Moody’s


Moody’s maintains review for downgrade on BNP Paribas’ Aa2 long-term ratings to consider impact of funding challenges on Credit Profile

Further to the review initiated on 15 June 2011

Paris, September 14, 2011 — Moody’s Investors Service has announced an 

extension of its review of the standalone Bank Financial Strength Rating 

(BFSR) and long-term debt and deposit ratings of BNP Paribas (BNPP), 

originally announced on 15 June, 2011.

In the meantime, the rating agency has concluded that

(i) BNPP’s profitability and capital base currently provide an adequate

cushion to support its Greek, Portuguese, and Irish exposures, and

(ii) its long-term debt and deposit ratings are appropriately positioned

two notches above BNPP’s standalone financial strength to reflect the 

likelihood it will receive systemic support from governmental authorities

if needed.

However, Moody’s announced that it will extend its review for downgrade 

of BNPP’s B- BFSR and Aa2 long-term debt and deposit ratings to consider 

the implications of the potentially persistent fragility in the bank 

financing markets, given BNPP’s continued reliance on wholesale funding.

The review is unlikely to lead to a downgrade in the long-term ratings of 

more than one notch.

The Prime-1 short-term ratings have been affirmed.

Moody’s will publish separate press releases on other institutions

covered by the review announced on 15 June, 2011. 

RATINGS RATIONALE

In its press release of 15 June 2011, Moody’s announced a review of the 

BFSRs and long-term ratings of three French banking groups (BNP Paribas, 

Credit Agricole SA and Societe Generale), because of concerns about the 

potential inconsistency between their ratings and their exposures to the 

Greek economy, either through their holdings of government bonds or the 

credit they had extended to the Greek private sector.

Moody’s has concluded that BNPP has a sufficient level of profitability

and capital that it can absorb potential losses it is likely to incur

over time on its Greek government bonds (Greece is rated Ca, outlook

developing), and to remain capitalized consistent with its BFSR, even if 

the creditworthiness of Irish and Portuguese government bonds were to 

deteriorate further. This assessment incorporates loss assumptions that 

are significantly higher than the impairments the bank has already 

recognized (see below).

However, during the review, Moody’s concerns about the structural 

challenges to banks’ funding and liquidity profiles have increased, in 

light of worsening refinancing conditions, and have prompted an extension 

of the review. The continuing review will focus directly on these funding 

and liquidity challenges for BNPP, which, given the current environment, 

could become long-term constraints to the performance of its franchise.

Limited Impact Of Greek And Other Peripheral Sovereign Exposures On 

Overall Risk Profile

Since the start of the review for downgrade, BNPP, along with many other 

financial institutions, has expressed its intention to participate in a 

proposed restructuring of Greek debt. This led to its recognition of 

EUR534 million of impairments against the relevant bonds in the second 

quarter of 2011. BNPP was able to absorb this amount easily, as it 

reported net earnings of EUR2.1 billion (1) for the quarter and continues 

to build its capital ratios.

BNPP still has very large exposures to the peripheral European countries’

government bonds in its banking and trading books, totalling EUR5.9

billion for Greece, Ireland (Ba1, negative outlook), and Portugal (Ba2, 

negative outlook) combined as at 30 June 2011 (1), the majority of which 

matures after five years. Italian and Spanish bond holdings are much 

larger, at EUR24 billion and EUR3.9 billion respectively at end-2010, 

according to European Banking Authority disclosures. BNPP’s exposure to 

Greek private sector credit, by contrast, is relatively small, around 

EUR3.6 billion at end-2010, and Moody’s believes it is mostly in the form 

of large corporate exposures that are less sensitive to the domestic 

economy. On the same basis, BNPP’s loans to the Portuguese and Irish 

private sector totalled EUR4.5 billion and EUR4.8 billion respectively.

In its review, and in the context of a stress test covering BNPP’s global 

loan book and structured finance exposures, Moody’s considered a severe 

case scenario for certain government bond holdings, using haircuts 

significantly higher than the impairments the bank has already 

recognized: 60% for Greece, 50% for Ireland, 50% for Portugal, 10% for 

Spain and 7% for Italy. Taking into account the impairments already made 

against some Greek bonds, we believe resultant pretax losses under this 

scenario would total around EUR4.9 billion, 5.6% of BNPP’s common equity 

Tier 1 capital after tax and 54bp of risk-weighted assets, with further 

mitigation possible via reduced dividends. Loss assumptions for private 

sector credit were based upon those previously published by Moody’s, see 

“European Banking Credit Loss Assumptions”, published on 2 August, 2010.

As a result, Moody’s considers BNPP to be sufficiently profitable and 

capitalized that it can absorb potential related losses. Like many banks, 

BNPP has sought to enhance its capitalization, and reported a common 

equity Tier 1 ratio of 9.6% at end-June 2011 (2), up from about 6% at the 

start of 2008. More generally, BNPP also benefits from an exceptional 

degree of diversity thanks to a broad array of businesses, most of which 

have substantial scale and strong franchises in their own rights and thus 

sound profitability. In addition, the bank has been growing its deposit 

base and lengthening its market funding. However, given the size of the 

Italian bond holdings, BNPP’s creditworthiness would be vulnerable to a 

deterioration of that of Italy. Additionally, its capital markets 

business is large and volatile, and in common with those of many other 

banks, is characterised by a certain complexity and opacity of risk 

profile, as well as a relatively confidence-sensitive customer base.

CONTINUED REVIEW OF BFSR TO FOCUS ON FUNDING PROFILE

As noted above, BNPP’s wholesale funding, the majority of which is 

short-term, is still high in absolute terms and may pose a vulnerability 

given considerable market tension. During the summer, concerns over 

sovereign exposures and the health of sovereign balance sheets grew 

significantly. This was most manifest in the behaviour of US money market 

funds, which are an important source of short-term US dollars for BNPP. 

These funds became particularly risk-averse, resulting in reduced 

availability and shorter tenors for this type of financing. For more 

details, see Moody’s Special Comment, “EU Banks: Stronger Liquidity and 

Central Bank Actions Mitigate Recent Volatility but Longer-Term Concerns 

Remain”.

Moody’s notes that BNPP has substantial holdings of central bank eligible 

assets, which it reports to be around EUR150 billion and of which USD30 

billion is eligible at the Federal Reserve, and short-term interbank 

assets of EUR43 billion (3). In addition, it has full access to 

Eurosystem central bank liquidity in major currencies. As such we believe 

that BNPP can withstand the short-term credit-negative impact of the 

contraction in dollar funding and note that euro funding remains 

plentiful. Even so, the amount of its wholesale funding requirements 

makes the bank vulnerable to deterioration in market sentiment. At 

end—2010, from a strictly accounting view, debt securities and interbank 

borrowings totalled EUR376 billion, or 25% of its total balance sheet 

excluding insurance technical reserves and derivatives, 61% of which was 

due to mature within three months and 77%, within one year (4).

Moody’s expects BNPP to continue to enhance the amount and quality of its 

liquidity, reduce its reliance on the wholesale markets, and lengthen the 

duration of its borrowings, in anticipation of the challenges posed by 

the Net Stable Funding Ratio and Liquidity Coverage Ratio to be 

introduced by Basel III. However, given the likelihood that bank 

financing conditions will remain fragile and prone to disruption so long 

as concerns persist over European sovereigns, and the potential for that 

disruption to become more marked and sustained over time, Moody’s is 

maintaining its review on BNPP’s BFSR. The extended review will assess 

the potential for further, increased disruption to undermine BNPP’s 

business model and creditworthiness given its continued reliance on 

short-term funding, as well as the potential impact on other credit 

considerations, notably profitability.

LONG-TERM DEBT AND DEPOSIT RATINGS REMAIN ON REVIEW FOR POSSIBLE DOWNGRADE

Moody’s regards France as a high support country, in which BNPP plays a 

major role as an intermediary and to whose banking system it is integral.

Moody’s assesses the probability of systemic support for BNPP in the event 

of distress as being very high. As such, the bank receives a two-notch 

uplift from its standalone financial strength rating of B-, equivalent to 

BCA of A1 on the long-term scale, bringing the GLC deposit rating to Aa2, 

which remains on review for possible downgrade, reflecting the review for 

downgrade on the BFSR.

SUBORDINATED OBLIGATIONS AND HYBRID SECURITIES

The ratings on BNPP’s dated subordinated obligations are notched off the 

bank’s fully supported, long-term GLC deposit ratings and therefore 

remain under review for downgrade.

The ratings on the bank’s hybrid obligations are notched off BNPP’s

Adjusted BCA of A1, in accordance with “Moody’s Guidelines for Rating

Bank Hybrid Securities and Subordinated Debt”, published 17 November

2009. They remain on review for downgrade, reflecting the review for 

downgrade on the BFSR.

KEY RATING FACTORS FOR OTHER ENTITIES AFFECTED BY THIS RATING ANNOUNCEMENT

For LaSer Cofinoga, rated C- / Baa1 / A1, on review for possible 

downgrade, the key rating factors are (i) access to backup funding 

facility from BNPP; (ii) the evolution of asset quality; (iii) the 

potential impact of the reform of consumer credit in France on the bank’s 

strategy and franchise. For all other entities affected by this rating 

announcement, please refer to the rationale above. 

PREVIOUS RATING ACTION AND METHODOLOGIES

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on Moodys.com for 

the last Credit Rating Action and the rating history.

The methodologies used in these ratings were Bank Financial Strength 

Ratings: Global Methodology published in February 2007, Incorporation of

Joint-Default Analysis into Moody’s Bank Ratings: A Refined Methodology 

published in March 2007, and Moody’s Guidelines for Rating Bank Hybrid 

Securities and Subordinated Debt published 17 November 2009. Please see 

the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of these 

methodologies.

SOURCES

(1) Source: unaudited interim financial statements

(2) Source: unaudited 2nd quarter financial results

(3) Source: company press release and audited 2010 financial statements

(4) Source: audited 2010 financial statements

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