Moody’s placed on review ATF Bank ratings for downgrade

March 27. KASE

Moody's placed on review ATF Bank ratings for downgradeMoody’s Investors Service has today placed on review for downgrade the following ratings of ATF Bank: the B1 long-term local – and foreign-currency deposit ratings, the B1 senior unsecured foreign-currency debt rating, the B3 junior subordinated foreign-currency debt rating, and the E+ standalone bank financial strength rating (BFSR).

The review follows a joint announcement on 15 March 2013 – by ATF bank and by UniCredit Group (UniCredit, the owner of a 99.75% stake in ATF Bank via its subsidiary UniCredit Bank Austria AG) – regarding UniCredit’s decision to dispose of its Kazakh banking subsidiary, ATF Bank. The ultimate parent – UniCredit Group is rated Baa2 deposits negative, BFSR C-/BCA baa2 negative.

RATINGS RATIONALE

In placing ATF Bank’s deposit and debt ratings on review for downgrade, Moody’s noted that they currently benefit from a two-notch uplift from the bank’s  b3 baseline credit assessment (BCA), due to the rating agency’s assessment of a moderate probability of parental support from UniCredit. Moody’s will continue to incorporate a moderate probability of parental support to ATF Bank’s ratings because the rating agency expects UniCredit to maintain its support towards  ATF Bank until the proposed transaction is concluded. However, Moody’s is likely to remove the two notches of uplift if and when UniCredit completes the transaction with KazNitrogenGaz LLP, which requires regulatory approvals and  is scheduled for completion in the second quarter of 2013.

Moody’s further explained that ATF Bank’s fundamental credit quality – reflected in its standalone BFSR and BCA, currently at E+/b3 – might be also pressured by UniCredit’s exit due to (1) ATF Bank’s weak asset quality, which may continue to deteriorate and put pressure on its capital; (2) the potential negative impact on liquidity, given that 15% of the bank’s liabilities (as at H1 2012) were attracted from UniCredit, while close linkage with UniCredit provided an additional leverage to attract deposits; and (3) possible deterioration in profitability and operating efficiency as well as in franchise value as a result of the negative impact of UniCredit’s exit on ATF Bank’s average cost of funding and business volumes.

FOCUS OF THE REVIEW

The ratings review will focus on: (1) the progress that UniCredit and KazNitrogenGaz LLP make towards implementing the ATF Bank transaction; (2) the strategy which the new shareholder will be aiming to introduce in ATF Bank when it obtains control; (3) the direct impact of the the transaction on the  bank’s financial fundamentals and funding profile; and (4) the structure of the  proposed transaction in respect of problem loans that are currently under-provisioned and covered by the parent’s guarantees, i.e., enabling ATF Bank to enhance its capital base.

Headquartered in Almaty, Kazakhstan, ATF Bank reported total assets of KZT852 billion ($5.7 billion) and total shareholder equity of KZT71 billion ($474 million) as at YE2012 under unaudited regulatory reports.

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