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Rating Action:

Moody's upgrades Unicaja's deposit ratings to Baa3; outlook stable

19 Apr 2018

Madrid, April 19, 2018 -- Moody's Investors Service has today upgraded the following ratings and assessments of Unicaja Banco (Unicaja): (1) the bank's deposit ratings to Baa3/Prime-3 from Ba2/Not Prime; (2) the bank's baseline credit assessment (BCA) and adjusted BCA to ba2 from ba3; and (3) the bank's Counterparty Risk (CR) Assessment to Baa2(cr)/Prime-2(cr) from Baa3(cr)/Prime-3(cr). The outlook on the long-term deposit ratings has been changed to stable from positive.

Today's rating action reflects the continued de-risking and strengthening of Unicaja's credit profile as confirmed by 2017 full-year results and Moody's expectation that this trend will continue in 2018 underpinned by Spain's sound economic growth prospects.

The upgrade of the bank's deposit ratings also reflects (1) the lower loss given failure faced by Unicaja's deposits, which have benefited from the significant deleveraging of the bank's balance sheet over the recent past and (2) the bank's 2018 funding plan and debt amortization schedule.

A list of affected ratings can be found at the end of this press release.

RATINGS RATIONALE

---RATIONALE FOR UPGRADING THE BCA

The upgrade of Unicaja's BCA to ba2 from ba3 primarily reflects the bank's improved credit fundamentals after the EUR756.8 million capital increase completed in 2017 and the decline in the stock of non-performing assets (NPA, non-performing loans + foreclosed real estate assets). As a result, Unicaja's loss absorption capacity (measured as NPAs over shareholders' equity and provisions) significantly improved to 77.2% at end-December 2017 from 91.8% a year earlier.

Moody's key capital metric -- the TCE ratio -- increased to 8.5% at end-December 2017 from 5.0% at end-December 2016. Unicaja's regulatory capital ratios have also improved although to a lesser extent than the TCE ratio, as the bulk of the capital increase was earmarked to reimburse the FROB (Spain's government recapitalization fund) the EUR604 million of contingent capital securities that were injected into the bank's subsidiary Espana Duero in 2013. At end-December 2017, Unicaja's fully loaded Common Equity Tier 1 ratio stood at 12.8% compared to 11.8% a year earlier.

Today's rating action also reflects Unicaja's improving asset risk trends with the NPA ratio declining to 15.6% at end-December 2017 from 17.9% a year earlier. Despite these improvements, that namely stem from recoveries and write-offs of NPLs and a significant increase in foreclosed real estate assets disposals, Unicaja continues to display a high level of problematic assets and is above the Spanish system average that Moody's estimates at 14% (end-June 2017 latest data available). More positively, the rating agency expects a further improvement in the bank's asset risk aided by the country's sound economic growth prospects (Moody's expects Spain's GDP to grow by 2.7% in 2018).

In upgrading the bank's BCA to ba2, Moody's also incorporates its expectation of a gradual recovery in Unicaja's recurring earnings on the back of lower funding costs and the positive impact derived from the repayment of the CoCos to the FROB, which carried a high interest cost of EUR60 million per year. Furthermore, the rating agency expects additional cost savings and synergies from the announced integration of its subsidiary Espana Duero into Unicaja.

Unicaja's ba2 BCA is also underpinned by the bank's sound liquidity position, with a large and stable deposit base (representing 79% of total funding at end-December 2017) and sizeable liquid assets.

---RATIONALE FOR UPGRADING THE DEPOSIT RATINGS

The upgrade of Unicaja's deposit ratings to Baa3/Prime-3 from Ba2/Not Prime reflects: (1) The upgrade of the bank's BCA and adjusted BCA to ba2 from ba3; (2) the result from the rating agency's Advanced Loss-Given Failure (LGF) analysis which results in two notches of uplift for the deposits ratings; and (3) Moody's assessment of low probability of government support for Unicaja, which results in no uplift for the deposit ratings.

Taking account of the bank's balance sheet structure at end-December 2017 and its 2018 funding plan and debt redemption schedule, the rating agency's LGF Analysis indicates that the bank's deposits are likely to face a very low loss-given failure, due to the loss absorption provided by subordinated debt, as well as the volume of deposits themselves. This results in a Preliminary Rating Assessment (PRA) of baa3 for deposits two notches above the BCA. This is higher than under the previous analysis, which was based on data as of end-December 2016 and resulted in a one notch uplift from the BCA, mainly because of the decline in the amount of tangible assets as a consequence of Unicaja's sizable balance sheet deleveraging.

---RATIONALE FOR THE STABLE OUTLOOK

The outlook on Unicaja's long-term deposit ratings is stable, reflecting Moody's expectation that the bank will be able to maintain a gradual improvement on its credit profile, namely by further reducing its stock of problematic assets and progressively improving its very modest profitability.

The stable outlook on the bank's deposit ratings also takes into consideration its 2018 funding plan as well as debt amortizations over the next 12 to 18 months.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING - UP

Unicaja's standalone BCA could be adjusted upwards if the bank (1) further improves its loss absorbing buffers in relation to its stock of problematic assets; (2) achieves a sustainable recovery in its recurring earnings with a visible improvement in profitability metrics; and/or (3) materially improves its asset risk with a substantial reduction across all problematic asset classes.

Unicaja's deposit ratings could also be upgraded upon the issuance of very sizable volumes of senior or subordinated debt instruments.

WHAT COULD CHANGE THE RATING - DOWN

Downward pressure on the bank's standalone BCA could result from: (1) a reversal of the currently improving asset risk trends; and/or (2) a weakening of Unicaja's internal capital generation.

Any change to the BCA would likely also affect the bank's deposit ratings, as they are linked to the BCA.

LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS

Issuer: Unicaja Banco

..Upgrades:

....Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, upgraded to ba2 from ba3

....Baseline Credit Assessment, upgraded to ba2 from ba3

....Long-term Bank Deposits, upgraded to Baa3 Stable from Ba2 Positive

....Short-term Bank Deposits, upgraded to P-3 from NP

....Long-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, upgraded to Baa2(cr) from Baa3(cr)

....Short-term Counterparty Risk Assessment, upgraded to P-2(cr) from P-3(cr)

..Outlook Actions:

....Outlook changed to Stable from Positive

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.

Maria Jose Mori
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Espana, S.A.
Calle Principe de Vergara, 131, 6 Planta
Madrid 28002
Spain
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

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

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Espana, S.A.
Calle Principe de Vergara, 131, 6 Planta
Madrid 28002
Spain
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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