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Moody downgrades 8 banks’ long-term local currency deposit

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Moody has downgraded to B2 from B1, the long-term local currency deposit and issuer ratings of eight banks over weaker capacity of the government to provide support.

The eight banks are Access Bank Plc, Guaranty Trust Bank Plc (GTBank), United Bank for Africa Plc (UBA) and Zenith Bank Plc.

Others are Union Bank of Nigeria Plc (Union), First Bank of Nigeria Limited (FBN) and Sterling Bank Plc and Bank of Industry.

Concurrently, Moody’s downgraded the baseline credit assessments (BCAs) of Zenith and GTBank to B2 from B1.

According to the rating agency report, “The rating action follows Moody’s downgrade of Nigeria’s government bond ratings to B2, with a stable outlook, from B1, with stable outlook, on 7 November 2017”

The globally rating agency attributed the downgrade to government’s reduced capacity to provide support to Nigerian banks in times of stress and, the banks’ significant holdings of government securities linking their credit profiles to that of the government.

“The decision to downgrade banks’ long-term foreign currency deposit ratings follows the downgrade of the relevant country ceiling for foreign currency deposits to B3 from B2,” the report stated

The report further disclosed that, “The primary driver of the rating action is the weaker capacity of the government to provide support to banks, in case of stress, as reflected in the downgrade of the sovereign issuer rating to B2 from B1.

“Subsequently, Access Bank and UBA’s long-term local currency deposit ratings and Bank of Industry’s long-term issuer ratings no longer benefit from a one-notch uplift from their b2 BCAs (or standalone credit profile, as is the case for Bank of Industry) as these are now at the same level as the government bond rating.

“The long-term local currency deposit ratings of Sterling, Union and FBN have been affirmed at B2, as their b3 BCAs continue benefiting from one notch of government support uplift.

“The secondary driver rating action is the Nigerian banks’ significant holdings of government securities, which generally exceed 100 per cent of their core capital, linking their credit profile to that of the government. In view of the correlation between sovereign and bank credit risk, the banks’ stand alone credit profiles and ratings are constrained by the rating of the government.

“As a result, the BCAs for Zenith and GTBank have been downgraded to b2 from b1, in line with the downgrade of the government issuer rating, despite the resilient financial performance witnessed by both banks over the last 24 months.

“The BCAs of the other rated Nigerian banks have been affirmed as they already capture risks emanating from their sovereign exposures,” the report added.

Motolani Oseni, Lagos

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Ihesiulo Grace

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