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Rating Action:

Moody's takes rating actions on 13 Indian commercial banks

21 Oct 2009

Rating actions triggered by recent adjustment of systemic support indicator

Limassol, October 21, 2009 -- Moody's Investors Service has today downgraded the supported ratings of 13 Indian commercial banks following its global review of systemic support indicators for individual banking systems. (See below for a full list of the affected ratings.)

GOVERNMENT ABILITY-TO-SUPPORT INPUT CHANGED TO Baa2

Earlier this year, Moody's published a Special Comment on its review of the capacity of governments and central banks to support their banking systems entitled: "Financial Crisis More Closely Aligns Bank Credit Risk and Government Ratings in Non-Aaa Countries," available on moodys.com.

Consistent with the analytical criteria specified in the Special Comment and given India's current situation and future prospects, Moody's has changed the systemic support input for Indian banks' ratings to Baa2 from the A1 local currency deposit ceiling. The new Baa2 systemic support anchor for Indian banks is placed three notches above the Ba2 local currency government debt rating. As a result of this, multiple supported ratings of Indian banks have been downgraded, affecting each bank differently.

In Moody's view, India has a highly supportive banking framework, demonstrated by the government's support of commercial banks over the past few years via either capital injections or the merger of troubled banks with stronger entities. This supportive attitude has also been demonstrated recently by the Reserve Bank of India's (RBI) provision of a currency (FC) swap window in the event of banks needing FC funds to repay their obligations.

In the Special Comment, Moody's noted that the appropriate reference rating for the capacity of a national government to provide support to banks in a prolonged and widespread crisis would be aligned with or constrained by the government's own debt rating. However, Moody's explained that it might deem it appropriate to adjust this rating, usually positively, to reflect the non-fiscally dependent measures that many central banks and governments can deploy to support banks.

In deciding whether the local currency-denominated deposits of a bank can be rated higher than the local currency-denominated debt issued by the national government due to systemic support, Moody's considers a number of factors for each banking system. These are: the size of the banking sector relative to the government's resources; the level of stress in the banking system and in the economy; the FC obligations of the banking system relative to the government's own FC resources; political and historical patterns; and the possibility of any drastic shift in government priorities.

Moody's regards the systemic importance of the Indian banking system as moderate in terms of the ratio of banking assets to GDP of around 90%, with a weighted average bank financial strength rating (BFSR) of D+ for the rated Indian commercial banks. The level of stress in the Indian banking system has increased in the global recession, as reflected by Moody's decision to change the credit outlook for the system to negative from stable in January 2009, with the proportion of non-performing loans growing steeply, reversing the downward trend seen since 2000.

However, Moody's notes that the impact of the downturn on the Indian economy has not been as significant as that on other export-oriented emerging markets and there is still relatively high internal demand for goods and services. Moreover, the banking system's FC obligations -- relative to the overall economy -- are low and the banks have performed satisfactorily in terms of financial fundamentals, with the most recent quarterly results to the end of June and September 2009 indicating no immediate threats to solvency.

The political and historical evidence in favour of assessing India as a highly supportive banking framework is compelling. Over the past few years, even small private sector banks have been bailed out, usually via a merger with stronger public sector banks (PSBs), while there have also been several capital injections into systemically important PSBs. In Moody's opinion, the attitude of the Indian government to supporting its banks has not changed and is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. In fact, the government is planning to shortly infuse fresh equity into certain PSBs that need to enhance their capital base.

The Baa2 systemic support input for Indian banks is three notches above the Ba2 local currency government debt rating. The uplift reflects Moody's view that the risk of a system-wide banking crisis is low and that the likelihood of the government "ring-fencing" its own fiscal position from the banking system is also low. In addition, the RBI's large FC reserves (of around US$270 billion) and the country's low stock of foreign debt including the private sector's external obligations provide added comfort as regards India's ability to provide systemic support to its banking system.

BFSRs RESILIENT UNDER STRESS TESTING

In addition, as part of its exercise to recalibrate Indian bank ratings, in line with the approach described in the Special Comment "Calibrating Bank Ratings in the Context of the Global Financial Crisis" published in February 2009, Moody's has also re-examined the assigned BFSRs. Its analysis entailed simulating the evolution of each bank's capital ratios under both an expected (base) case and worse-than-expected (stressed) case scenario of asset quality deterioration. The outcome of this exercise suggests that the BFSRs currently assigned to Indian banks are appropriately positioned in their respective categories and that there is no immediate impact from Moody's stress-testing analysis.

HYBRIDS MAY BE FURTHER DOWNGRADED WITH NEW METHODOLOGY

Moody's also noted that the ratings for the Upper Tier 2 and Hybrid Tier 1 notes of all issuers below were assigned in line with Moody's existing methodology entitled "Guidelines for Rating Bank Junior Securities", dated April 2007. On 16 June 2009, Moody's released a Request for Comment, in which the rating agency requested market feedback on potential changes to its rating methodology for bank subordinated capital. If the revised methodology is implemented as proposed, the ratings on the issuers' Upper Tier 2 and Hybrid Tier 1 notes may be negatively affected. Please refer to Moody's Request for Comment, titled "Moody's Proposed Changes to Bank Subordinated Capital Ratings," for further details regarding the implications of the proposed methodology changes on Moody's ratings.

THE FOLLOWING RATING ACTIONS WERE TAKEN:

(i) State Bank of India's A1/P-1 global local currency (GLC) deposit ratings were downgraded to Baa2/P-2. The FC subordinated (Lower Tier 2) and junior subordinated (Upper Tier 2) of Baa2 under its MTN programme were downgraded to Baa3, while its perpetual hybrid Tier 1 rating of Baa2 under its MTN programme was also downgraded to Ba1. All ratings have a stable outlook.

All the other ratings, including the C- BFSR (mapping to a Baa2 baseline credit assessment -- BCA), Ba2/NP FC deposit ratings (constrained by the FC deposit sovereign ceiling) and Baa2 FC senior unsecured debt rating under its MTN programme, remain unchanged with a stable outlook.

(ii) ICICI Bank's A2/P-1 GLC deposit ratings were downgraded to Baa2/P-2. The FC subordinated (Lower Tier 2) and junior subordinated (Upper Tier 2) of Baa2 under its MTN programme were downgraded to Baa3, while its perpetual hybrid Tier 1 rating of Baa2 under its MTN programme was also downgraded to Ba1. All ratings have a stable outlook.

All the other ratings, including the C- BFSR (mapping to a Baa2 BCA), Ba2/NP FC deposit ratings (constrained by the FC deposit sovereign ceiling) and Baa2 FC senior unsecured debt rating under its MTN programme, remain unchanged with a stable outlook.

(iii) Punjab National Bank's A2/P-1 GLC deposit ratings were downgraded to Baa2/P-2. All the other ratings, including the D+ BFSR (mapping to a Baa3 BCA), Ba2/NP FC deposit ratings (constrained by the FC deposit sovereign ceiling) and Baa2 FC debt issuer rating, remain unchanged with a stable outlook.

(iv) Bank of Baroda's A3/P-1 GLC deposit ratings were downgraded to Baa2/P-2. The FC subordinated (Lower Tier 2) and junior subordinated (Upper Tier 2) of Baa2 under its MTN programme were downgraded to Baa3, while its perpetual hybrid Tier 1 rating of Baa3 under its MTN programme was also downgraded to Ba2. All ratings have a stable outlook.

All the other ratings, including the D+ BFSR (mapping to a Ba1 BCA), Ba2/NP FC deposit ratings (constrained by the FC deposit sovereign ceiling) and Baa2 FC senior unsecured debt rating under its MTN programme, remain unchanged with a stable outlook.

(v) Bank of India's A3/P-1 GLC deposit ratings were downgraded to Baa2/P-2. The FC subordinated (Lower Tier 2) and junior subordinated (Upper Tier 2) of Baa2 under its MTN programme were downgraded to Baa3, while its perpetual hybrid Tier 1 rating of Baa3 under its MTN programme was also downgraded to Ba2. All ratings have a stable outlook.

All the other ratings, including the D+ BFSR (mapping to a Ba1 BCA), Ba2/NP FC deposit ratings (constrained by the FC deposit sovereign ceiling) and Baa2 FC senior unsecured debt rating under its MTN programme, remain unchanged with a stable outlook.

(vi) Canara Bank's A2/P-1 GLC deposit ratings were downgraded to Baa2/P-2. The FC subordinated (Lower Tier 2) and junior subordinated (Upper Tier 2) of Baa2 under its MTN programme were downgraded to Baa3, while its perpetual hybrid Tier 1 rating of Baa3 under its MTN programme was also downgraded to Ba2. All ratings have a stable outlook.

All the other ratings, including the D+ BFSR (mapping to a Baa3 BCA), Ba2/NP FC deposit ratings (constrained by the FC deposit sovereign ceiling) and Baa2 FC senior unsecured debt rating under its MTN programme, remain unchanged with a stable outlook.

In addition, Moody's notes that the bank's Baa3 BCA is currently under pressure given the bank's relatively low provisioning coverage and core Tier 1 capital. Stress testing the bank's capitalisation highlights the fact that Canara Bank's Tier 1 equity cushion remains lower than similarly rated banks as indicated in Moody's previous rating action on the bank in January 2009.

(vii) HDFC Bank's A3/P-1 GLC deposit ratings were downgraded to Baa2/P-2. The FC subordinated (Lower Tier 2) and junior subordinated (Upper Tier 2) of Baa2 under its MTN programme were downgraded to Baa3, while its perpetual hybrid Tier 1 rating of Baa2 under its MTN programme was also downgraded to Ba1. All ratings have a stable outlook.

All the other ratings, including the C- BFSR (mapping to a Baa2 BCA), Ba2/NP FC deposit ratings (constrained by the FC deposit sovereign ceiling) and Baa2 FC senior unsecured debt rating under its MTN programme, remain unchanged with a stable outlook.

(viii) IDBI Bank's GLC Baa2/P-2 deposit ratings were downgraded to Baa3/P-3. The Baa2 FC senior debt rating was also downgraded to Baa3.

All the other ratings, including the D- BFSR (mapping to a Ba3 BCA) and Ba2/NP FC deposit ratings (constrained by the FC deposit sovereign ceiling), remain unchanged with a stable outlook.

(ix) Union Bank of India's A3/P-1 GLC deposit ratings were downgraded to Baa2/P-2. The FC subordinated (Lower Tier 2) and junior subordinated (Upper Tier 2) of Baa2 under its MTN programme were downgraded to Baa3, while its perpetual hybrid Tier 1 rating of Baa3 under its MTN programme was also downgraded to Ba2. All ratings have a stable outlook.

All the other ratings, including the D+ BFSR (mapping to a Ba1 BCA), Ba2/NP FC deposit ratings (constrained by the FC deposit sovereign ceiling) and Baa2 FC senior unsecured debt rating under its MTN programme, remain unchanged with a stable outlook.

(x) Axis Bank's A3/P-1 GLC deposit ratings were downgraded to Baa2/P-2. The FC subordinated (Lower Tier 2) and junior subordinated (Upper Tier 2) of Baa2 under its MTN programme were downgraded to Baa3, while its perpetual hybrid Tier 1 rating of Baa2 under its MTN programme was also downgraded to Ba1. All ratings have a stable outlook.

All the other ratings, including the C- BFSR (mapping to a Baa2 BCA), Ba2/NP FC deposit ratings (constrained by the FC deposit sovereign ceiling) and Baa2 FC senior unsecured debt rating under its MTN programme, remain unchanged with a stable outlook.

(xi) Central Bank of India's Baa2/P-2 GLC deposit ratings were downgraded to Baa3/P-3. All the other ratings, including the D- BFSR (mapping to a Ba3 BCA) and Ba2/NP FC deposit ratings (constrained by the FC deposit sovereign ceiling), remain unchanged with a stable outlook.

(xii) Syndicate Bank's A3/P-1 GLC deposit ratings were downgraded to Baa2/P-2 with a negative outlook. All the other ratings, including the D+ BFSR (mapping to a Ba1 BCA) and Ba2/NP FC deposit ratings (constrained by the FC deposit sovereign ceiling), remain unchanged with a stable outlook, except for the BFSR, which continues to carry a negative outlook in line with the GLC deposit ratings of the bank.

(xiii) Oriental Bank of Commerce's GLC A3/P-1 deposit ratings downgraded to Baa2/P-2 with a negative outlook. All the other ratings, including the D+ BFSR (mapping to a Ba1 BCA) and Ba2/NP FC deposit ratings (constrained by the FC deposit sovereign ceiling), remain unchanged with a stable outlook, except for the BFSR, which continues to carry a negative outlook in line with the GLC deposit ratings of the bank.

PREVIOUS RATING ACTIONS & PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGIES

The last rating action for all rated Indian banks above was taken on 28 May 2009 when the ratings were placed on review for possible downgrade. Today's rating actions conclude these reviews.

The principal methodologies used in rating these issuers were "Bank Financial Strength Ratings: Global Methodology," and "Incorporation of Joint-Default Analysis into Moody's Bank Ratings: A Refined Methodology." These can be found at www.moodys.com in the Rating Methodologies sub-directory under the Research & Ratings tab. Other methodologies and factors that may have been considered in the process of rating these issuers can also be found in the Rating Methodologies sub-directory on Moody's website.

State Bank of India, headquartered in Mumbai, had total assets of INR9,644 billion (US$184.8 billion) as of end-March 2009.

ICICI Bank Ltd, headquartered in Mumbai, had total assets of INR3,793 billion (US$72.7 billion) as of end-March 2009.

Punjab National Bank, headquartered in New Delhi, had total assets of INR2,469 billion (US$47.3 billion) as of end-March 2009.

Bank of Baroda, headquartered in Mumbai, had total assets of INR2,274 billion (US$43.6 billion) as of end-March 2009.

Bank of India, headquartered in Mumbai, had total assets of INR2,255 billion (US$43.2 billion) as of end-March 2009.

Canara Bank, headquartered in Bangalore, had total assets of INR2,175 billion (US$41.7 billion) as of end-March 2009.

HDFC Bank Ltd, headquartered in Mumbai, had total assets of INR1,833 billion (US$35.1 billion) as of end-March 2009.

IDBI Bank Ltd, headquartered in Mumbai, had total assets of INR1,724 billion (US$33 billion) as of end-March 2009.

Union Bank of India, headquartered in Mumbai, had total assets of INR1,610 billion (US$30.9 billion) as of end-March 2009.

Axis Bank Ltd, headquartered in Mumbai, had total assets of INR1,477 billion (US$28.3 billion) as of end-March 2009.

Central Bank of India, headquartered in Mumbai, had total assets of INR1,338 billion (US$27.2 billion) as of end-December 2008.

Syndicate Bank, headquartered in Bangalore, had total assets of INR1,303 billion (US$25 billion) as of end-March 2009.

Oriental Bank of Commerce, headquartered in New Delhi, had total assets of INR1,126 billion (US$21.6 billion) as of end-March 2009.

Limassol
Mardig Haladjian
General Manager
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Cyprus Limited
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Limassol
Nondas Nicolaides
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Cyprus Limited
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's takes rating actions on 13 Indian commercial banks
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