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Rating Action:

Moody's upgrades Deutsche Pfandbriefbank's sub debt to B3, affirms senior debt at Baa2

26 Aug 2014

Standalone credit assessment raised to b2 from b3, outlook on deposit ratings remains negative

Frankfurt am Main, August 26, 2014 -- Moody's Investors Service has today upgraded the rating for senior subordinated debt of Deutsche Pfandbriefbank AG (pbb) to B3 from Caa1, and affirmed the long- and short-term debt and deposit ratings at Baa2/Prime-2. The rating actions were prompted by the raising of pbb's standalone baseline credit assessment (BCA) to b2 from b3, within the E+ standalone bank financial strength ratings (BFSR) category. At the same time, Moody's affirmed the E+ BFSR and changed the outlook to stable from negative. The outlook on the B3 senior subordinated debt rating has been changed to stable from negative, whilst the outlook on the Baa2 senior debt and deposit ratings remains negative.

The raising of pbb's standalone credit assessment was driven by the gradual progress in pbb's efforts to improve recurring profitability and write new business, which has positive implications for its commercial banking franchise.

The senior unsecured debt and deposit ratings now benefit from six notches of systemic support uplift, versus seven notches previously. The small reduction in the support Moody's factors into these ratings takes into account (1) the prospects for a weakening of government support, due to the targeted change of ownership for pbb in 2015; as well as (2) the limitations to future support post introduction of a more restrictive bank resolution regime in Germany. However, Moody's expects that the demonstrated high (implicit) commitment of the German government, as the sole owner of pbb, will continue until the time of its privatisation. That said, Moody's does not rule out the potential for support from a future owner replacing (some of) the current support assumptions.

RATINGS RATIONALE

STANDALONE PROFILE BENEFITS FROM GRADUAL EARNINGS RECOVERY

Moody's today raised the BCA to b2 and changed the outlook to stable on the E+ BFSR to reflect the gradual improvement of pbb's intrinsic earnings power. This improvement is illustrated by rising recurring revenues and reduced costs, as per unaudited/reviewed accounts of pbb for the six months to June 2014. The cancellation of low-return servicing contracts with third parties in late 2013 helped pbb to cut costs by 20% year on year during the period, allowing for somewhat higher profits and more transparency of the bank's intrinsic earnings power. In addition, the mildly positive outlook on earnings due to further cost reductions in 2015 and growing net interest income is positive for pbb's still-weak commercial franchise.

At the same time, the rating agency highlighted that pbb's earnings recovery remains fragile, which is partly due to unsustainably low risk charges and further expenses relating to franchise adjustments and regulatory requirements over the next few quarters. In addition, the standalone credit assessment remains constrained by the bank's modest economic capitalisation and uncertainties stemming from the targeted privatisation in 2015. Moody's reiterates that some of pbb's stronger financial metrics, including funding and liquidity, represent imperfect mitigants to the uncertainties posed by the targeted privatisation, as the 2015 deadline implies considerable risk for bondholders.

UPGRADE OF SUBORDINATED DEBT MIRRORS RAISING OF STANDALONE CREDIT ASSESSMENT

The upgrade of the rating for senior subordinated debt instruments to B3 from Caa1 follows the raising of pbb's standalone BCA to b2 from b3. The B3 senior subordinated debt rating is one notch below pbb's b2 standalone BCA and carries a stable outlook, which mirrors the stable outlook of the E+ BFSR.

SMALL REVISION OF SUPPORT IN DEBT RATINGS REFLECTS WEAKENING SUPPORT PROSPECTS

The affirmation of pbb's Baa2/Prime-2 senior unsecured debt and deposit ratings reflects the higher BCA and a small downward revision of Moody's assumptions for systemic support as the 2015 deadline for pbb's privatisation is drawing closer. This reduced support assumption reflects Moody's view that, post privatisation, support is unlikely to yield rating uplift of more than six notches, even if the acquirer displays a strong financial profile and commitment to supporting pbb.

As reflected by the six notches of uplift, Moody's currently continues to factor in a very high probability of support from the German government (Aaa stable) into pbb's Baa2/Prime-2 long- and short-term debt and deposit ratings. This support assumption takes into account (1) the bank's full ownership by the German government; and (2) the bank's high systemic relevance as the second-largest covered bond issuer in Germany.

NEGATIVE OUTLOOK ON SENIOR DEBT RATINGS REFLECTS PRESSURE FROM WEAKENING SUPPORT

The approaching deadline for pbb's privatisation in 2015 involves some uncertainty for bondholders, given that non-compliance with the European Commission's conditionality may have considerable consequences for pbb's future in its current set-up. Such uncertainty, combined with the expected restrictions on future government support under the Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive (BRRD) that policymakers are set to introduce in 2016 (or, in the case of Germany, as soon as 2015), implies continued pressures on debt ratings that benefit from high systemic support assumptions and respective rating uplift.

Moody's added that the acquisition of pbb by a strong strategic investor with both the necessary financial strength and clear intention to support the bank could indicate some probability of parental support. Whilst a successful sale of pbb remains uncertain, such support may offset some of the pressure on the supported Baa2 ratings stemming from the weakening environment for government support. The rating agency does not rule out maintaining its assumptions of some systemic support even after pbb's privatisation, especially if the government maintains a stake in (or otherwise exposure to) the bank.

WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATINGS - UP/DOWN

Upwards pressure on the E+ BFSR is limited, as the recovery of pbb's earnings power and franchise remains fragile at this stage. However, further progress in cost reduction and key profitability metrics could lead to an upgrade. Other preconditions for a higher standalone BFSR include (1) further strengthening of pbb's business franchise as a specialised lender for commercial real-estate and public investment finance; (2) higher economic capitalisation and/or demonstration that major portions of existing hybrid capital will remain available to the bank in the long term; and (3) maintained access to senior unsecured funding with long-term maturities.

Upwards pressure on the group's senior debt and deposit ratings is unlikely, and would be subject to a significantly higher standalone BCA or explicit support from the German government (or another entity with a strong credit profile).

Downwards pressure on the standalone E+ BFSR is considered unlikely, but could be triggered if (1) pbb fails to further improve its business franchise, in particular if cost-to-income dynamics worsen; (2) higher-than-anticipated credit losses in pbb's core business areas cause setbacks; and (3) the bank faces renewed capital pressures.

Downwards pressure on the Baa2 ratings could result from any of the following (1) a downgrade of the BFSR; (2) any weakening of the prospects of future support for pbb, which could be due to pbb's acquisition by a weak or less committed owner, or by changing assumptions of future support post implementation of the BRRD.

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Global Banks published in July 2014. 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.

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.

Katharina Barten
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
An der Welle 5
Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Carola Schuler
MD - Banking
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Deutschland GmbH
An der Welle 5
Frankfurt am Main 60322
Germany
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's upgrades Deutsche Pfandbriefbank's sub debt to B3, affirms senior debt at Baa2
No Related Data.
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