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Rating Action:

Moody's places Hansapank's BFSR on review; negative outlook on Swedbank

18 Jan 2008
Moody's places Hansapank's BFSR on review; negative outlook on Swedbank

Outlook on Hansapank's Aa2 long-term GLC deposit rating changed to negative

London, 18 January 2008 -- Moody's Investors Service has today placed on review for possible downgrade the C+ bank financial strength rating (BFSR) of AS Hansapank, Swedbank AB's Baltic subsidiary, and changed the outlook on the bank's Aa2 long-term global local currency (GLC) deposit rating to negative from stable. The rating action was prompted by Moody's concerns over the bank's high exposure to the overheating mortgage, real-estate and construction markets in the Baltic countries. Hansapank's A1 long-term foreign currency deposit rating, which is constrained by Estonia's A1 foreign currency deposit ceiling, was affirmed with a stable outlook, as were its Prime-1 short-term local and foreign currency ratings.

At the same time, and in response to the placing on review of Hansapank, Moody's has changed to negative from stable the rating outlook on Swedbank AB's B BFSR and Aa1 long-term deposit rating. The short-term rating of P-1 was affirmed.

All ratings of Swedbank's two Ukrainian subsidiaries TAS-Kommerzbank and TAS-Investbank were affirmed. The rating affirmations are based on Moody's view, that possible negative development of Swedbank's ratings in the medium term is unlikely to affect ratings of these entities due to the large rating differential between Swedbank and its Ukrainian subsidiaries, as well as the continued high support probability from Swedbank.

AS HANSAPANK

"In view of the oversupply in residential premises in Latvia and Estonia created by the construction boom in 2005 and 2006, the current uncertain economic outlook and increasing inflation, Moody's holds a less favourable outlook for the residential real estate market. As a result of lower demand, some developers are experiencing difficulties in meeting loan payments, thus affecting Hansapank," explains Virginie Merlin, a Moody's Vice President-Senior Analyst and lead analyst for Hansapank.

Moody's notes that Hansapank has a 50% market share of all mortgage lending in Estonia, and around 30% in Latvia and Lithuania. Its loan portfolio has grown rapidly -- by 44% annually at the end of September 2007 -- thus significantly reducing the seasoning of the loan book. In addition, it displays significant concentration to construction and real estate companies. "A further deterioration of the Baltic real estate markets could therefore have a negative impact on Hansapank's asset quality. In this context, Moody's expects Hansapank's non-performing loan ratios to increase and its profitability to decline going forward," Ms Merlin adds.

However, Moody's believes that the bank's good level of collateral mitigates these concerns to some extent, although this collateral is chiefly in the form of properties that would also be affected by a deterioration in real estate markets. The aggregate loan-to-value of the mortgage book is also satisfactory. In addition, Moody's notes positively Hansapank's introduction of stricter lending policies, which has resulted in a slowdown in mortgage lending growth in Estonia and Latvia. Hansapank's adequate capitalisation, good profitability and good level of reserves also provide it with some risk absorption capacity in the event of a deterioration in real estate markets.

Moody's cautions that further downward pressure on the ratings could develop in the event of a further deterioration in real estate markets, with an impact on the existing significant exposure to the real estate management sector as well as individual mortgages. Moody's will therefore closely monitor the evolution of real estate markets in each of the Baltic countries as well as its consequences for Hansapank's asset quality.

SWEDBANK AB

Swedbank's exposure to the Baltic markets remains significant through Hansapank, which contributed almost 30% of the group's total operating profits for the first nine months of 2007. Meanwhile, the Baltic loan book represented more than 15% of Swedbank Group's total loan portfolio. Moreover, Moody's notes that Swedbank's Baltic loan portfolio has grown at a significantly faster pace than that in Sweden, with 27% growth in the Baltic region in the first nine months of 2007, compared with 11% in Sweden. On a positive note, Swedbank continued to report good asset quality at the end of Q3 2007, although Moody's notes that the asset quality of its Baltic portfolio is softer than that of its core Swedish portfolio.

Moody's remains concerned that the extremely strong lending growth in the Baltic countries has resulted in a less seasoned loan book. Moody's continues to take comfort from the integration of subsidiaries into Swedbank's risk systems, thereby mitigating the risks stemming from rapid growth. The rating agency takes additional comfort from Hansapank's active measures to curb high credit growth in the region. Moody's will continue to monitor closely the development of Swedbank's Baltic loan portfolio.

While Swedbank's core Swedish operations have provided Swedbank with a stable recurring revenue base over the past couple of years, improved profitability at the group level has been largely driven by Baltic banking. Moody's assesses the operating environments in the Baltics as being weaker than that in Sweden. Therefore, revenues stemming from the Baltic banking operations are viewed as more volatile than those of Swedbank's core Nordic businesses.

Moody's also changed the outlook on Swedbank Mortgage AB, the provider of Swedish mortgages. Swedbank Mortgage's debt ratings reflect the implied support from the parent bank, Swedbank AB, and therefore the change of the outlook for Swedbank AB also affect the debt ratings of Swedbank Mortgage AB.

Moody's implemented the following rating actions today:

The BFSR of AS Hansapank (C+) was placed on review for possible downgrade. The outlook on the BFSR of Swedbank AB (B) was changed to negative from stable.

The long-term local currency deposit rating (Aa2) of AS Hansapank was placed on negative outlook. The long-term foreign currency deposit rating (A1) of AS Hansapank was affirmed with stable outlook.

The long-term deposit ratings of Swedbank AB (Aa1), Swedbank Mortgage AB (Aa1) and Swedbank AB, New York branch (Aa1) were placed on negative outlook.

The short-term Prime-1 ratings of Swedbank AB, Swedbank Mortgage AB and AS Hansapank were affirmed.

All ratings of TAS-Kommerzbank (B2/Ba2) and TAS-Investbank (B2/Ba2) were affirmed.

Headquarted in Tallinn, Estonia, AS Hansapank reported consolidated assets of EUR24 billion at the end of September 2007.

Headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden, Swedbank AB reported consolidated assets of SEK1,575 billion (EUR171 billion) at the end of September 2007.

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

Paris
Virginie Merlin
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's France S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

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