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Announcement:

Moody's outlook for the Irish banking system remains negative

15 Dec 2009

London, 15 December 2009 -- The fundamental credit outlook for the Irish banking system remains negative, reflecting that the domestic operating environment will remain very challenging as a result of the large economic adjustments that are taking place, says Moody's Investors Service in its new Banking System Outlook on Ireland.

Moody's negative credit outlook for the Irish banking system expresses the rating agency's view on the likely future direction of fundamental credit conditions in the industry over the next 12 to 18 months. It does not represent a projection of rating upgrades versus downgrades.

Moody's expects that the bursting of the property bubble that has led to commercial property values halving and residential property values coming down by over a quarter at the end of 2009, together with the weak current economic environment in Ireland will continue to feed through into very substantial arrears and losses. In addition the Irish banks entered the crisis with relatively low levels of capital and a high reliance on wholesale funding.

Ross Abercromby, the lead analyst for the Irish banks at Moody's said "These developments have led to substantial downward changes in the weighted average Bank Financial Strength Rating (BFSR) of rated Irish banks to D from C over the past 12 months (or, on the alphanumeric BCA scale, by 5 notches to Ba2, from A3), with a further deterioration prevented by the support that some of these banks have already received in the form of capital injections or other measures. The extraordinary government support is furthermore reflected in a less pronounced impact on the banks' debt and deposit ratings, where the weighted average rating declined by two notches only to A2 from Aa3. The average change in the senior debt and deposit ratings has been limited due to the strong support for the sector from the Irish government. Evidence of this includes being the first government to put in place a guarantee on certain liabilities and the EUR11 billion that has been injected into Allied Irish Banks, Anglo Irish Bank and Bank of Ireland. In addition, the establishment of the National Asset Management Agency or NAMA is a key element in the Irish government's support package to the banks. The ongoing pressure on earnings due to high impairment charges and low capitalised banks remains our key focus, however, having already incorporated these in our ratings, we would expect fewer rating actions in Ireland over the next 12-18 months."

The establishment of NAMA by the government was driven by the sector's large exposure to residential and commercial development lending, and investment property and the approximate 50% fall in the value of Irish commercial property. NAMA has in of itself not led to any further rating changes, although the estimated 30% discount on the loans being transferred by the banks to NAMA will crystallise a loss and therefore will have a significant negative impact on the capital base of the five institutions participating. Importantly, we understand that the government does remain committed to providing further capital to the sector if required and certainly for the smaller institutions we believe that the government is the only potential source of capital.

Post-NAMA, the banks will continue to face many challenges to fully cleanse their balance sheets, as NAMA does not capture all of the impaired assets. As well as the remaining asset quality problems and pressure on capital, profitability is likely to reduce as a result of lower volumes and the higher costs of wholesale and retail funding. We would also expect regulation and government intervention to remain a key driver for developments in the Irish banking sector over the coming years, and EU requirements have the potential to lead to changes in the franchises of the large banks that receive state aid. As a result of these factors we believe that the Irish banking system will continue to undergo substantial changes in 2010 with consolidation likely amongst the smaller players as the sector needs to shrink.

Furthermore, Moody's says that any explicit or implicit reduction of the currently extraordinarily high probability of state support, at a time when the intrinsic strength of banks is still low, may result in Moody's further downgrading banks' senior debt and deposit ratings.

The "Banking System Outlook: Ireland" is available on www.moodys.com.

London
Johannes Wassenberg
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

London
Ross Abercromby
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's outlook for the Irish banking system remains negative
No Related Data.
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