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Announcement:

Moody's reviews UniCredit MedioCredito Centrale for possible downgrade (Italy)

23 Dec 2010

Milan, December 23, 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service has today placed the A2/Prime-1 long-term and short-term deposit ratings and the C- standalone bank financial strength rating (BFSR) of UniCredit MedioCredito Centrale (MCC) on review for possible downgrade.

Today's rating action was triggered by the recent announcement by UniCredit of an agreement to sell its 100% stake in MCC to Poste Italiane (rated Aa2/P-1, stable). The agreement with Poste Italiane is part of a project by the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance, under which MCC will become the vehicle for the creation of Banca del Mezzogiorno. The transaction is expected to close in spring 2011, subject to regulatory approvals.

As defined in Italy's national budget law for 2010, the aim of Banca del Mezzogiorno will be to provide lending services to small enterprises in the less developed region of southern Italy, continue the activity of MCC as provider of government-subsidised funding schemes to SMEs, as well as develop advisory activities. Moody's notes that the lending activity will be an important new business line that would raise the risk profile of MCC over the medium term. To date, MCC has benefited from the low-risk activities and strong ongoing support for its operations and financials from UniCredit. However, according to Moody's, the bank's standalone financial strength will be challenged going forward because of the economic weakness of the southern region of Italy in which the planned lending activity will be concentrated, the more limited underwriting expertise of Poste Italiane as well as implementation risk considerations.

Following the recent reorganisation of MCC by its parent earlier this year, MCC effectively became UniCredit's specialised vehicle for the management and provision of government-subsidised funding schemes to SMEs in Italy, a small segment of the public-sector business in which the bank has a strong and long-established position. To date, this commission-driven business was also backed by a very high capital buffer allocated by the parent.

Moody's notes that the project of the Banca del Mezzogiorno is still at an initial stage and that there are significant strategic elements that are still undefined or undisclosed. In particular, although this initiative is public in nature, the relevant law stipulates that the future shareholding of the bank should change in favour of private banks entering the capital share of MCC together with Poste Italiane. The Banca del Mezzogiorno will initially operate as a second-level bank, using Poste Italiane's networks in southern Italy and potentially also those of other banking groups. The Italian government will participate in the project with a minimal direct stake, and would provide funding support with the possibility of the bank issuing government-guaranteed bonds in the initial years of its operations.

Moody's review for possible downgrade of MCC's ratings will primarily focus on the bank's stand-alone strength after its sale to Poste Italiane, and the extent to which MCC will retain a sustainable business model, characterized by good levels of profitability, an adequate risk profile and sufficient capitalisation. Moody's says that gaining a clearer visibility of these factors in the creation of the Banca del Mezzogiorno, combined with a detailed business plan, will be important inputs to the review process.

A possible downgrade of the standalone BFSR would also weaken the standing of the deposit ratings, which currently incorporate three notches of uplift as a result of the application of Moody's joint default analysis methodology. "With respect to the deposit ratings of MCC, Moody's currently perceives as unclear the long-term balance between the public policy mandate of this new institution and the economic interest of the private banks which could become part of this initiative, and how this would be also reflected in the shareholding composition of the bank in the future," says Simone Zampa, a Milan-based Moody's Vice President - Senior Analyst, and lead analyst for this issuer.

The following ratings of UMCC were affected by today's rating action:

- Long-term bank deposit ratings of A2 placed under review for possible downgrade

- Short-term bank deposit ratings of Prime-1 placed under review for possible downgrade

- Bank Financial Strength Rating of C- placed under review for possible downgrade

The last rating action on UMCC was implemented in July 2010, when the bank's long-term deposit rating was downgraded and the BFSR was affirmed.

The principal methodology used in rating this issuer was Moody's "Bank Financial Strength Ratings: Global Methodology", published in February 2007 and "Incorporation of Joint-Default Analysis into Moody's Bank Ratings: A Refined Methodology", published in March 2007, available on www.moodys.com. Other methodologies and factors that may have been considered in the process of rating this issuer can also be found on Moody's website.

Headquartered in Rome, Italy, UniCredit MedioCredito Centrale had total assets of EUR1.2 billion as at 30 September 2010.

Milan
Simone Zampa
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Italia S.r.l
Telephone:+39-02-9148-1100

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

Moody's Italia S.r.l
Corso di Porta Romana 68
Milan 20122
Italy
Telephone:+39-02-9148-1100

Moody's reviews UniCredit MedioCredito Centrale for possible downgrade (Italy)
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