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Announcement:

Moody's maintains stable outlook on Korean banking system

06 May 2010

Hong Kong, May 06, 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service says in a new report that its outlook on the Korean banking system is stable, in light of the improvement in the country's economic prospects.

The outlook expresses Moody's expectations for the fundamental credit conditions in the Korean banking system over the next 12 to 18 months.

"We think the fundamental credit conditions for Korea's banking system will recover gradually over the next several quarters," writes Youngil Choi, a Moody's VP-Senior Analyst and author of the report, "unless the global economy deteriorates significantly from the expectations in our central scenario for a hook-shaped recovery."

"The pressure on the system's asset quality and earnings will dissipate somewhat -- despite the lingering credit risk in some of the SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) or industries such as construction, shipping, shipbuilding, and property project financing."

"Plus, slower loan growth and recovering earnings will help the system manage its capital adequacy," Choi adds.

Other key drivers affecting the system's credit profile are M&A and regulatory changes.

In Moody's view, the landscape for the domestic banking system could change significantly depending on the how the sale of three entities -- Korea Exchange Bank, KDB Financial Group, and Woori Financial Group -- plays out.

While the potential consolidation of the banking system may have some mild credit positive implications, we cannot rule out some negative action due to three risk factors: (1) potential deterioration in the capitalization of acquirers if they resort to heavy debt financing; (2) aggressive strategies of banks whose relative market position is eroded by competitors' M&A; and (3) the degree of the government's involvement, which could affect the commercial decisions of the acquirers.

At the same time, domestic and global regulatory moves -- particularly in the areas of capital adequacy and liquidity management -- could lead to structural changes that dampen the domestic banks' risk appetite for some time.

"But whether strengthened frameworks will improve the system's risk positioning in practice remains to be seen, because the regulations may not capture all of the evolving risk, and the banks have tended to passively depend on the regulations to manage their risks," Choi goes on to say.

Moreover, although the system's foreign currency liquidity has improved noticeably, it is still vulnerable to any shock that could hinder the banks' access to the international capital markets -- even for as little as two or three months.

"So we think the government will consider implementing additional measures to lessen the system's foreign currency vulnerability," Choi adds.

Moody's latest Korea Banking System Outlook can be accessed at www.moodys.com.

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For more information please contact New York Press Information +1-212-553-0376; EMEA Press Information in London +44-20-7772-5456; Juan Pablo Soriano in Madrid +34-91-310-1454; Alex Cataldo in Milan +39-02-914-81-100; Eric de Bodard in Paris +33-1-5330-1020; Detlef Scholz in Frankfurt +49-69-707-30-700; Mardig Haladjian in Limassol +357-25-586-586; Alex Sazhin in Moscow +7-495-228-60-60; Petr Vins in Prague +4202 2422 2929; Tokyo Press Information +813-5408-4110; Hilary Parkes in Toronto +1-416-214-1635; Hong Kong Press Information +852-2916-1150; Hector Lim in Sydney +612 9270 8102; Luiz Tess in São Paulo +5511-3043-7300; Alberto Jones Tamayo in Mexico City +5255-1253-5700; Daniel Rúas in Buenos Aires +54 11-4816-2332 ext. 105; Leon Claassen in Johannesburg +27-11-217-5470; Jehad el-Nakla in Dubai +971 4 401 9536; or visit our web site at www.moodys.com

Hong Kong
YoungIl Choi
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Asia Pacific Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: (852) 2916-1150
SUBSCRIBERS: (852) 3551-3077

Singapore
Beatrice Woo
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Singapore Pte Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: (852) 2916-1150
SUBSCRIBERS: (65) 6398-8308

Moody's maintains stable outlook on Korean banking system
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