TEXT-Fitch rates Absolut Bank exchange bonds

Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:09am EDT

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(The following statement was released by the rating agency)

March 26 - Fitch Ratings has assigned Absolut Bank's (AB) RUB5bn senior unsecured exchange bonds (BO-02 series) a National Long-term rating of 'AA(rus)' and placed it on Rating Watch Evolving (RWE). The bond will have a three-year maturity with a put option.

The bonds bear a 9% fixed coupon rate set for the first two coupon periods. AB's obligations under the bonds rank equally with the claims of other senior unsecured creditors except claims of retail depositors, which under Russian law rank above those of other senior unsecured creditors. Retail deposits accounted for 23% of the bank's total liabilities at end-February 2012, according to statutory accounts.

AB has a Long-term foreign currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of 'BB+'/RWE, Short-term IDR of 'B', Viability Rating of 'b', Support Rating of '3'/RWE and National Long-term Rating of 'AA(rus)'/RWE. The Long-term IDR is based on the potential support from its owner, Belgium's KBC Bank (KBCB; 'A-'/ Stable/'bbb-') which holds 99% of AB's ordinary shares. The RWE on the ratings reflects the parent institution's intention to divest AB by the end of 2013, according to a plan agreed with European Commission. AB is a medium-sized Russian bank. (Caryn Trokie, New York Ratings Unit)

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