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Rating Action:

Moody's upgrades Zions Bancorporation (subordinate to Ba2); outlook is stable

17 Dec 2012

New York, December 17, 2012 -- Moody's Investors Service upgraded the long-term ratings of Zions Bancorporation and its subsidiaries. Zions Bancorporation was upgraded to Ba2 from B1 for subordinated debt. Its lead bank, Zions First National Bank, was upgraded to Baa3 from Ba1 for long-term deposits and to Prime-3 from Not-Prime for short-term deposits. The standalone bank financial strength rating was affirmed at D+, but its baseline credit assessment was raised to baa3 from ba1. The holding company's short-term rating was affirmed at Not-Prime. Following the upgrade, the rating outlook is stable.

This concludes the review for upgrade that began on October 3, 2012.

RATINGS RATIONALE

The upgrades were the result of Zions' improved balance sheet and Moody's view that the firm's commercial real estate (CRE) concentration will not return to the much higher levels it carried prior to the financial crisis. Nonetheless, although Zions' CRE concentration is reduced Moody's expects it to remain elevated, constraining further rating upgrades.

Moody's noted that Zions' balance sheet has strengthened with its improved asset quality and capital metrics and continued good liquidity. Nonperforming assets (NPAs including nonaccruals, 90+ days past due, OREO, and accruing troubled debt restructurings) were $1.3 billion, or 23% of tangible common equity (TCE) and reserves at September 30, 2012. This is less than half of the peak amount reached in late 2009. Zions' TCE as a percentage of risk-weighted assets of 11.4% at September 30, 2012 is considerably higher because of capital issuance. Additionally, Zions has ample core deposit funding and limited extension risk in its investment portfolio, which will be a benefit when interest rates rise.

In addition to CRE, Moody's added that Zions still maintains a sizeable concentration risk through its investment in trust preferred CDOs, which is highly correlated with the performance of CRE. The risk of managing these investments was highlighted by the higher impairment charge to be taken in the fourth quarter of 2012, which was the result of changes in valuation assumptions prompted by bank regulators.

Despite the upgrade, Moody's views Zions' business mix as narrow because of its CRE focus and reliance on net interest income. With sluggish loan demand and intense competition, diversification away from CRE is expected to be difficult. Similarly, building sustainable fee generating businesses is likely to be a long-term effort.

The last rating action on Zions was on October 3, 2012 when the ratings were placed on review for upgrade.

The principal methodology used in this rating was Moody's Consolidated Global Bank Rating Methodology published in June 2012. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

Zions Bancorporation headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah reported total assets of $53.1 billion as of September 30, 2012.

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For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides relevant 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 relevant 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 relevant 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.

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Rita Sahu
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Robert Franklyn Young
MD - Financial Institutions
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service, Inc.
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Moody's upgrades Zions Bancorporation (subordinate to Ba2); outlook is stable
No Related Data.
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