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Announcement:

Moody's maintains a stable outlook on Belgium's banking system

14 Dec 2016

Paris, December 14, 2016 -- Moody's Investors Service has maintained its stable outlook on Belgium's banking system, reflecting Belgian banks' solid asset quality, stable profitability and strong liquidity. The outlook expresses Moody's expectation of how bank creditworthiness will evolve in Belgium over the next 12-18 months.

Moody's report, entitled "Banking System Outlook: Belgium" is available on www.moodys.com. Moody's subscribers can access this report via the link provided at the end of this press release.

"Our stable outlook reflects the country's modest but steady economic growth and the banks' strengthened loan quality and capital, while negative pressure on revenues against a backdrop of low interest rates will be contained" says Guillaume Lucien-Baugas, a senior analyst at Moody's.

Belgian banks operate in a low-growth economy. Moody's expects real GDP growth to decelerate slightly to 1.3% in 2016 and 1.2% in 2017, as the prospect of the United Kingdom's exit from the European Union weighs on the Belgium economy, due to the significant trading links between the countries. In addition, consumer and business confidence still remains fragile in the aftermath of the European debt crisis in 2011-2012. Nonetheless, Belgian households' high savings are a positive factor and Moody's expects consumer spending to pick up modestly.

Belgian banks have largely completed their post-crisis restructuring efforts. They have retrenched to their home and core markets, repaid state aid, disposed of non-core assets and deleveraged their balance sheets. Moody's therefore expects loan-loss charges to remain low in the coming months, probably around the 17 basis points of average gross loans recorded during the first six months of 2016. Moody's believes that banks are adequately capitalised in view of the significant improvement in loan quality.

Banks have restored net profitability and Moody's expects profits to remain broadly stable as elements of volatility (e.g. legacy portfolios, one-offs) have subsided and despite the low interest rate environment. Belgian banks have almost exhausted the potential for further decreases in interest rates paid on deposits, which have already been reduced to close to the legal minimum, while interest income from their loan books continues to decrease. However, the lower cost of wholesale funding and minimal loan losses, together with continued efforts on costs, should keep profit erosion in check.

In addition, Belgian banks have traditionally attracted more customer deposits than they need for their lending activities. Large pools of deposits give them an advantage over banks in other European banking systems, which often have to turn to confidence-sensitive capital market funding to fill gaps in available funds to lend to customers.

Finally, the rating agency assumes a moderate likelihood of government support in case of need for the senior debt and deposits of the majority of rated banks, given their systemic importance in Belgium.

Subscribers can access the report at:

http://www.moodys.com/researchdocumentcontentpage.aspx?docid=PBC_1045224

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For more information, please call one of our global press information hotlines: London +44-20-7772-5456, New York +1-212-553-0376, Tokyo +813-5408-4110, Hong Kong +852-3758-1350, Sydney +61-2-9270-8141, Mexico City 001-888-779-5833, São Paulo 0800-891-2518, or Buenos Aires 0800-666-3506. You can also email us at mediarelations@moodys.com or visit our web site at www.moodys.com.

This publication does not announce a credit rating action. For any credit ratings referenced in this publication, please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for the most updated credit rating action information and rating history.

Guillaume Lucien-Baugas
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's France SAS
96 Boulevard Haussmann
Paris 75008
France
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Nicholas Hill
MD - Banking
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's France SAS
96 Boulevard Haussmann
Paris 75008
France
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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