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Rating Action:

Moody's upgrades Natexis Banques Populaires, renamed Natixis, to Aa2; confirms Aa2 ratings of Caisse Nationale des Caisses d'Epargne Prevoyance and of IXIS CIB

17 Nov 2006
Moody's upgrades Natexis Banques Populaires, renamed Natixis, to Aa2; confirms Aa2 ratings of Caisse Nationale des Caisses d'Epargne Prevoyance and of IXIS CIB

London, 17 November 2006 -- Moody's Investors Service Ltd. has upgraded to Aa2 with a stable outlook from Aa3 the long-term deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings of Natexis Banques Populaires, renamed Natixis. In addition, the outlook on the bank's C financial strength rating (FSR) has been changed to positive from stable. The P-1 short-term bank deposit and debt ratings of Natixis and their stable outlook are unchanged. Moody's has also concluded the reviews initiated on 26 May 2006 and on 7 June 2006 and confirmed, with a stable outlook, the long-term deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings of --

- Caisse Nationale des Caisses d'Epargne Prevoyance (CNCEP) at Aa2 (its P-1/B ratings are unchanged). The review focused on the importance of the French State's support without Caisse des Depots et Consignations (CDC) owning a direct stake in CNCEP;

- IXIS Corporate and Investment Bank (IXIS CIB) at Aa2 (its P-1/C ratings are unchanged). The review focused on the strategic importance of IXIS CIB within Natixis and on support considerations; and

- Banque Palatine at Aa3 (its P-1/C- ratings are unchanged). The review focused on CNCEP's support of the bank and on clarifying the position, role and strategy of Banque Palatine within the Savings Banks group as a consequence of the creation of Natixis.

As part of this rating action, Moody's has also upgraded to Aa2 from Aa3 Credit Foncier de France's (CFF) long-term bank deposit and debt ratings (its P-1/C- ratings are unchanged).

In addition, Moody's has affirmed the Aaa insurance financial strength (IFS) ratings of CIFG Guaranty, CIFG Europe and CIFG Assurance North America, Inc., the financial guaranty insurance companies contributed to Natixis by CNCEP. The ratings of the Banque Populaire group, which is rated Aa3/P-1/B (stable outlooks) through the Banque Federale des Banques Populaires (BFBP), are also affirmed. The ratings of Coface and related companies will be commented on in a separate press release, noted Moody's.

Commenting on these rating actions, Moody's said that the Aa2 long-term deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings of Natixis incorporate the strong support expected from both the Banque Populaire and the Savings Banks mutualist groups. In particular, these ratings take into account the very strong commitment of Natixis' strategic shareholders - CNCEP and BFBP - vis-a-vis the Bank of France to support Natixis. They also factor in the expectation that Natixis will ultimately benefit from a "double affiliation" status, as proposed amendments to the "Code Monetaire et Financier" have reached an advanced stage of approval. In addition, they take into account the expectation that Natixis will benefit from specific internal support mechanisms agreed between BFBP and CNCEP in a Shareholders' Pact and from other internal agreements reached by these two strategic shareholders.

With regards to the change of Natixis' C FSR rating outlook to positive from stable, Moody's said that this rating action reflects, in particular, the strengthened franchise and market position of Natixis post the contribution of key CNCEP businesses, which complement well those of the former NBP. It reflects the diversified revenue streams of Natixis, its comfortable capitalisation, as well as the expectation that the bank's financial strength will improve as revenue and cost synergies are realised, and as the bank's medium-term rationalisation and growth strategy are implemented. Moody's cautioned however that execution and operational risks in respect of the restructuring of the bank and the integration of subsidiaries, particularly IXIS CIB, are material. The rating agency also said that it would closely follow developments in the area of risk governance and management.

Commenting on individual reviews concluded in this rating action, Moody's said that the long-term deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings of CNCEP -- confirmed at Aa2 -- incorporate Moody's expectation of some continued State support, in spite of CDC's forthcoming exit from CNCEP's capital in the course of 2007, given the systemic importance of the Savings Banks group.

In addition, in the case of IXIS CIB, Moody's commented that its long-term bank deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings -- also confirmed at Aa2 -- point to the strategic importance of IXIS CIB for Natixis. This rating action reflects the planned full integration of IXIS CIB within Natixis in the short-term and, ultimately, the expected support of BFBP and CNCEP in respect of IXIS CIB through Natixis if need be, until the full integration of IXIS CIB within Natixis. Importantly, the Aa2 rating of all existing IXIS CIB and related issuing vehicle debt outstanding guaranteed by CNCEP is confirmed at Aa2. All new debt issued by IXIS CIB until its full integration within Natixis will be guaranteed by CNCEP and, as such, will be rated Aa2. Moreover, existing and future debt issues of IXIS CIB and of related issuing vehicles guaranteed by CDC or CNCEP continue to benefit from existing guarantee arrangements, noted Moody's.

With regards to the long-term deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings of Banque Palatine -- confirmed at Aa3 -- this rating level reflects Moody's appreciation of the role and strategic importance of the bank for the Savings Banks group. While Banque Palatine benefits from an affiliated status within the Savings Banks group, Moody's believes that its strategic importance is lower than for other affiliated group members that are rated. In addition, the level of integration of Banque Palatine within the Savings Bank's group remains low and is not expected to increase significantly in the short-to medium-term.

Turning to the upgrade of CFF to Aa2 from Aa3, this rating action is directly related to the confirmation at Aa2 of CNCEP's long-term bank deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings. It reflects the strategic role of CFF within CNCEP, its increasing operating integration with the Savings Banks group, its leading position within the French and the European covered bond market, as well as its status as affiliated entity within the Savings Banks group.

The following ratings were upgraded, with stable outlooks:

- Natixis (formerly Natexis Banques Populaires): (i) long-term deposit, senior unsecured debt, and Issuer ratings to Aa2 from Aa3; (ii) subordinated and junior subordinated debt ratings to Aa3 from A1; and (iii) deeply subordinated debt rating to A1 from A2

- Natexis Luxembourg SA: long-term bank deposit rating to Aa2 from Aa3

- Natexis AMBS Company LLC, NBP Capital Trust I, NBP Capital Trust III, and NBP Preferred Capital I, LLC: preferred stock to A1 from A2

- Credit Foncier de France: (i) long-term bank deposit and debt ratings to Aa2 from Aa3; and (ii) subordinated debt rating to Aa3 from A1

The following ratings were confirmed, with stable outlooks:

- CNCEP: (i) Aa2 bank deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings, (ii) Aa3 subordinated debt ratings, and (iii) A1 deeply subordinated debt ratings

- IXIS CIB: (i) Aa2 bank deposit and senior unsecured debt ratings, (ii) Aa3 subordinated debt ratings, and (iii) Aa2 and Aa3 debt ratings guaranteed by CNCEP

- IXIS Structured Products Limited: Aa2 senior unsecured debt ratings guaranteed by CNCEP

- Banque Palatine: Aa3 long-term bank deposit rating

The following rating outlook was changed:

- Natixis: The outlook on Natixis' FSR of C was changed to positive from stable.

Based in Paris, Natixis is the newly formed bank resulting from the contribution of a number of financial institutions owned by CNCEP to Natexis Banques Populaires. On a pro-forma basis, Natixis had consolidated assets of Euro 437.9 billion at end-2005 and exhibited a net profit, group share, of Euro 1,662 million.

Based in Paris, CNCEP is the central entity and main debt issuing vehicle of the French Savings Banks mutualist group. At year-end 2005, CNCEP had total consolidated assets of Euro 437.6 billion (2004: Euro 387.8 billion) and posted a net profit group share of Euro 1,103 million (2004: 885 million). The Savings Banks group had total consolidated assets of Euro 594.1 billion (2004: 543.9 billion) and posted a consolidated net profit group share of 2,071 million (2004: Euro 1,785 million) at end-2005.

Based in Paris, BFBP is the central entity of the Banque Populaire mutualist group. At year-end 2005, BFBP had total consolidated assets of Euro 173.3 billion (2004: Euro 145.4 billion) and it posted a net profit of Euro 544 million (2004: Euro 350 million). The Banque Populaire Group had total consolidated assets of Euro 288.7 billion (2004: Euro 250.5 billion) and posted a net profit group share of Euro 1,522 million (2004: Euro 1,195 million) at end-2005.

London
Lynn Exton
Senior Vice President
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

London
Patricia Dambrine
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Ltd.
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

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