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Rating Action:

Moody's reviews Bank of America for upgrade (holdco senior at A3)

05 Dec 2018

New York, December 05, 2018 -- Moody's Investors Service ("Moody's") has placed on review for upgrade all long-term and short-term ratings of Bank of America Corporation (BAC, senior debt at A3, short-term at Prime-2) as well as the long-term ratings and assessments of its lead bank, Bank of America, N.A. (BANA, Aa3 for deposits) and of certain other subsidiaries. Moody's also affirmed the Prime-1 short-term ratings and P-1(cr) counterparty risk assessments at BANA and its rated branches. A complete list of affected ratings and entities can be found at the end of this press release.

RATINGS RATIONALE

The review for upgrade reflects Bank of America's strengthening profitability, especially from its non-capital markets businesses, continued maintenance of its conservative risk appetite, and stable capital ratios despite an increase in capital payouts.

Since Moody's last upgraded Bank of America a year ago the bank has continued to generate consistent positive operating leverage, aided by ongoing cost discipline, rising interest rates, and a leading retail deposit base which has continued to exhibit low deposit betas. This, together with a lower effective tax rate due to US tax reform, has boosted the bank's profitability as measured by return on tangible assets after preferred dividends to over 1.1% and above that of similarly rated peers. At the same time, the firm has continued to maintain a more conservative risk appetite than at many of its peers. Evidence of this includes continued greater resiliency of its performance under the Federal Reserve's stress tests as well as the bank's more cautious approach to loan growth than at many of its peers and its decision to "not chase the market" in leveraged lending.

BAC's improved profitability has occurred most notably in its consumer banking and wealth management business segments, reducing the firm's dependence on its investment banking and capital markets business. The bank has indicated that operating expenses should remain essentially flat over the next two years, even as the firm continues to make significant additional investments in technology. This should help sustain BAC's improved profitability while also ensuring that the bank's strong franchises in retail and commercial banking and wealth management remain competitive.

The improved profitability has also helped sustain the bank's regulatory capital ratios this year, notwithstanding an increase in its payout to shareholders and a sizeable increase in unrealized losses on investment securities due to higher long-term interest rates. Going forward the rating agency expects BAC will continue to increase its shareholder payouts, subject to regulatory approval. As a result, BAC's capital ratios could decline, although the extent of such decline will depend upon the future rigor of Federal Reserve stress tests.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

Moody's review for upgrade will focus on the sustainability of BAC's improved profitability, the resiliency of the bank's diverse mix of businesses to a more stressful operating environment, and whether the bank is considering any changes to its risk appetite in light of recent pressures in its investment banking and capital markets businesses. The review will also consider BAC's future capital and funding plans, including management targets for the amount of total loss absorbing capacity and holding company long-term debt. Under Moody's loss-given-failure (LGF) analysis a sustained reduction in the volume of holding company debt outstanding would increase the potential severity of loss for bondholders in the event of the bank's failure. Any reduction in LGF uplift would offset the benefit of BAC's improved credit profile and could lead to a confirmation of BAC's current holding company debt ratings and BANA's subordinated and senior unsecured debt ratings even if the bank's baseline credit assessment, deposit ratings and counterparty risk ratings were upgraded.

Bank of America's ratings outlook may be returned to stable or the ratings may be downgraded if the bank suffers a sustained decline in profitability, experiences a significant deterioration in capital or liquidity levels relative to peers and targets, exhibits a marked increase in its risk appetite, or experiences a sizeable operational risk charge or control failure.

The following ratings actions were taken:

On Review for Upgrade:

..Issuer: Bank of America Corporation

.... Commercial Paper, currently P-2

.... LT Issuer Rating, currently A3, Rating Under Review; previously A3, Stable

.... Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, currently (P)A3

.... Subordinate Medium-Term Note Program, currently (P)Baa2

.... Other Short Term Medium-Term Note Program, currently (P)P-2

.... Senior Unsecured Shelf, currently (P)A3

.... Pref. Shelf Non-cumulative, currently (P)Ba1

.... Pref. Shelf, currently (P)Baa3

.... Junior Subordinate Shelf, currently (P)Baa3

.... Subordinate Shelf, currently (P)Baa2

.... Pref. Stock Non-cumulative, currently Ba1 (hyb)

.... Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture, currently Baa2

.... Senior Subordinated Regular Bond/Debenture, currently Baa2

.... Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, currently A3, Rating Under Review; previously A3, Stable

..Issuer: Bank of America, N.A.

.... Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, currently baa1

.... Baseline Credit Assessment, currently baa1

.... LT Counterparty Risk Assessment, currently Aa3(cr)

.... LT Counterparty Risk Rating, currently Aa3

.... LT Issuer Rating, currently Aa3, Rating Under Review; previously Aa3, Stable

.... Subordinate Bank Note Program, currently (P)A1

.... Senior Unsecured Bank Note Program, currently (P)Aa3

.... Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture, currently A1

.... Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, currently Aa3, Rating Under Review; previously Aa3, Stable

.... LT Deposit Rating, currently Aa3, Rating Under Review; previously Aa3, Stable

..Issuer: B of A Issuance B.V.

.... Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, currently A3, Rating Under Review; previously A3, Stable

..Issuer: BA Australia Limited

.... Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, currently (P)Aa3

..Issuer: BAC Capital Trust XIII

.... Pref. Stock Non-cumulative, currently Ba1 (hyb)

..Issuer: BAC Capital Trust XIV

.... Pref. Stock Non-cumulative, currently Ba1 (hyb)

..Issuer: BAC Capital Trust XV

.... Pref. Stock, currently Baa3 (hyb)

..Issuer: Bank of America, N.A. (Sydney Branch)

.... LT Counterparty Risk Assessment, currently Aa3(cr)

.... LT Counterparty Risk Rating, currently Aa3

.... Subordinate Medium-Term Note Program, currently (P)A1

.... Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, currently (P)Aa3

..Issuer: Bank of America, N.A., London Branch

.... LT Counterparty Risk Assessment, currently Aa3(cr)

.... LT Counterparty Risk Rating, currently Aa3

.... LT Deposit Note/CD Program, currently (P)Aa3

..Issuer: BofA Finance LLC

.... Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, currently (P)A3

.... Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, currently A3, Rating Under Review; previously A3, Stable

.... Senior Unsecured Shelf, currently (P)A3

..Issuer: Countrywide Capital III

.... Pref. Stock, currently Baa3 (hyb)

..Issuer: LaSalle Bank N.A.

.... LT Deposit Note/CD Program, currently Aa3, Rating Under Review; previously Aa3, Stable

..Issuer: LaSalle Funding LLC

.... Senior Unsecured Shelf, currently (P)A3

.... Subordinate Shelf, currently (P)Baa2

.... Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, currently (P)A3

.... Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, currently A3, Rating Under Review; previously A3, Stable

..Issuer: BAC Canada Finance Company

.... Subordinate Medium-Term Note Program, currently (P)Baa2

.... Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, currently (P)A3

.... Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, currently A3, Rating Under Review; previously A3, Stable

.... Senior Unsecured Shelf, currently (P)A3

..Issuer: FleetBoston Financial Corporation

.... Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture, currently Baa2

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.

.... Subordinate Regular Bond/Debenture, currently Baa2

.... Senior Unsecured Conv./Exch. Bond/Debenture, currently A3, Rating Under Review; previously A3, Stable

.... Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, currently A3, Rating Under Review; previously A3, Stable

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch Capital Trust I

....Pref. Stock, currently Baa3 (hyb)

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch Credit Reinsurance Ltd.

.... LT Issuer Rating, currently Baa1, Rating Under Review; previously Baa1, Stable

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch International & Co. C.V.

.... Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, currently (P)A3

.... Other Short Term Medium-Term Note Program, currently (P)P-2

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch Japan Finance GK

.... Senior Unsecured Medium-Term Note Program, currently (P)A3

.... Other Short Term Medium-Term Note Program, currently (P)P-2

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch Reinsurance Solutions Ltd.

.... LT Issuer Rating, currently Baa1, Rating Under Review; previously Baa1, Stable

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch S.A.

.... Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, currently A3, Rating Under Review; previously A3, Stable

Affirmations:

..Issuer: BA Australia Limited

.... Other Short Medium-Term Note Program, Affirmed (P)P-1

..Issuer: Bank of America, N.A.

.... ST Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed P-1(cr)

.... ST Counterparty Risk Rating, Affirmed P-1

.... ST Deposit Rating, Affirmed P-1

.... ST Bank Note Program, Affirmed (P)P-1

.... Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-1

..Issuer: Bank of America, N.A. (Sydney Branch)

.... ST Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed P-1(cr)

.... ST Counterparty Risk Rating, Affirmed P-1

.... Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-1

..Issuer: Bank of America, N.A., London Branch

.... ST Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed P-1(cr)

.... ST Counterparty Risk Rating, Affirmed P-1

.... ST Deposit Note/CD Program, Affirmed (P)P-1

.... Commercial Paper, Affirmed P-1

Outlook Actions:

..Issuer: B of A Issuance B.V.

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From No Outlook

..Issuer: BA Australia Limited

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From No Outlook

..Issuer: BAC Capital Trust XIII

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From No Outlook

..Issuer: BAC Capital Trust XIV

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From No Outlook

..Issuer: BAC Capital Trust XV

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From No Outlook

..Issuer: Bank of America Corporation

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From Stable

..Issuer: Bank of America, N.A.

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From Stable

..Issuer: Bank of America, N.A. (Sydney Branch)

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From Stable

..Issuer: Bank of America, N.A., London Branch

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From No Outlook

..Issuer: BofA Finance LLC

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From Stable

..Issuer: Countrywide Capital III

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From No Outlook

..Issuer: LaSalle Bank N.A.

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From No Outlook

..Issuer: LaSalle Funding LLC

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From Stable

..Issuer: BAC Canada Finance Company

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From Stable

..Issuer: FleetBoston Financial Corporation

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From No Outlook

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From No Outlook

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch Capital Trust I

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From No Outlook

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch Credit Reinsurance Ltd.

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From Stable

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch International & Co. C.V.

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From No Outlook

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch Japan Finance GK

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From No Outlook

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch Reinsurance Solutions Ltd.

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From Stable

..Issuer: Merrill Lynch S.A.

....Outlook, Changed To Rating Under Review From No Outlook

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Banks published in August 2018. Please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the credit rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular credit rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

For any affected securities or rated entities receiving direct credit support from the primary entity(ies) of this credit rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this credit rating action, the associated regulatory disclosures will be those of the guarantor entity. Exceptions to this approach exist for the following disclosures, if applicable to jurisdiction: Ancillary Services, Disclosure to rated entity, Disclosure from rated entity.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

David Fanger
Senior Vice President
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

Ana Arsov
MD - Financial Institutions
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 1 212 553 0376
Client Service: 1 212 553 1653

No Related Data.
© 2018 Moody’s Corporation, Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., Moody’s Analytics, Inc. and/or their licensors and affiliates (collectively, “MOODY’S”). All rights reserved.

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