TEXT - S&P affirms Itau Unibanco Holding S.A.

Fri Dec 7, 2012 11:59am EST

Overview
     -- Itau Unibanco Holding S.A. has maintained its "very strong" business 
position and "adequate" risk, funding, and liquidity positions, and its 
capital and earnings is still "moderate."
     -- We are affirming our global scale 'BBB/A-2' and 'brAAA/brA-1' national 
scale ratings on Itau Unibanco and its core operating subsidiary Banco Itau 
BBA S.A. 
     -- The stable outlook reflects our expectation that Itau Unibanco will 
continue to expand its loan portfolio and maintain its market share while 
improving its credit quality metrics. 

Rating Action
On Dec. 7, 2012, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services affirmed its 'BBB/A-2' 
global scale ratings on Itau Unibanco Holding S.A. and its operating 
subsidiary Banco Itau BBA S.A. At the same time, Standard & Poor's affirmed 
its 'brAAA/brA-1' national scale ratings on both companies. The outlook on the 
long-term ratings remains stable. The stand-alone credit profile (SACP) of 
both companies is 'bbb+'. 

Rationale
The ratings on Itau Unibanco Holding S.A. reflect its "very strong" (as our 
criteria define the term) business position, "moderate" capital and earnings, 
"adequate" risk position, "average" funding, and "adequate" liquidity. 

Our bank criteria use our Banking Industry Country Risk Assessment (BICRA) 
economic risk and industry risk scores to determine a bank's anchor, the 
starting point in assigning an issuer credit rating. Our anchor for a 
commercial bank operating only in Brazil is 'bbb'. Our economic risk 
assessment reflects our opinion that economic improvements and cautious fiscal 
and monetary policies have added to the Brazilian economic authorities' 
flexibility to manage significant external shocks and potential distortions 
arising from the current economic expansion in Brazil. We believe these 
potential risks remain manageable, and the central bank's proactive stance has 
contained them. We assess industry risk based on our view of Brazil's sound 
regulation, good regulatory track record, and high and stable share of core 
deposits. We consider the banking sector's moderate risk appetite as a 
positive factor.

We assess Itau Unibanco's business position as "very strong," based on its 
"very strong" market position and solid franchise, especially within the 
retail segment. This has resulted in stable market shares in both loans and 
deposits. With total assets of Brazilian real (R$) 960 billion (US$457 
billion)as Sept. 30, 2012, Itau Unibanco is the largest private bank in Latin 
America, and its geographic diversification is not limited to the Federative 
Republic of Brazil (foreign currency rating BBB/Stable/A-2, local currency 
rating A-/Stable/A-2), since it has been expanding its operations in Latin 
America over the past few years. We believe that management has adequately 
guided the group through a long-term strategy to prudently expand operations 
outside of Brazil, while preserving the existing business and prioritizing 
bottom-line results. Itau Unibanco has banking licenses in Argentina, Chile, 
Paraguay, Uruguay, and Colombia. However, the consolidated assets of these 
subsidiaries accounted for a limited 3.9% of the bank's consolidated assets as 
of Sept. 30, 2012, and we don't expect any substantial acquisition in the 
short-term that would change its business profile. 

Locally, Itau Unibanco has established a joint venture with Banco BMG S.A. 
(B/Stable/B), one of the largest originators of payroll lending in Brazil, in 
which Itau Unibanco will hold a 70% stake in a new bank called Banco Itau BMG 
Consignado S.A. (not rated). The deal structure commits limited upfront 
capital (R$700 million) from Itau Unibanco, while giving the bank further 
access to a very competitive and low-risk credit market. We expect that about 
30% of Itau Unibanco's payroll loans will be generated through this channel. 

We assess the bank's capital and earnings as "moderate," based on our 
expectation of a risk-adjusted capital (RAC) ratio of 6.0%-6.5% over the next 
12 months to 18 months. Our base case scenario considers loans growth of 9% in 
2012 and 15% in 2013, dividends payout in line with previous years, and a 
return on adjusted assets of about 1.5% during that time. Our RAC for December 
2011 was 7.2%, but we lowered the forecasted figure due to the impact the 
goodwill that resulted from the company's acquisition of Redecard, a credit 
card processor, had on the total adjusted capital. Itau Unibanco, which was 
already Redecard's largest shareholder, completed its plans to delist the 
company after the acquisition.

Itau Unibanco's risk position is "adequate," in our view, based on its 
relatively simple business model for an institution of its size and its 
diversified balance sheet. We believe that the loan portfolio is adequately 
diverse in terms of customers and geography. The bank has moderate single-name 
concentration due to its retail focus, and the 20 largest exposures are highly 
rated corporates and account for only about 10% of the loan portfolio. Itau 
Unibanco also benefits from its national scope and wide industry 
representation of the lending book. 

The bank has a higher proportion of unsecured retail lending and car loans 
than its peers, and we believe that these products have typically higher risk 
metrics than payroll or corporate loans. Despite this, we believe that Itau 
Unibanco's healthy margins compensate for the risk. Like many of its peers, 
the bank's asset quality deteriorated during the past few quarters due to the 
fast lending growth from 2009 to 2011. However, we expect the asset quality 
indicators to stabilize in fourth-quarter 2012. The bank's short-term asset 
quality indicators have improved, and we expect that the asset quality metrics 
will be at about 5.0% as of year-end 2012, similar to those as of year-end 
2011.

We consider Itau Unibanco's funding to be "average" and its liquidity as 
"adequate." The group benefits from a large base of stable deposits obtained 
through its extensive retail branch network. The loan-to-deposit ratio was 
about 94% as of Sept. 30, 2012, which is similar to a year earlier and 
stronger than most of its large regional peers'. The bank's liquidity is 
consistent with its peers'. Liquid assets represent about 48% of the bank's 
short-term deposits base and include cash plus free government bonds and net 
repurchase agreements totaling approximately R$120 billion.

The long-term issuer credit rating on Itau Unibanco is one notch lower than 
the SACP, and is at the same level as the long-term foreign currency rating on 
Brazil, where Itau Unibanco is domiciled. Under our criteria, the possibility 
of an issuer credit rating on a bank surpassing the sovereign credit rating is 
rare, since the bank would have to show capacity to maintain sufficient 
capital and liquidity to cover the harsh stress that accompanies a sovereign 
default. In addition, the bank could not have significant loan or asset 
exposure to the sovereign, which is not the case for any Brazilian banks 
because their liquid assets are largely invested in sovereign bonds.

Outlook
The stable outlook on Itau Unibanco reflects our expectations that the bank 
will maintain its "very strong" business position and "adequate" risk 
position, while preserving its profitability and capitalization levels and 
without sacrificing underwriting standards. We could raise the rating if we 
take a similar rating action on the foreign currency rating of the sovereign, 
as long as SACP on the bank remains at 'bbb+'. We could lower the rating on 
the bank if the projected RAC ratio were to deteriorate to less than 5%.

Ratings Score Snapshot
Issuer Credit Rating             BBB/Stable/A-2

SACP                             bbb+
 Anchor                          bbb
 Business Position               Very Strong (+2)
 Capital and Earnings            Moderate (-1)
 Risk Position                   Adequate (0)
 Funding and Liquidity           Average and Adequate (0)

Support                          0
 GRE Support                     0
 Group Support                   0
 Sovereign Support               0

Additional Factors              -1

Related Criteria And Research
     -- Banking Industry Country Risk Assessment Methodology And Assumptions, 
Nov. 9, 2011
     -- Banks: Rating Methodology And Assumptions, Nov. 9, 2011
     -- Banking Industry Country Risk Assessment: Brazil, Feb. 24, 2012

Ratings List
Ratings Affirmed

Itau Unibanco Holding S.A.
Banco Itau BBA S.A.
 Counterparty Credit Rating             BBB/Stable/A-2     
 Brazilian Rating Scale                 brAAA/Stable/brA-1 

Itau Unibanco Holding S.A.
 Certificate Of Deposit                 BBB/A-2