UniCredito Italiano comunica che in data odierna l'agenzia di rating Standard & Poor's ha ridotto i rating assegnati a UniCredito Italiano SpA ed alle sue controllate UniCredit Banca Mobiliare ed UniCredit Banca d'Impresa a "A+" (da "AA-") per i debiti a lungo termine e a "A-1" (da "A-1+") per quelli a breve termine. Standard & Poor's ha inoltre ridotto il rating di lungo termine di Locat SpA a "A" (da "A+"), confermando invece il rating di breve termine a "A-1". L'outlook sulla capogruppo e su tutte le controllate sopra menzionate è negativo.
Contestualmente Standard & Poor's ha alzato rispettivamente a "A" (da "A-") e a "A-1" (da "A-2") i rating di lungo e di breve termine di Bayerische Hypo-und Vereinsbank e Bank Austria Creditanstalt, con outlook negativi.
Tali azioni, che fanno seguito alla messa sotto osservazione dei rating sopra menzionati effettuata da Standard & Poor's contestualmente all'ufficializzazione della possibile aggregazione tra i gruppi UniCredit ed HVB, sono riconducibili al successo dell'offerta d'acquisto promossa da UniCredit sul gruppo HVB.
UniCredit precisa che le menzionate azioni di Standard & Poor's erano attese, in virtù dei differenti livelli di rating assegnati dall'agenzia stessa ai gruppi UniCredit ed HVB prima dell'annuncio dell'integrazione.
In allegato il testo integrale del comunicato stampa di Standard & Poor's contenente il dettaglio di tutte le rating actions odierne sulle società del gruppo UniCredit.
Tel. +39 02 88628236; e-mail: Uci.Ufficiostampa@unicredit.it
Tel. + 39 02 88628715; e-mail: UCI-InvestorRelations@unicredit.it
TESTO INTEGRALE DEL COMUNICATO STAMPA DI STANDARD & POOR'S
Research Update: UniCredito Italiano Ratings Lowered To 'A+/A-1' On HVB Deal; Outlook Negative; Off Watch
Publication date: 28-Oct-2005
Primary Credit Analyst: Alberto Buffa di Perrero, Milan (39) 02-72111-205;
Secondary Credit Analyst: Arnaud De Toytot, Paris (33) 1-4420-6692;
Credit Rating: A+/Negative/A-1
On Oct. 28, 2005, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services lowered its long- and short-term counterparty credit ratings to 'A+/A-1' from 'AA-/A-1+' on leading Italian bank UniCredito Italiano SpA (UniCredito) and its subsidiaries Unicredit Banca Mobiliare SpA (UBM) and Unicredit Banca d'Impresa SpA (UBI). Standard & Poor's also lowered its long-term counterparty credit rating on leasing subsidiary Locat SpA to 'A' from 'A+', while affirming its 'A-1' short-term counterparty credit rating. The outlook on Unicredito and its related entities is negative.
At the same time, all the ratings were removed from CreditWatch, where they had been placed with negative implications on May 31, 2005, (those on UniCredito, UBM, and Locat SpA) and July 13, 2005, (UBI) after Unicredito's bid for Germany-based Bayerische Hypo- und Vereinsbank AG (HVB, A/Negative/A-1).
The downgrades follow the announcement that 88.14% of HVB's shareholders have accepted UniCredito's exchange offer.
The lowering of the ratings reflects:
The material dilution of group profitability, given HVB's comparatively low earnings. For instance, UniCredito's post-merger combined pro forma cost-to-income ratio was 61% at midyear 2005, versus a 54% pre-merger figure at the same date. Significant earnings improvement by 2007 is highly reliant on the group's ability to share best practices and accelerate revenue growth, notably in Germany;
An initially sharp decline in capital ratios, due to HVB's weak capitalization. Standard & Poor's measure of "core" capital, adjusted common equity, for the new UniCredito would be about 5% according to pro forma 2004 combined data, versus 7.15% for pre-merger UniCredito;
Exposure to the persistently weak German property market. HVB's commercial property loans carry high credit risk stemming from the currently fragile German economy and real estate markets; and
The managerial challenges related to combining two large, complex banking groups with distinct cultures and operating in different countries.
The ratings are supported by:
Broad business and geographic diversification. Despite the currently unfavorable macroeconomic environment in Italy, Germany, and Austria, the combined group stands to benefit from strong market shares in wealthy northern Italy and the German state of Bavaria;
UniCredito's stronger market position in the more dynamic economies in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). In assessing prospective earnings from these operations, Standard & Poor's also takes into consideration the intrinsically higher volatility of these markets, with greater system risks and potential fluctuations in credit risk; Expected tight integration under the proposed business model, based on clear segmentation principles; and
Clear corporate governance rules. Management's accountability, through set individual responsibilities and roles, is likely to facilitate the merger process.
The negative outlook reflects the possible downgrades of UniCredito and its related entities if the new group fails to achieve tangible improvement in consolidated earnings and capital ratios over the next two years. The main uncertainty relates to the group's performance in Germany. Given the country's low economic growth and persistently weak property markets, expected progress in UniCredito's earnings will largely depend on its successful turnaround of German operations and the reduction of credit risk related to its real estate lending book. Furthermore, Standard & Poor's will closely monitor the pace and efficiency of the integration
process, given that the sheer complexity of a cross-border link-up between two large banking groups entails significant execution risks.
We expect earnings retention and asset disposals to enable steady rebuilding of the group's capital position over the next two years, in line with Unicredito's prudent capital policy, even taking into account the possible cash disbursement related to purchases of minority stakes at
Bank Austria Creditanstalt AG (A/Negative/A-1) and Bank BPH S.A. (BBBpi/--/--). If the group successfully restores its earnings and capital ratios, we could revise the outlook to stable.
Unicredito is committed to restoring its consolidated core Tier 1 ratio (excluding hybrid capital) to 6% by year-end 2006, from an expected 5% at year-end 2005, and to its established target of 6.8% thereafter.
UniCredito's New Business Profile
The new UniCredito is one of the largest Pan-European banking groups, with leading positions in Italy, Germany, Austria, and 12 countries in CEE. The combined distribution network unites more than 7,000 branches. UniCredito is the largest player in CEE, with €70 billion ($85 billion) in total assets and 3,000 branches. At year-end 2004, CEE represented 10% of group pro forma loans and 15% of revenues. Poland alone accounts for about 40% of total assets in CEE.