions (GRIs) Instituto para la Proteccion al Ahorro Bancario (IPAB, to A2 from Aaa); Sociedad Hipotecaria Federal (SHF, to Baa1 from Aaa); Banco Nacional de Obras y Servicios Publicos (Banobras, GLC to Baa1 from Aaa); Banco Nacional de Comercio Exterior (Bancomext, foreign currency debt to Baa1 from A1); and Nacional Financiera (Nafin, foreign currency debt to Baa1 from A1).

Moody's also lowered the local currency issuer rating of Asigna Compensacion y Liquidacion (Asigna, to A2 from A1), as the credit rating of Asigna is tied to the local currency ratings of its principal clearing members, including BBVA Bancomer, Banamex, Banco Santander (Mexico) and Scotiabank Inverlat.

All of these ratings now have a stable outlook. The rating actions conclude the reviews for possible downgrade initiated on July 31, 2009 and on August 6, and 7, 2009.

A complete list of today's ratings actions is provided at the end of this press release.

Moody's said that these rating actions were driven by its global reassessment of the ability of governments to support their countries' banks during a protracted systemic crisis. The likelihood of such support is an important part of Moody's credit analysis, and it provides uplift to the ratings above that which would be implied by the banks' own financial strength. For the Mexican issuers, the downgrades bring the ratings closer in line with that of the government's own local currency bond rating of Baa1.

The rating agency noted that this rating action is not related to the intrinsic strength or operating performance of the banks; accordingly, the bank financial strength ratings and the unsupported baseline credit assessments (BCA) of BBVA Bancomer, Banamex, Banco Santander (Mexico), Banorte, and Scotiabank Mexico were unaffected and remain with stable outlooks. Also unaffected were the BCAs of IPAB, SHF, Banobras, Bancomext, and Nafin.

In the cases of BBVA Bancomer and Banamex and Banco Santander (Mexico), Moody's explained that the local currency deposit ratings no longer benefit from any uplift due to systemic support, either (a) because their C+ financial strength ratings and A2 baseline credit assessments (BBVA Bancomer and Banamex) are now in line with the new A2 systemic support indicator for Mexico or (b) because lift from other sources of external support (i.e. parental support in the case of (Banco Santander (Mexico)) results in supported ratings already at the A2 level.

Moody's also indicated that the banks' Baa1 foreign currency deposit ratings were not affected by this action and remain constrained by Mexico's foreign currency deposit ceiling, which has a stable outlook. The Mexican National Scale ratings also remain mostly unchanged, Moody's added.

DEPOSIT-RATING CHANGE REFLECTS REVISED APPROACH TO SYSTEMIC SUPPORT

Moody's has refined its assessment of systemic support for the Mexican banks to better reflect the capacity of the government to support the banking system as a whole in the event of a systemic crisis. Moody's continues to believe that most governments are likely to support their banking systems to avoid a meltdown of the local payment system in such an event.

Nevertheless, the agency also views the capacity of a country and its central bank to support the nation's banks to be more closely aligned with the government's own creditworthiness. The revised approach to systemic support is outlined in Moody's special comment entitled "Financial Crisis More Closely Aligns Bank Credit Risk and Government Ratings in Non-Aaa Countries", published in May 2009.

Moody's said that the new systemic support indicator for Mexico has been established at A2, thus replacing the Aaa local-currency deposit ceiling as the systemic support input for bank ratings. The new A2 support indicator nevertheless reflects two notches of uplift above the government's Baa1 local currency bond rating.

The two-notch difference reflects Moody's view of the Mexican government's strong ability and willingness to support the banking system, including a broad array of financial and non-financial tools, as well as the intrinsic strength of the banking system demonstrated during the recent global crisis. This view is underpinned by the following:

1. The Mexican government gave full support to the banks during the economic and financial crisis ("Tequila") of 1994-1995.

2. Concrete actions during the current crisis, which include partially guaranteed short-term liquidity lines provided through development banks to keep the domestic commercial paper market flowing, and accounting forbearance on repurchase operations and mark to market valuations, are further indicative of the high priority the government places on the health and stability of the financial system.

3. Banking institutions are primarily core funded in local currency, which has allowed them to manage through the current financial crisis. Credit stress in the Mexican banking system has been manageable through the global recession because of banks' strong bank fundamentals going into the crisis. Although bank performance has come under pressure due to Mexico's sharp economic downturn, the major banks continue to perform profitably, with manageable asset quality, good liquidity, and solid Tier-1 capital ratios and reserve levels.

4. The relatively small size of the banking system in relation to government resources (loans represent 34% of GDP), as well as the fact that foreign liabilities of the Mexican banks comprise a low 24% of the country's foreign currency reserves, suggest that the risk of crystallization of banking losses on the government's balance sheet should be moderate.

Moody's, however, highlighted that the Mexican banking system still faces the challenges presented by the country's ongoing economic recession and difficult credit environment overall. Bank earnings have been affected by a sharp increase in loan delinquencies and hence higher provisioning requirements, as well as much reduced lending activity and lower interest rates in 2009. At the same time, the banks' sound capitalization levels have largely withstood increased delinquencies through the downturn, and these remain at comfortable levels.

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGIES AND LAST RATING ACTIONS

The principal methodologies used in rating the Mexican banks were "Bank Financial Strength Ratings: Global Methodology" and "Incorporation of Joint Default Analysis into Moody's Bank Ratings: A Refined Methodology". The principal methodology used in rating the GRIs was "The Application of Joint Default Analysis to Government Related Issuers". The principal methodology used in rating Asigna was "Assessing the Credit Quality of Exchanges and Clearing Houses". These methodologies are available on www.moodys.com in the Rating Methodologies sub-directory under the Research & Ratings tab. Other methodologies and factors that may have been considered in the process of rating these issuers can also be found in the Rating Methodologies sub-directory on Moody's website.

The last rating action on BBVA Bancomer was on October 7, 2009, when Moody's assigned first-time ratings to Casa de Bolsa BBVA Bancomer. On August 6, 2009, Moody's affirmed with stable outlook the bank's foreign currency deposit ratings.

The last rating action on Banamex was on August 6, 2009, when Moody's affirmed the bank's foreign currency deposit ratings with stable outlook.

The last rating action on Banco Santander (Mexico) was on August 6, 2009, when Moody's affirmed the bank's foreign currency deposit ratings with stable outlook.

The last rating action on Banorte was on August 6, 2009, when Moody's affirmed the bank's foreign currency deposit ratings with stable outlook.

The last rating action on Scotiabank Inverlat was on August 6, 2009, when Moody's affirmed the bank's foreign currency deposit ratings with stable outlook.

The last rating action on IPAB was on August 6, 2009, when Moody's placed on review for possible downgrade the entity's GLC issuer rating and affirmed the Mexican National Scale ratings.

The last rating action on Bancomext was on August 6, 2009, when Moody's placed on review for possible downgrade the entity's foreign currency debt ratings.

The last rating action on Nafin was on August 6, 2009, when Moody's placed on review for possible downgrade the entity's foreign currency debt ratings and affirmed the Mexican National Scale ratings.

The last rating action on Banobras was on August 6, 2009, when Moody's placed on review for possible downgrade the entity's GLC and foreign currency issuer ratings and affirmed the Mexican National Scale ratings.

The last rating action on SHF was on August 6, 2009, when Moody's placed on review for possible downgrade the entity's GLC issuer rating and affirmed the Mexican National Scale ratings.

The last rating action on Asigna was on August 7, 2009, when Moody's placed on review for possible downgrade the entity's GLC issuer rating and affirmed the Mexican National Scale ratings.

DETAILED LIST OF RATINGS AND ACTIONS TAKEN

BBVA Bancomer, S.A.

- Long- term local- currency deposits: downgraded to A1, with stable outlook, from Aa2

- Long- term local- currency senior debt: downgraded to A1, with stable outlook, from Aa2

- Long- term local- currency subordinated and junior subordinated debt: downgraded to A2, with stable outlook, from Aa3

- Short- term local- currency deposits: Prime-1, confirmed

BBVA Bancomer Cayman Branch

- Long- term foreign currency subordinated debt: downgraded to A2, stable, from A1

- Long- term foreign currency junior subordinated debt: downgraded to A3, stable, from A1

Casa de Bolsa BBVA Bancomer, S.A.

- Long- term local- currency issuer: downgraded to A1, with stable outlook, from Aa2

- Short- term local- currency issuer: Prime-1, affirmed

Hipotecaria Nacional, S.A.

- Long- term local- currency issuer: downgraded to A2, with stable outlook, from Aa3

Banco Nacional de Mexico, S.A.

- Long- term local- currency deposits: downgraded to A2, with stable outlook, from Aa3

- Long- term foreign- currency senior debt: downgraded to A2, with stable outlook, from A1

- Short- term local- currency deposits: Prime-1, confirmed

Acciones y Valores, Casa de Bolsa, S.A.

- Long- term local- currency issuer: downgraded to A2, with stable outlook, from Aa3

- Short- term local- currency issuer: Prime-1, confirmed

Banco Santander (Mexico), S.A.

- Long- term local- currency deposits: downgraded to A2, with stable outlook, from Aa3

- Long- term local- currency senior debt: downgraded to A2, with stable outlook, from Aa3

- Long- term foreign- currency senior debt: downgraded to A2, with stable outlook, from A1

- Short- term local- currency deposits and senior debt: Prime-1, confirmed

- Short- term foreign- currency senior debt: Prime-1, confirmed

Casa de Bolsa Santander, S.A.

- Long- term local- currency issuer: downgraded to A2, with stable outlook, from Aa3

- Short- term local- currency issuer: Prime-1, confirmed

Banco Mercantil del Norte, S.A.

- Long- term local- currency deposits: downgraded to A3, with stable outlook, from A2

- Long- term local- currency subordinated debt (Tier 2 eligible incl. subordinated global bonds and Euro MTN notes): downgraded to Baa1, with stable outlook, from A3

- Long- term local- currency Tier-1 eligible (junior subordinated) debt: downgraded to Baa2, with stable outlook, from Baa1

- Long- term foreign- currency subordinated debt (Tier 2 eligible incl. sub global bonds and Euro MTN notes): downgraded to Baa1, with stable outlook, from A3

- Long- term foreign- currency junior subordinated debt: downgraded to Baa2, with stable outlook, from Baa1

- Long- term Mexican National Scale junior subordinated debt: downgraded to Aa1.mx, stable, from Aaa.mx

- Short- term local- currency deposits: downgraded to Prime-2 from Prime-1

Banorte Cayman Branch

- Long- term foreign- currency subordinated debt A3: Withdraw (WR)

Arrendadora Banorte, S.A.

- Long- term local- currency issuer: downgraded to A3, with stable outlook, from A2

- Short- term local- currency issuer: downgraded to Prime-2 from Prime-1

Factor Banorte, S.A.

- Long- term local- currency issuer: downgraded to A3, with stable outlook, from A2

- Short- term local- currency issuer: downgraded to Prime-2 from Prime-1

Casa de Bolsa Banorte, S.A.

- Long- term local- currency issuer: downgraded to A3, with stable outlook, from A2

- Short- term local- currency issuer: downgraded to Prime-2 from Prime-1

Scotiabank Inverlat, S.A.

- Long- term local- currency deposits: downgraded to A2, with stable outlook, from A1

- Short- term local- currency deposits: Prime-1, confirmed

Scotia Inverlat Casa de Bolsa, S.A.

- Long- term local- currency issuer: downgraded to A2, with stable outlook, from A1

- Short- term local- currency issuer: Prime-1, confirmed

Instituto para la Proteccion al Ahorro Bancario

- Long- term local- currency issuer: downgraded to A2, with stable outlook, from Aaa

- Short- term local- currency issuer: Prime-1, confirmed

Banco Nacional de Comercio Exterior, S.N.C.

- Long- term foreign currency debt: downgraded to Baa1, with stable outlook, from A1

- Short- term foreign currency debt: downgraded to Prime-2 from Prime-1

Banco Nacional de Obras y Servicios Publicos, S.N.C.

- Long- term local- currency issuer: downgraded to Baa1, with stable outlook, from Aaa

- Long- term foreign- currency issuer: downgraded to Baa1, with stable outlook, from A1

- Short- term local- and foreign- currency issuer: downgraded to Prime-2 from Prime-1

Nacional Financiera, S.N.C.

- Short- term foreign currency debt: downgraded to Prime-2 from Prime-1

Nacional Financiera Cayman Branch

- Long- term foreign currency debt: downgraded to Baa1, with stable outlook, from A1

- Short- term foreign currency debt: downgraded to Prime-2 from Prime-1

Sociedad Hipotecaria Federal, S.N.C.

- Long- term local- currency issuer: downgraded to Baa1, with stable outlook, from Aaa

- Long- term foreign currency issuer: downgraded to Baa1, with stable outlook, from A1

- Short- term local- currency debt: downgraded to Prime-2 from Prime-1

Asigna Compensacion y Liquidacion

- Long- term local- currency issuer: downgraded to A2, with stable outlook, from A1

Mexico City
David Olivares Villagomez
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's de Mexico S.A. de C.V
Telephone:+52-55-1253-5700

New York
Jeanne Del Casino
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Moody's lowers local currency ratings of Mexican banks
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