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Announcement:

Moody's reports: UK banking system faces negative credit outlook as economic downturn poses challenges

30 May 2008
Moody's reports: UK banking system faces negative credit outlook as economic downturn poses challenges

London, 30 May 2008 -- The fundamental credit outlook for the UK banking system is negative, as the domestic economy has entered a downturn that is likely to result in an increase in bad debts for lenders as well as lower lending volumes and lower profitability, says Moody's Investors Service in its new Banking System Outlook for the United Kingdom.

Moody's negative outlook for the UK 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.

The rating agency's central risk scenario for the UK economy assumes a marked slowdown in private consumption in 2008, driven by more restrictive borrowing conditions, and a downward correction in house prices -- all of which poses challenges for the UK banking system.

"In addition, the global credit crisis continues to lead to significant writedowns of structured exposures for some of the larger UK banks and funding stresses for smaller institutions. Relatively lower capital levels at some of the UK banks have left them less well prepared to enter a more challenging operating environment," say the authors of the report. Moody's continues to examine the ability of banks to absorb the stresses through their capital and earnings.

Despite the challenges, Moody's still considers the overall financial strength of the UK banking sector to be strong. The large banks have solid franchises supported by considerable diversification of earnings by product and geography, and strong liquidity underpinned by diversified funding sources and stable deposit bases.

"The liquidity crisis at Northern Rock -- and the subsequent time it took regulators and governments to finalise their response to such a crisis -- has led to a sharp re-focus on the liquidity planning of UK institutions and stability of their funding sources. Notwithstanding this incident, our analysis suggests that the liquidity position of the major UK banks remains stable and well diversified," Moody's analysts explain.

The rating agency's key concerns for mortgage lenders are asset quality and funding. However, on the basis of its stress tests, Moody's does not expect the underlying asset quality of the mortgage lenders' portfolios to deteriorate to such an extent that it eats into their core capital base. In addition, whilst some mortgage lenders have very strong retail deposit bases, those that do not have put in place additional funding measures that should enable them to weather the difficulties in the capital markets.

Moody's has taken rating actions on nine entities within the UK banking sector since the start of the credit crisis, primarily as a result of these challenges. Although it believes most entities can manage the downturn at current rating levels, some further adjustments of ratings are possible in 2008.

* * * * *

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For a copy of this report, please contact EMEA Press Information in London +44-20-7772-5456; New York Press Information +1-212-553-0376; Juan Pablo Soriano in Madrid +34-91-310-1454; Alex Cataldo in Milan +39-02-914-81-100; Eric de Bodard in Paris +331-5330-1076; Detlef Scholz in Frankfurt +49-69-707-30-700; Mardig Haladjian in Limassol +357-25-586-586; Alex Sazhin in Moscow +7495-641-1881; 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; Sydney Press Information +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; Craig Jamieson in Johannesburg +27-11-217-5470; Jehad el-Nakla in Dubai +971 4 365 0284; or visit our web site at www.moodys.com

London
Elisabeth Rudman
VP - Senior Credit Officer
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

No Related Data.
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