Fitch downgrades French bank rating outlook

20th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Fitch Ratings agency said Tuesday it was downgrading the credit outlook on four French banks, including Societe Generale, to negative and putting seven Italian and eight Spanish lenders on watch.

Fitch said it revised the stable outlook to negative on Societe Generale, Groupe BPCE, Dexia Credit Local and La Banque Postale, in line with its downgrade of France's sovereign rating outlook to negative last week.

Other ratings on the banks were either affirmed or unaffected, it added.

Last Friday, Fitch affirmed France's top triple-A rating but revised its long-term outlook on the rating to "negative" from "stable," citing concerns over the eurozone debt crisis

"The intensification of the Eurozone crisis since July constitutes a significant negative shock to the region and to France's economy and the stability of its financial sector," Fitch said Friday.

"In the absence of a material adverse shock, most likely associated with dramatic worsening of the Eurozone crisis, Fitch would not expect to resolve the Negative Outlook on France until 2013," it said Tuesday.

In a separate statement, Fitch, one of the top three ratings agencies, said it had put the Long-Term Issuer Default Ratings and Viability Ratings of seven Italian and eight Spanish banks on 'Rating Watch Negative.'

The decision followed its announcement Friday that it could soon downgrade six countries, including Spain and Italy, depending on how the eurozone debt crisis developed.

The Italian banks were Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena; Banca Popolare di Sondrio; Banco di Desio e della Brianza; Banco Popolare; Iccrea Holding; Intesa Sanpaolo and Unione di Banche Italiane-UBI Banca.

The RWN action reflected "Fitch's view that pressure on the banks' earnings, funding, liquidity, asset quality and capitalisation would increase further in an increasingly difficult operating environment."

The Spanish banking groups and affiliates similarly affected were listed as Banco Santander; Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria; CaixaBank; Caja de Ahorros y Pensiones de Barcelona; Caja Laboral; Banco Cooperativo Espanol; Confederacion Espanola de Cajas de Ahorros; Bankia and affiliates Bilbao Bizcaia Kutxa and Monte de Piedad y Caja de Ahorros de Ronda, Cadiz, Almeria, Malaga, Antequera y Jaen (Unicaja).

© 2011 AFP

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