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Rating Action:

Moody's upgrades RCB Bank's deposit ratings to Caa1; stable outlook

17 Nov 2014

Action follows the raising of Cyprus' deposit ceiling to Caa1

Limassol, November 17, 2014 -- Moody's Investors Service has today upgraded RCB Bank Ltd (RCB's) deposit ratings to Caa1 from Caa2. The Caa1 ratings carry a stable outlook. The rating action follows Moody's upgrade of the Cyprus' government bond rating to B3 from Caa3 and the subsequent raising of Moody's deposit ceiling in Cyprus to Caa1 from Caa2. Please see "Moody's upgrades Cyprus's government bond rating to B3 and assigns stable outlook" (https://www.moodys.com/research/--PR_312462) published on 14 November for more details on the sovereign action.

Moody's upgrade of RCB Bank's deposit ratings to Caa1 reflects: (1) the raising of the country deposit ceiling, which previously constrained RCB's ratings; and (2) RCB's strong regulatory capital buffers and stable funding profile, balanced against its limited domestic franchise, which reflects both RCB's dependence on its parent bank, Russian Bank VTB, JSC (VTB Baa3 negative, D- negative/ba3) and VTB's intention to reduce its stake in RCB.

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

RATINGS RATIONALE

The primary driver of this rating action is the raising of the country deposit ceiling to Caa1 from Caa2, which previously constrained RCB's ratings. The Caa1 ceiling captures the economic, financial, political and legal risks in Cyprus and represents the highest deposit rating that can be assigned to a bank registered in the country.

Following the raising of the ceiling, RCB's ratings reflect the balance between 1) RCB's limited domestic franchise, which reflects both RCB's dependence on its parent bank, the Russia-based, government-owned Bank VTB (VTB Baa3 negative, D- negative/ba3) and VTB's intention to reduce its stake in RCB, and 2) RCB's favorable financial metrics, including strong regulatory capital buffers and a stable funding profile.

In terms of the rating agency's view of RCB's limited franchise, RCB was incorporated in Cyprus mainly to serve VTB Group's interests and although the bank plans to expand its local operations, the bank's franchise outside the VTB Group remains limited. RCB has limited franchise as VTB currently originates, funds and guarantees the majority of RCB's loans, in addition to maintaining a high level of oversight. Furthermore, despite this strong linkage with Bank VTB, the rating agency also considers that this association will likely weaken going forward, in light of both VTB's planned divestment from RCB Bank through a capital increase, which will decrease its stake to 46.29% from 60% currently, as well as the 38% contraction in RCB Bank's balance sheet in 2013.

RCB Bank's ratings balance these considerations against its currently favorable financial profile, which benefits from the ongoing support of VTB. Although nominal leverage is relatively high, the bank reports strong regulatory capital levels, benefitting from guarantees and cash collateral against most of the bank's loans, which reduce its risk-weighted assets. As of December 2013, the bank reported a Tier 1 ratio of 16.78%, which enabled it to pass the European Central Bank's comprehensive assessment. Cash collateral also improves the bank's asset quality with impaired loans accounting for 0.53% of gross loans. RCB Bank's funding and liquidity profiles also benefit from stable funding provided by Bank VTB.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATINGS UP/DOWN

Upward pressure on the bank's deposit ratings could develop if the deposit ceiling in Cyprus is further raised. Over the longer term, positive pressure could develop on RCB Bank's BCA if the bank strengthens its franchise outside the VTB group while maintaining its strong financial profile.

Downward pressure on RCB's ratings could develop following a deterioration in its financial profile or a further weakening in its franchise value.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

Long-term deposit ratings: Upgraded to Caa1 with stable outlook from Caa2, stable outlook

Short-term deposit: Affirmed at Not Prime

Standalone BFSR: Affirmed at E, stable outlook

Baseline credit assessment (BCA) changed to caa1 from caa2

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in this rating 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.

Melina Skouridou
Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Cyprus Ltd.
Kanika Business Centre
319 28th October Avenue
PO Box 53205
Limassol CY 3301
Cyprus
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Yves J Lemay
MD - Banking
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Cyprus Ltd.
Kanika Business Centre
319 28th October Avenue
PO Box 53205
Limassol CY 3301
Cyprus
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's upgrades RCB Bank's deposit ratings to Caa1; stable outlook
No Related Data.
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