TEXT-Fitch affirms Attijari Leasing at 'BB+(tun)';outlook stable

Tue Jun 26, 2012 8:16am EDT

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(The following statement was released by the rating agency)

June 26 - Fitch Ratings has affirmed Tunisia-based Attijari Leasing's National Long-term rating at 'BB+(tun)' with Stable Outlook, and Short-term rating at 'B(tun)'. A full list of rating actions is at the end of this comment.

Attijari Leasing's National Long- and Short-term ratings are underpinned by the limited probability of support it is likely to receive from its ultimate shareholder, the Moroccan group Attijariwafa Bank (AWB, 'BB+'/Stable/'B'/'bb-'/'3'), if needed.

Attijari Leasings' capital is 65.2% held by AWB's Tunisian subsidiary, Attijari Bank Tunisie (ABT), which in turn is 54.6%-controlled by the holding company Andalucarthage, which is almost exclusively owned by AWB. Fitch believes there is a high propensity of support from ABT and, ultimately, AWB, for Attijari Leasing, if needed. However, the probability of such support is only limited given AWB's restricted creditworthiness (as indicated by AWB's 'bb-' Viability Rating). ABT is not rated by Fitch.

An upgrade of Attijari Leasing's National Ratings could be triggered by a significant increase of AWB's control in the company and closer integration with AWB. Conversely, a downgrade of Attijari Leasing's national ratings could result if AWB materially reduces its interests in ABT (and subsequently in Attijari Leasing) or following a significant downgrade of AWB's ratings, all of which Fitch considers unlikely in the foreseeable future.

AWB's Long-term foreign currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) is based on the potential support expected from the Moroccan authorities if needed, given the bank's strong franchise in the country. Fitch does not expect that the Moroccan government's support to AWB will extend to cross border subsidiaries such as Attijari Leasing, given the latter's limited strategic importance to AWB and poor integration within the Moroccan bank. Attijari Leasing's assets and equity are 0.5% of each of AWB's total assets and equity. Therefore, Fitch has based its assessment of AWB's capacity to support Attijari Leasings on AWB's Viability Rating rather than its support-driven IDR.

The rating actions are as follows:

Long-term National Rating: affirmed at 'BB+(tun)'; Outlook Stable

Short-term National Rating: affirmed at 'B(tun)'

National Senior Debt rating: affirmed at 'BB+(tun)'

National Subordinated Debt rating: affirmed at 'B+(tun)'

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