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Announcement:

Moody's takes actions on rated Spanish banks further to sovereign rating review

20 Dec 2010

Madrid, December 20, 2010 -- Moody's Investors Service has today taken the following rating actions on Spanish banks, subsequent to the rating agency's decision on 15 December 2010 to place the Kingdom of Spain's Aa1 bond rating on review for possible downgrade:

(i) Placed on review for possible downgrade the deposit and senior debt ratings of 30 Spanish banks and their dated subordinated debt;

(ii) Placed on review for possible downgrade all rated government-backed debt issuances from Spanish banks;

(iii) Placed on review for possible downgrade all Instituto de Credito Oficial's rated long-term debt, which benefits from an unconditional and irrevocable guarantee from the Spanish Government;

(iv) Placed on review with direction uncertain, the Baa3/P-3 deposit and senior debt ratings of Caja de Ahorros de Avila (Caja Avila) and Caja de Ahorros y Monte de Piedad de Segovia (Caja Segovia); and;

(v) Changed the outlook on the standalone Bank Financial Strength Ratings (BFSRs) to negative from stable of Caja España de Inversiones Salamanca y Soria (Caja España) and Caja de Ahorros de Asturias y Sociedades Dependientes (Cajastur).

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

RATINGS RATIONALE

The review for possible downgrade affects both the debt explicitly guaranteed by the Government and most Spanish bank ratings that benefit from any form of systemic support uplift. In this respect, debt ratings that benefit from uplift due to systemic support may be negatively affected by either (i) a weakening in the sovereign's creditworthiness; (ii) or a potential reduction in the likelihood that the Spanish government will support Spanish banks in case of need, although Moody's believes that the incentive of the government to continue to provide support within its capacity remains strong.

Over the course of the review period Moody's will assess to what extent a potentially lower-rated government will be able to support its banking system in case of need. The review will be conducted taking into account the ongoing negative outlook for the Spanish banking system. Within this system, Moody's believes that the banks' capitalisation, profitability and access to market funding will remain weak, driven by the country's difficult economic conditions, continued asset-quality deterioration and the Spanish government's fiscal austerity plans.

In reviewing the deposit and senior debt ratings, Moody's will take into account the conclusion of the review of the sovereign rating. Given that the outcome for the sovereign rating may be more than a single notch (but most likely to remain in the Aa range), a multi-notch downgrade impact of the long-term bank ratings is possible while short-term rating transition is likely to be limited to a single notch.

The long-term ratings affirmed refer to institutions whose ratings currently benefit from none or only one notch of systemic support. The short-term ratings affirmed affect primarily those institutions with debt ratings in the Aa or high single A category.

As the banks' senior subordinated ratings are also impacted by a change on the senior debt ratings and current support assumptions, Moody's has also placed these ratings on review for possible downgrade, together with the short-term debt and deposit ratings of 20 banks.

GOVERNMENT GUARANTEED DEBT

Moody's has placed the backed-Aa1 rated senior debt of 20 institutions on review for possible downgrade. This action follows the placing of the Aa1 Spanish government bond rating on review for possible downgrade announced on 15 December 2010. The backed-Aa1 ratings assigned are based on the unconditional guarantee from the Spanish government (See "Moody's to assign backed Aaa ratings to new euro-denominated long-term debt securities covered by Spanish government's guarantee," published on 22 January 2009).

RATINGS OF INSTITUTO DE CREDITO OFICIAL

Moody's has also placed on review for possible downgrade all rated debt of Instituto de Credito Oficial. Since ICO's liabilities are explicitly, irrevocably, directly and unconditionally guaranteed by the Kingdom of Spain, the rating review of ICO is triggered by the review process initiated at the sovereign rating level.

REVIEW WITH DIRECTION UNCERTAIN

The review with direction uncertain of the Baa3/P-3 ratings for Caja Avila and Caja Segovia will explore whether these institutions can maintain investment-grade characteristics. One factor we will be reviewing is whether the impact of a potentially lower-rated support provider could be offset by benefits derived from the consolidation process in which both entities are currently involved. On 14 September 2010, Caja Avila's and Caja Segovia's assemblies approved their integration with other five savings banks into an Institutional Protection Scheme (IPS or SIP, as per its Spanish initials), and we expect to be able to assess the potential effects of this agreement once the integration is complete.

CHANGE IN OUTLOOK ON THE BFSRs OF CAJA ESPAÑA AND CAJASTUR

The outlooks on the D+ standalone BFSRs of both Caja España and Cajastur have been changed to negative from stable, reflecting the negative pressures on these banks' standalone creditworthiness stemming from their vulnerability to further possible deterioration of the operating environment.

Moody's notes that these outlooks are now aligned with the existing rating outlook for the Spanish banking system and in line with the outlook for the other rated banks in Spain.

The following ratings have been affected by the placing on review for possible downgrade of the Spanish government:

http://v3.moodys.com/viewresearchdoc.aspx?docid=PBC_129629

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

Madrid
Maria Cabanyes
Senior Vice President
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Espana, S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's Investors Service Espana, S.A.
Barbara de Braganza, 2
Madrid 28004
Spain
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's takes actions on rated Spanish banks further to sovereign rating review
No Related Data.
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