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Rating Action:

Moody's take rating actions on four Chinese banks; assigns CR assessments to fourteen banks

 The document has been translated in other languages

18 Jun 2015

Hong Kong, June 18, 2015 -- Moody's Investors Service has today placed on review for upgrade China Merchants Bank Co., Ltd.'s (CMB) long-term deposit rating of Baa1 and China Guangfa Bank Co., Ltd.'s (CGB) long-term deposit rating of Ba2. Moody's has also affirmed the short-term deposit ratings, baseline credit assessment (BCA) and adjusted BCA of the two banks, and affirmed CMB's short-term Senior Unsecured Medium Term Notes (MTN) program at (P)P-2, while placing on review for upgrade CMB's long-term Senior Unsecured MTN program of the bank and its branches.

The review for upgrade reflects Moody's re-assessment of government support for these two banks. Moody's review will assess whether to increase the amount of support included in the two banks' ratings in the context of their market position and shareholding structure, and will be concluded in the next three months.

At the same time, Moody's has affirmed the ratings and withdrawn the outlooks on all the junior securities issued by Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. (ICBC) and Bank of China Limited (BOC).

Moody's has withdrawn the outlooks on all junior instrument ratings for its own business reasons. Please refer to Moody's Investors Service's Policy for Withdrawal of Credit Ratings, available on its website, www.moodys.com.

Outlooks, which provide an opinion on likely rating direction over the medium term, are now assigned only to long-term deposit, long-term issuer and senior unsecured debt ratings.

Meanwhile, Moody's assigned Counterparty Risk Assessments (CR Assessments) to 14 Chinese banks and their branches following the publication of the rating agency's new bank rating methodology published on 16 March 2015.

A list of the affected ratings and CR Assessments can be found at the end of this press release.

RATINGS RATIONALE

REVIEW FOR UPGRADE FOR CMB AND CGB'S DEPOSIT RATINGS

In assessing how much extraordinary government support a particular Chinese bank would receive under a situation of stress, Moody's usually considers two broad dimensions for Chinese banks. The first is potential contagion risk which captures the risk that the unmitigated failure of the bank would trigger panic episodes and undermine general confidence in the broader financial system. And the second is the form and extent of public involvement, which reflects the economic interests the government (or government-related institutions) would miss out on if a bank were to cease as a going concern.

The rating actions for CMB reflect a re-evaluation of the importance of the bank to the financial system as its deposit market share has increased over time and it is a major affiliate of the China Merchants Group Ltd. (unrated), a state-owned conglomerate. Also, its failure could cause high potential contagion risk as it has the largest proportion of retail deposits in its deposit mix among rated joint-stock commercial banks.

Moody's review of CMB's deposit ratings will consider the likeliness of government support due to CMB's increasing market share and large retail deposit base. At the same time, the review will consider the financial strength of its major shareholder, China Merchants Group Ltd, and its strategic linkage with the government and CMB.

This rating action for CGB reflects the re-evaluation of the potential contagion risk of CGB's failure to the economy of Guangdong Province and the impact on the broader national economy due to its national presence and shares majority-owned by SOEs. CGB is the only national joint-stock commercial banks based in Guangdong, and has a 3.2% deposit market and 4.6% loans market share in the region at end-September 2014. It is also ranks first among financial institutions in terms of tax contribution to the Guangdong Provincial government. Being a national joint-stock commercial bank, 72% of its shares were owned by the government or government-related entities by end-2014.

Moody's review of CGB's deposit ratings will consider the linkage between the bank and the local government and economy, as the bank is a major tax contributor to the local economy, and has a higher market share in deposits and loans compared to many other joint-stock commercial banks. At the same time, the review will consider the willingness of the central and local governments to support the bank, as the failure of the bank could harm market perceptions of the governments' own creditworthiness and policy creditability. The review will also consider the government support channeling from its major SOE shareholders, by evaluating their financial strengths and their strategic linkages with the government and CGB.

AFFIRMATION OF RATINGS ON JUNIOR SECURITIES

Chinese banks' adjusted BCAs, which measure the probability of a bank requiring support to avoid default beyond the support provided by its affiliates, are unaffected by the implementation of Moody's new bank rating methodology.

Specifically, the adjusted BCAs for BOC and ICBC reflect Moody's assessment of their macro profiles ("Strong-" for BOC and "Moderate+" for ICBC) and their good core financial scores. These two banks have satisfactory solvency ratios and strong liquidity metrics.

BOC's macro profile of "Strong-," is an asset-weighted average of Moody's assessment on China ("Moderate+), Hong Kong (Strong+) and World (Strong).

ICBC's macro profile of "Moderate+" reflects Moody's assessment on China, as overseas operations accounted for less than 10% of its total consolidated assets.

In addition, because going-concern resolutions are not part of the public policy framework in China, Moody's applies a "Basic Loss Given Failure" approach in rating Chinese banks' junior securities. Based on this approach, the notching from an adjusted baseline credit assessment for contractual non-viability subordinated debt and preference shares remains unchanged.

Moody's has affirmed the ratings on ICBC's and BOC's junior securities because the two key factors underpinning these ratings, as discussed above, are unaffected by the implementation of the new bank rating methodology.

Moody's currently does not assume government support would be available for Basel III-compliant subordinated debt and preference shares issued by Chinese banks, as these securities are meant to absorb loss before any extraordinary government bailout.

The ratings on the junior securities could be raised if the issuing bank's adjusted BCA is raised, or if Moody's assesses that a government bailout would be forthcoming before these securities absorb any loss.

The adjusted BCAs for BOC and ICBC could come under upward pressure if (1) they maintain their asset quality, profitability and liquidity profile while strengthening their capital position; (2) economic rebalancing proceeds smoothly without producing significant financial or growth shocks.

On the other hand, the ratings on the junior securities could be lowered if the issuing bank's adjusted BCA is lowered, or Moody's assesses that these securities would need to absorb any loss before the bank becomes non-viable.

The adjusted BCAs for BOC and ICBC could come under downward pressure if (1) the Chinese authorities become less inclined to use policy tools to support the bank's credit profile; (2) China's economic growth slows substantially, leading to significant pressure on the bank's asset quality; (3) aggressive market reform is implemented, materially reducing the bank's profitability; (4) core Tier 1 capital ratio declines significantly, reducing loss cushion for creditors.

ASSIGNMENT OF COUNTERPARTY RISK ASSESSMENTS

CR Assessments are opinions of how counterparty obligations are likely to be treated if a bank fails and are distinct from debt and deposit ratings in that CR Assessments (1) consider only the risk of default rather than expected loss; and (2) apply to counterparty obligations and contractual commitments rather than debt or deposit instruments. The CR assessment is an opinion of the counterparty risk related to a bank's covered bonds, contractual performance obligations (servicing), derivatives (e.g., swaps), letters of credit, guarantees and liquidity facilities.

The CR Assessment takes into account the issuer's standalone strength as well as the likelihood of affiliate and government support in the event of need, reflecting the anticipated seniority of these obligations in the liabilities hierarchy. The CR Assessment also incorporates other steps authorities can take to preserve the key operations of a bank should it enter a resolution.

For the Chinese banks, the CR Assessment is positioned, prior to government support, at one notch above the Adjusted BCA, reflecting Moody's view that its probability of default is lower than those of senior unsecured debt and deposits in absence of government support.

For the Chinese banks, except for subsidiaries of foreign banks, the CR Assessments also benefit from government support, broadly in line with Moody's support assumptions on deposits. This reflects Moody's view that any support provided by governmental authorities to a bank, which benefits deposits, is very likely to benefit operating activities and obligations reflected by the CR Assessment as well, consistent with Moody's belief that governments are likely to maintain such operations as a going-concern in order to reduce contagion and preserve a bank's critical functions.

As a result, the CR Assessments for Chinese banks could be positioned at one notch higher than their deposit ratings. However, for Chinese banks whose deposit ratings already incorporate a very high or high level of government support, their CR Assessments are positioned at the deposit ratings, reflecting Moody's view that the probability of default on their operating liabilities would not be materially different from that of deposits after government support and in the event of bank resolution. In arriving at this view, Moody's has taken into account the fact that China does not have a transparent operational resolution regime that creates confidence that operating liabilities have a lower probability of default for banks whose deposit ratings also benefit from a material amount of government support. Also, Moody's judgment is that supporting deposits is likely to be one of the Chinese government's highest priorities when it provides extraordinary support to prevent a bank failure.

By contrast, in the case of four banks where there is lower probability of government support, Moody's has positioned the CR Assessment one notch higher than the deposit rating. These banks are: HSBC Bank (China) Co., Ltd. (A1/P-1, BCA baa3), Hang Seng Bank (China) Ltd. (A2/P-1, BCA ba1), Fubon Bank (China) Co., Ltd.(Baa1/P-2, BCA ba2) and Ping An Bank Co., Ltd.(Baa2/P-2, BCA ba2). All of these bank ratings benefit from affiliate support in their ratings, from their foreign bank parents in the case of the first three and from the Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China, Ltd. in the case of Ping An Bank Co., Ltd.

Moody's has not assigned CR Assessments to China Merchants Banks Co., Ltd and China Guangfa Bank Co., Ltd., because the government support assumptions incorporated in their deposit ratings are under review.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS:

Bank of China Limited (Lead analyst: Christine Kuo)

• Subordinated debt affirmed at Baa3(hyb) with no outlook

• Pref. Stock Non-cumulative affirmed at Ba2 (hyb) with no outlook

China Merchants Bank Co., Ltd. (Lead analyst: Sean Hung)

• Long-term bank deposits at Baa1 placed on review for upgrade

• Long-term senior unsecured MTN at (P)Baa1 placed on review for upgrade

• Short-term bank deposits affirmed at P-2

• Short-term senior unsecured MTN affirmed at (P)P-2

• BCA and adjusted BCA affirmed at baa3

China Merchants Bank Co., Ltd., Hong Kong Branch (Lead analyst: Sean Hung)

• Long-term senior unsecured MTN at (P)Baa1 placed on review for upgrade

• Long-term senior unsecured debt at Baa1 placed on review for upgrade

China Merchants Bank Co., Ltd., Luxembourg Branch (Lead analyst: Sean Hung)

• Long-term Senior unsecured MTN at (P)Baa1 placed on review for upgrade

• Short-term Senior unsecured MTN affirmed at (P)P-2

China Merchants Bank Co., Ltd., New York Branch (Lead analyst: Sean Hung)

• Long-term senior unsecured MTN at (P)Baa1 placed on review for upgrade

• Long-term senior unsecured debt at Baa1 placed on review for upgrade

• Short-term senior unsecured MTN affirmed at (P)P-2

China Merchants Bank Co., Ltd., Singapore Branch (Lead analyst: Sean Hung)

• Long-term senior unsecured MTN at (P)Baa1 placed on review for upgrade

• Short-term senior unsecured MTN affirmed at (P)P-2

China Guangfa Bank Co., Ltd. (Lead analyst: Sean Hung)

• Bank Deposits at Ba2 placed on review for upgrade

• Short-term bank deposits affirmed at NP

• BCA and adjusted BCA affirmed at ba3

Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. (Lead analyst: Christine Kuo)

• Pref. Stock Non-cumulative affirmed at Ba2 (hyb) with no outlook

LIST OF CR ASSESSMENTS:

• Agricultural Bank of China Limited and its New York, Dubai and Hong Kong branches: A1(cr)/P-1(cr) (Lead analyst: Christine Kuo)

• Bank of China Limited and its Frankfurt, Hong Kong, London, Luxembourg, Paris, Singapore, Sydney, Taipei and Tokyo branches: A1(cr)/P-1(cr) (Lead analyst: Christine Kuo)

• Bank of Communications Co., Ltd. And its Hong Kong branch:A2(cr)/P-1(cr) (Lead analyst: Sean Hung)

• Bank of Ningbo Co., Ltd. :Baa2(cr)/P-2(cr) (Lead analyst: Sean Hung)

• Bank of Shanghai Co., Ltd. :Baa3(cr)/P-3(cr) (Lead analyst: Sean Hung)

• China CITIC Bank Corporation Limited: Baa1(cr)/P-2(cr) (Lead analyst: Christine Kuo)

• China Construction Bank Corporation and its Frankfurt, Hong Kong and New York branches:A1(cr)/P-1(cr) (Lead analyst: Christine Kuo)

• China Everbright Bank Company Limited:Baa2(cr)/P-2(cr) (Lead analyst: Christine Kuo)

• Fubon Bank (China) Co., Ltd.:A3(cr)/P-2(cr) (Lead analyst: Ginger Kao)

• HSBC Bank (China) Company Limited:Aa3(cr)/P-1(cr) (Lead analyst: Sean Hung)

• Hang Seng Bank (China) Limited:A1(cr)/P-1(cr) (Lead analyst: Sean Hung)

• Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd. And its Dubai, Luxembourg, New York, Singapore and Sydney branches: A1(cr)/P-1(cr) (Lead analyst: Christine Kuo)

• Ping An Bank Co., Ltd.:Baa1(cr)/P-2(cr) (Lead analyst: Sean Hung)

• Shanghai Pudong Development Bank Co., Ltd.: Baa1(cr)/P-2(cr) (Lead analyst: Sean Hung)

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Banks published in March 2015. Please see the Credit Policy 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 rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular 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 rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this 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.

The following information supplements Disclosure 10 ("Information Relating to Conflicts of Interest as required by Paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(J) of SEC Rule 17g-7") in the regulatory disclosures made at the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for each credit rating as indicated:

Moody's was not paid for services other than determining a credit rating in the most recently ended fiscal year by the person(s) that paid Moody's to determine this credit rating.

The below contact information is provided for information purposes only. Please see the ratings tab of the issuer page at www.moodys.com, for each of the ratings covered, Moody's disclosures on the lead analyst and the Moody's legal entity that has issued the ratings

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.

The first name below is the lead rating analyst for this Credit Rating and the last name below is the person primarily responsible for approving this Credit Rating.

Christine Kuo
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Hong Kong Ltd.
24/F One Pacific Place
88 Queensway
Hong Kong
China (Hong Kong S.A.R.)
JOURNALISTS: (852) 3758 -1350
SUBSCRIBERS: (852) 3551-3077

Stephen Long
MD - Financial Institutions
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: (852) 3758 -1350
SUBSCRIBERS: (852) 3551-3077

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Hong Kong Ltd.
24/F One Pacific Place
88 Queensway
Hong Kong
China (Hong Kong S.A.R.)
JOURNALISTS: (852) 3758 -1350
SUBSCRIBERS: (852) 3551-3077

Moody's take rating actions on four Chinese banks; assigns CR assessments to fourteen banks
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