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Rating Action:

Moody's takes rating actions on Greek banks

27 Feb 2018

The rating actions reflect banks' improved liability structure and Greece's deposit ceiling upgrade to B3 from Caa2

Limassol, February 27, 2018 -- Moody's Investors Service (Moody's) has today upgraded the long-term deposit ratings of Piraeus Bank S.A. and National Bank of Greece S.A. to Caa2 from Caa3, and affirmed Alpha Bank AE, Eurobank Ergasias S.A. and Attica Bank S.A. long-term deposit ratings at Caa3.

The rating agency has also upgraded the long-term counterparty risk assessments (CRA) of Piraeus Bank S.A. and National Bank of Greece S.A. to B3(cr) from Caa2(cr), upgraded the CRA of Alpha Bank AE and Attica Bank S.A. to Caa1(cr) from Caa2(cr), and affirmed Eurobank Ergasias S.A. CRA at Caa2(cr). The government-guaranteed senior MTN program ratings of National Bank of Greece S.A., Alpha Bank AE and Eurobank Ergasias S.A. were also upgraded to (P)B3 from (P)Caa2, in line with Moody's recent rating action on Greece.

Concurrently, Moody's affirmed the baseline credit assessment (BCA) of Piraeus Bank S.A., National Bank of Greece S.A., Alpha Bank AE and Eurobank Ergasias S.A. at caa2 and that of Attica Bank S.A. at caa3.

The outlook on the deposit ratings of National Bank of Greece S.A. and of Alpha Bank AE was maintained at positive, while the outlook on the deposits ratings of Piraeus Bank S.A., Eurobank Ergasias S.A. and Attica Bank S.A. was maintained at stable.

The deposit ratings and CRA upgrades are primarily driven by banks' expansion of their pool of unsecured liabilities available to absorb losses in a potential bank resolution scenario. Accordingly, the rating agency's 'Loss Given Failure' (LGF) analysis of banks' liability structure has led to the rating upgrades, reflecting the potentially lower losses that unsecured senior creditors could face.

The upgrades were also driven by Moody's raising of Greece's bank deposit ceiling to B3 from Caa2, following the rating agency's upgrade of the country's issuer rating to B3 (positive) from Caa2 (positive) on 21 February. Nonetheless, the banks' deposit ratings remain positioned within the Caa rating range, reflecting the on-going deposit controls in Greece, and the fact that depositors do not have instant access to the full amount of their deposits, but also the still significant asset quality and funding challenges that Greek banks face.

Moody's said that its Greek banks ratings balance the improvements in their credit profiles in 2016-17 and the prospects of further stabilisation in 2018-19, against the still significant downside risks stemming from the very high level of nonperforming exposures and the still difficult operating environment in Greece.

Moody's has also raised Greece's Macro Profile to 'Weak-' from 'Very Weak+', driven mainly by improvements in the country's institutional strength and reduced susceptibility to event risk in view of the rating agency's belief that Greece will successfully conclude its third support programme and return to self-sufficiency and market-based funding. This was primarily triggered by the positive on-going third review of the country's adjustment programme, the fact that public institutions in Greece have benefited from the technical assistance provided by the official creditors, and also the country's reduced political and refinancing risk.

Greece's macro profile also reflects the difficult credit and funding conditions, with structural challenges faced by all banks. The higher Macro Profile, which is used in Moody's banking scorecards that derive the banks' BCAs, combined with the rating agency's expectation of gradual improvements in banks' financial fundamentals as the economy recovers, will support their standalone credit profiles and ratings going forward.

A full list of affected ratings is provided at the end of this press release.

RATINGS RATIONALE

RATINGS RATIONALE FOR INDIVIDUAL BANKS

--- PIRAEUS BANK S.A.

Piraeus Bank S.A.'s deposit and CRA upgrades to Caa2 and B3(cr) respectively are underpinned by the bank's deleveraging in recent months through the sale of non-core assets, and the resulting increased pool of domestic unsecured liabilities relative to the bank's tangible banking assets. This positioning has lowered the potential losses to be absorbed by senior creditors in a possible resolution scenario, as per the rating agency's LGF analysis. The bank's deposit and CRA upgrades also take into account the improvements in its funding profile through the reduction of its emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) that dropped to €7.8 billion in September 2017 from €12.7 billion in September 2016. Accordingly, there was also a proportional increase in deposits that comprised 61% of total assets in September 2017 from 48% the year before.

The bank's BCA affirmation at caa2 considers its common equity Tier 1 (CET1) capital ratio at 17% in September 2017 from 17.1% in September 2016, including the €2 billion CoCos that the bank still retains but will have to repay back to the state-owned Hellenic Financial Stability Fund (HFSF) at some stage. The bank's eligible deferred tax assets (DTAs) of around €4 billion comprised around 59% of its nominal CET1 capital, excluding its CoCos, undermining the quality of its capital position. Moody's does not consider these DTAs as tangible common equity, due to the still weak creditworthiness of the sovereign.

Moody's considers Piraeus Bank S.A.'s asset quality position to be among the weakest in the system and globally due to its numerous take-overs of smaller problematic banks in the last few years, which resulted in an NPL and NPE ratio of around 36% and 55%, respectively, as of September 2017. In addition, the bank's NPL and NPE provisioning coverage was at 70% and 46%, respectively. However, the rating agency expects the bank's asset quality to gradually improve in view of its focus and active management of its NPLs, and the additional tools provided to the banks for managing their NPLs through recent legislative measures. The bank reported a net loss of around €19 million during the first nine-months of 2017, although Moody's positively views the bank's ability to increase its pre-provision income by 16% year-on-year.

--- NATIONAL BANK OF GREECE S.A.

National Bank of Greece S.A.'s (NBG) deposit and CRA upgrades to Caa2 and B3(cr) respectively are also driven by the sale of non-core assets in recent months, and the resulting increased pool of domestic unsecured liabilities relative to the bank's tangible banking assets. This was also achieved through the drastic reduction of its emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) that decreased to €2.3 billion in September 2017 from €5.2 billion in September 2016, and was subsequently fully repaid in December 2017. The bank's group deposits comprised 59% of total assets in September 2017, from 47% in September 2016, having the lowest loans-to-deposits ratio among its local peers at 83% in September 2017 underpinned by its strong deposit savings franchise in Greece.

The bank's BCA was affirmed at caa2 and takes into consideration the quality of its capital base, with a reported CET1 ratio of 16.8% in September 2017 from 16.4% in September 2016. However, this healthy regulatory capital ratio is undermined by the bank's high eligible DTAs (€4.7 billion), which comprised around 72% of its nominal CET1 capital as of September 2017. NBG has been in a position to gradually enhance its tangible CET1 capital through the sale of non-core assets, enhancing somewhat its overall credit profile.

The bank's caa2 BCA also reflects the lowest NPL and NPE ratios among its local peers at 34% and 45%, respectively, as of September 2017, while the NPL and NPE provisioning coverage was 74% and 56%, the highest within its local peer group. The rating agency believes that recoveries from the NPL portfolio could further enhance the bank's core pre-provision income, which increased by 9% year-on-year in the first nine-months of 2017, combined with further reduction in its operating expenses.

The positive deposit rating outlook reflects the recent improvements in the bank's underlying financial fundamentals, and the prospects for further enhancements particularly in asset quality despite the still significant challenges from the high stock of problem loans. The positive outlook for NBG is also driven by the strongest funding an liquidity position that the bank retains domestically, which combined with tangible progress in the asset quality and profitability could eventually benefit its BCA.

--- ALPHA BANK AE

Alpha Bank AE's BCA affirmation at caa2 balances its relatively stronger tangible capital position, and as a result a higher loss absorption cushion compared to its local peers, but also the downside risks stemming from its highest level of NPEs at 54% in September 2017. The bank has a high reported common equity Tier 1 (CET1) ratio of 17.8%, while its tangible common equity (TCE) ratio as adjusted by the rating agency to deduct any eligible DTAs was 9.4% in September 2017. Moody's notes that Alpha Bank has the lowest level of deferred tax assets (DTAs) on its balance sheet at around €3.3 billion in September 2017, which comprised around 37% of its nominal CET1 capital. This level positions the bank at the stronger end in terms of loss-absorbing tangible capital available, among its local systemic peers.

Concurrently, the bank faces a significant challenge in tackling its problem loans with its nonperforming loans (NPL) and nonperforming exposures (NPE) ratio at a high 37% and 54% respectively as of September 2017. NPL and NPE provisioning coverage was around 68% and 48%, respectively. Moody's believes that the relatively high NPL provisioning coverage provides the bank with more flexibility to actively manage its NPL portfolio. The bank's improving funding profile is also a factor driving its BCA, with ELA as of September 2017 at €8.4 billion (down from €13.2 billion in December 2016), comprising 13.7% of its total assets, although Moody's expects this type of funding to reduce further in 2018. The bank's BCA also considers its improving profitability prospects with a net profit of around €85 million for the first nine-months of 2017.

The bank's long-term deposit rating was affirmed at Caa3, which is positioned one notch lower than its BCA due to the bank's relatively small pool of domestic unsecured obligations and minimal subordinated liabilities available to absorb potential losses in case of a bank resolution scenario. Accordingly, senior creditors remain vulnerable to bail-in risks within the context of the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) transposition law that was passed in Greece in 2015. The long-term deposit rating of Caa3 also takes into consideration the on-going capital controls in place as well as the implied losses faced by depositors that do not have instant access to the full amount of their funds.

The positive outlook for the bank's deposit ratings, is mainly driven by the its stronger tangible capital position and the expectation of further improvements in the bank's underlying financial fundamentals. A sustainable reduction of its high level of NPEs, which still pose significant downside risks to the bank's credit profile, could eventually translate into a higher BCA.

--- EUROBANK ERGASIAS S.A.

Eurobank Ergasias S.A.'s (Eurobank) BCA affirmation of caa2 takes into account its reported CET1 ratio of 15.1% in September 2017, down from 17.4% in September 2016, following the redemption of its state preference shares of €994 million through €970 million Tier 2 subordinated bonds subscribed by the government and a cash payment for the balance. Moody's considers the bank to have a lower quality of capital than its peers, in view of its proportionally higher level of eligible DTAs (€4 billion). The rating agency estimates that around 70% of the bank's nominal CET1 capital is in the form of eligible DTAs, leaving minimal loss-absorbing tangible common equity available.

The bank's profit in the first nine months of 2017 amounted to around €61 million, while its NPL and NPE ratio were at around 35% and 45%, respectively, as of September 2017. Eurobank's NPL and NPE provisioning coverage was around 66% and 52%, respectively. The bank's ELA as of September 2017 was €9 billion, comprising around 15% of its total assets, although Moody's notes that the bank was able to reduce this ELA dependence significantly from €22.9 billion in June 2015.

The affirmation of the bank's Caa3 deposit rating, which is positioned one notch lower than its caa2 BCA, takes into consideration the rating agency's LGF analysis and the bank's relatively small pool of unsecured obligations on its balance sheet, making senior creditors more vulnerable to a bail-in than is the case for its large local peers. The stable outlook balances the potential for further improvements in the bank's earnings and funding profile, but also its high NPEs and lower quality of capital, which in turn constrain the bank's BCA.

--- ATTICA BANK S.A.

The affirmation of Attica Bank S.A.'s BCA at caa3 takes into consideration its CET1 ratio of 15% in September 2017, but also the fact that its transitional fully-loaded CET1 ratio reduces to 11.8% primarily due to €100.2 million of state preference shares that the bank still retains and will no longer qualify as CET1 capital from 1 January 2018. The BCA of caa3, the lowest among Greek banks, also reflects the bank's weak earnings profile with normalized operating income (excluding one-off gains) reducing by around 14% year-on-year during the first nine months in 2017.

The bank, which is the smallest among all rated Greek banks with a market share of only around 2%, reported an NPE ratio of 43.2% in September 2017, down from 58.9% in September 2016, following a structured deal with a foreign investor that allowed the bank to shift around €1.3 billion of NPEs off its balance sheet. The bank's ELA dependence was around €960 million as of September 2017, comprising around 27% of its total assets, which proportionally is the highest among local banks.

The stable outlook on the bank's deposit rating of Caa3, which is in line with its BCA of caa3, reflects the rating agency's expectation that the on-going restructuring at the bank by the new top management is likely to take some time before it starts yielding results and that Attica Bank's performance is likely to still lag behind its peers. The upgrade of its CRA to Caa1(cr) from Caa2(cr) is purely driven by the lower tangible banking assets of the bank following the NPE structured deal above, and the proportionally higher level of protection provided to senior counterparties in a potential resolution scenario based on the rating agency's LGF assessment.

WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

Over time, upward deposit and senior debt rating pressure could arise following further improvements of the country's macro-economic environment, combined with better asset quality, profitability and funding. The return of more deposits back to the banking system would also increase the pool of unsecured obligations available to banks, which could trigger a deposit and senior debt rating upgrade driven by the rating agency's LGF approach.

Greek banks' deposit and senior debt ratings could be downgraded in the event of political turmoil in the country for an extended period of time that substantially affects domestic consumption and economic activity, which have gradually been recovering from a very low base.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

Issuer: Alpha Bank AE

Upgrades:

....BACKED (Government Guaranteed) Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Upgraded to (P)B3 from (P)Caa2

....LT Counterparty Risk Assessment, Upgraded to Caa1(cr) from Caa2(cr)

Affirmations:

....LT Bank Deposits, Affirmed Caa3 Positive

....ST Bank Deposits, Affirmed NP

....Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Caa3

....Subordinate MTN Program,Affirmed (P)Caa3

....Other Short Term Program, Affirmed (P)NP

....Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed caa2

....Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed caa2

....ST Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed NP(cr)

Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Remains Positive

Issuer: Alpha Credit Group plc

Affirmations:

....BACKED Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Caa3 Positive

....BACKED Subordinate, Affirmed Caa3

....BACKED Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Caa3

....BACKED Subordinate MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Caa3

....BACKED Other Short Term Program, Affirmed (P)NP

....BACKED Commercial Paper, Affirmed NP

Issuer: Alpha Group Jersey Limited

Affirmations:

....BACKED Pref. Stock Non-cumulative, Affirmed C(hyb)

....BACKED Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Caa3

....BACKED Subordinate MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Caa3

Issuer: Emporiki Group Finance Plc

Affirmations:

....BACKED Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Caa3 Positive

Issuer: Attica Bank S.A.

Upgrades:

....LT Counterparty Risk Assessment, Upgraded to Caa1(cr) from Caa2(cr)

Affirmations:

....LT Bank Deposits, Affirmed Caa3 Stable

....ST Bank Deposits, Affirmed NP

....Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed caa3

....Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed caa3

....ST Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed NP(cr)

Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Remains Stable

Issuer: Eurobank Ergasias S.A.

Upgrades:

....BACKED (Government Guaranteed) Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Upgraded to (P)B3 from (P)Caa2

Affirmations:

....LT Bank Deposits, Affirmed Caa3 Stable

....ST Bank Deposits, Affirmed NP

....Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Caa3

....Subordinate MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Caa3

....Other Short Term MTN Program, Affirmed (P)NP

....BACKED Other Short Term Program, Affirmed (P)NP

....Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed caa2

....Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed caa2

....LT Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed Caa2(cr)

....ST Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed NP(cr)

Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Remains Stable

Issuer: ERB Hellas (Cayman Islands) Limited

Affirmations:

....BACKED Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Caa3

....BACKED Subordinate MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Caa3

....BACKED Other Short Term Program, Affirmed (P)NP

Issuer: ERB Hellas Funding Limited

Affirmations:

....BACKED Pref. Stock Non-cumulative, Affirmed C(hyb)

Issuer: ERB Hellas PLC

Affirmations:

....BACKED Senior Unsecured Regular Bond/Debenture, Affirmed Caa3 Stable

....BACKED Subordinate, Affirmed Caa3

....BACKED Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Caa3

....BACKED Subordinate MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Caa3

....BACKED Other Short Term Program, Affirmed (P)NP

....BACKED Commercial Paper, Affirmed NP

Issuer: National Bank of Greece S.A.

Upgrades:

....LT Bank Deposits, Upgraded to Caa2 from Caa3, Outlook remains Positive

....BACKED (Government Guaranteed) Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Upgraded to (P)B3 from (P)Caa2

....LT Counterparty Risk Assessment, Upgraded to B3(cr) from Caa2(cr)

Affirmations:

....ST Bank Deposits, Affirmed NP

....BACKED Other Short Term Program, Affirmed (P)NP

....Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed caa2

....Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed caa2

....ST Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed NP(cr)

Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Remains Positive

Issuer: NBG Finance plc

Upgrades:

....BACKED Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Upgraded to (P)Caa2 from (P)Caa3

Affirmations:

....BACKED Subordinate MTN, Affirmed (P)Caa3

Issuer: Piraeus Bank S.A.

Upgrades:

....LT Bank Deposits, Upgraded to Caa2 from Caa3, Outlook remains Stable

....Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Upgraded to (P)Caa2 from (P)Caa3

....LT Counterparty Risk Assessment, Upgraded to B3(cr) from Caa2(cr)

Affirmations:

....ST Bank Deposits, Affirmed NP

....Subordinate MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Caa3

....Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed caa2

....Baseline Credit Assessment, Affirmed caa2

....ST Counterparty Risk Assessment, Affirmed NP(cr)

Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Remains Stable

Issuer: Piraeus Group Finance Plc

Upgrades:

....BACKED Senior Unsecured MTN Program, Upgraded to (P)Caa2 from (P)Caa3

Affirmations:

....BACKED Subordinate MTN Program, Affirmed (P)Caa3

....BACKED Other Short Term Program, Affirmed (P)NP

....BACKED Commercial Paper, Affirmed NP

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Banks published in September 2017. 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.

Nondas Nicolaides
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Cyprus Ltd.
Porto Bello Building
1, Siafi Street, 3042 Limassol
PO Box 53205
Limassol CY 3301
Cyprus
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Sean Marion
MD - Financial Institutions
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Cyprus Ltd.
Porto Bello Building
1, Siafi Street, 3042 Limassol
PO Box 53205
Limassol CY 3301
Cyprus
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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Moody's Investors Service, Inc., a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of Moody's Corporation ("MCO"), hereby discloses that most issuers of debt securities (including corporate and municipal bonds, debentures, notes and commercial paper) and preferred stock rated by Moody's Investors Service, Inc. have, prior to assignment of any credit rating, agreed to pay to Moody's Investors Service, Inc. for credit ratings opinions and services rendered by it fees ranging from $1,000 to approximately $2,700,000. MCO and Moody's investors Service also maintain policies and procedures to address the independence of Moody's Investors Service credit ratings and credit rating processes. Information regarding certain affiliations that may exist between directors of MCO and rated entities, and between entities who hold credit ratings from Moody's Investors Service and have also publicly reported to the SEC an ownership interest in MCO of more than 5%, is posted annually at www.moodys.com under the heading "Investor Relations — Corporate Governance — Director and Shareholder Affiliation Policy."

Additional terms for Australia only: Any publication into Australia of this document is pursuant to the Australian Financial Services License of MOODY'S affiliate, Moody's Investors Service Pty Limited ABN 61 003 399 657AFSL 336969 and/or Moody's Analytics Australia Pty Ltd ABN 94 105 136 972 AFSL 383569 (as applicable). This document is intended to be provided only to "wholesale clients" within the meaning of section 761G of the Corporations Act 2001. By continuing to access this document from within Australia, you represent to MOODY'S that you are, or are accessing the document as a representative of, a "wholesale client" and that neither you nor the entity you represent will directly or indirectly disseminate this document or its contents to "retail clients" within the meaning of section 761G of the Corporations Act 2001. MOODY'S credit rating is an opinion as to the creditworthiness of a debt obligation of the issuer, not on the equity securities of the issuer or any form of security that is available to retail investors.

Additional terms for Japan only: Moody's Japan K.K. ("MJKK") is a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of Moody's Group Japan G.K., which is wholly-owned by Moody's Overseas Holdings Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of MCO. Moody's SF Japan K.K. ("MSFJ") is a wholly-owned credit rating agency subsidiary of MJKK. MSFJ is not a Nationally Recognized Statistical Rating Organization ("NRSRO"). Therefore, credit ratings assigned by MSFJ are Non-NRSRO Credit Ratings. Non-NRSRO Credit Ratings are assigned by an entity that is not a NRSRO and, consequently, the rated obligation will not qualify for certain types of treatment under U.S. laws. MJKK and MSFJ are credit rating agencies registered with the Japan Financial Services Agency and their registration numbers are FSA Commissioner (Ratings) No. 2 and 3 respectively.

MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) hereby disclose that most issuers of debt securities (including corporate and municipal bonds, debentures, notes and commercial paper) and preferred stock rated by MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) have, prior to assignment of any credit rating, agreed to pay to MJKK or MSFJ (as applicable) for credit ratings opinions and services rendered by it fees ranging from JPY125,000 to approximately JPY250,000,000.

MJKK and MSFJ also maintain policies and procedures to address Japanese regulatory requirements.

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