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Rating Action:

Moody's upgrades ESB and ESFHC's ratings

16 Nov 2007
Moody's upgrades ESB and ESFHC's ratings

Taipei, November 16, 2007 -- Moody's Investors Service has upgraded E. Sun Commercial Bank Ltd's ("ESB") global local currency deposit and foreign currency deposit ratings to Baa1/Prime-2 from Baa2/Prime-3. Moody's has additionally raised its national scale rating ("NSR") to Aa3.tw/TW-1 from A1.tw/TW-1. Its bank financial strength rating was unaffected by this action and is affirmed at D+.

At the same time, Moody's has upgraded the global issuer rating for its parent, E. Sun Financial Holding Company ("ESFHC") to Baa2/Prime-2 from Baa3/Prime-3. Moody's additionally raised the NSRs on its senior unsecured debt to A1.tw/TW-1 and for its existing subordinated debt to A2.tw.

The outlook for all ratings for ESB and ESFHC is stable.

The ratings action reflects ESB's growing market share and the narrowing difference in systemic importance relative to similar-sized banks. This has in our opinion made it appropriate to characterize the probability that ESB would receive systemic support as high (as opposed to medium), raising its global local deposit currency and other ratings by one notch.

In addition, ESB's BFSR continues to reflect the bank's conservative credit risk management and low market risk appetite, which can be seen in the relative stability of ESB's asset quality and earnings through various shocks including the local card crisis from 2005-06 and the current sub-prime crisis. Relative to other Taiwanese banks of a similar size and background, ESB's credit fundamentals and risk positioning have behaved comparably.

However, Moody's notes that ESB still faces considerable challenges in maintaining its position given the intense competition within its home market, its concentrations in mortgage lending and uncertain prospects given regulatory pressure for further financial sector consolidation.

The rating of ESFHC is one-notch lower than that of ESB, its key subsidiary which accounts for more than 80% of the group's net income. The one notch difference reflects the structural subordination of the parent's legal obligations to the claims on its operating subsidiaries.

Moody's says that its National Scale Ratings are intended for use primarily by domestic investors in those countries where Moody's National Scale Ratings exist - such as Taiwan - and serve to rank debt issuers in a particular country relative to each other.

Specifically, a rating of Aaa.tw on Moody's Taiwan National Scale indicates an issuer or issue with the strongest domestic creditworthiness and the lowest likelihood of credit loss on local currency obligations relative to other local issuers or issues.

Moody's National Scale Ratings are not intended to be globally comparable. Moody's also emphasizes that National Scale Ratings are not opinions on absolute default risks. In this respect they are different to Moody's global scale ratings assigned to Taiwanese institutions - which do not carry the ".tw" suffix.

Full details of the rating action are as follows:

E. Sun Commercial Bank:

Upgrade of its global local currency and foreign currency deposit ratings to Baa1/Prime-2 and national scales rating for long-term local currency deposits to Aa3.tw.

Affirmation of its BFSR of D+ and short-term national scale rating at TW-1.

The outlook on the ratings is maintained as stable.

E. Sun Financial Holding Company:

Upgrade of its global issuer rating to Baa2/Prime-2, national scales rating to A1.tw/Tw-1, and subordinated debt rating to A2.tw.

The outlook on the ratings is maintained as stable.

E. Sun Commercial Bank Ltd (ESB) was established in 1992 as one of Taiwan's 16 new private banks. The bank's long-term aim is to become a "superior universal bank at the core of a comprehensive financial group". It listed on the OTC market in 1995 and received permission to list on the Taiwan Stock Exchange in August 1998. Its stocks were de-listed when it joined ESFHC as a wholly-owned subsidiary.

E. Sun Financial Holding Company Ltd. is headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan. E. Sun Financial Holding Company (ESFHC) was officially formed in 2002 joining together E. Sun Commercial Bank (ESB), E. Sun Securities (ESS) and E. Sun Bills Finance (which subsequently merged with ESB in 2006). The group continue to expand through merger with E. Sun Venture Capital in the fourth quarter of 2002 and E. Sun Securities Investment Trust Company in 2003.

ESFHC was listed on the Taiwan Stock Exchange on January 28, 2002.

On a consolidated basis, it reported assets of NT$720.6 billion at end-June 2007 (approximately US$22.0 billion).

Hong Kong
Richard Lung
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Asia Pacific Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: (852) 2916-1150
SUBSCRIBERS: (852) 2916-1121

Taipei
Cherry Huang, CFA
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Taiwan Corporation
Telephone: 886-2-2757-7125
Facsimile: 886-2-2757-7129

No Related Data.
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