TEXT - Fitch affirms Banco del Caribe, C.A. Banco Universal

Wed Feb 6, 2013 3:50pm EST

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(The following statement was released by the rating agency)
    Feb 6 - Fitch Ratings has affirmed Venezuela-based Banco del Caribe, C.A.
Banco Universal's (Bancaribe) Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'B' with a Stable
Rating Outlook. Additionally, Fitch affirmed National Ratings of Bancaribe and
its subsidiary Banco de la Gente Emprendedora, C.A. (Bangente). 
A full list of rating actions follows at the end of this press release. 

RATING ACTION RATIONALE 

Bancaribes's IDR is driven by its financial strength reflected in its Viability 
Rating (VR). The bank's IDRs are one notch below the Sovereign's ratings (local 
and foreign currency IDRs 'B+'; Outlook Negative by Fitch).

Fitch affirmed Bancaribes's VR and IDR ratings based on the bank's overall good 
financial performance, despite the high degree of government intervention in the
banking business. In Fitch's opinion, Bancaribe's successful sound loan growth 
strategy in recent years has underpinned its resilient credit risk profile and 
historic profitability levels, despite Venezuela's inherent operational 
volatility.

Fitch believes that the shareholders' willingness to provide support should it 
be required is possible, though it cannot be relied upon due to the governments 
interference with the banking system, underpinning Bancaribe's Support Rating of
'5'. Bancaribe's Support Rating Floor of 'No Floor' reflects Venezuela's 
speculative grade rating, and the government's limited willingness and capacity 
to provide support.

SENSITIVITIES/RATING DRIVERS

IDRS, VR, AND NATIONAL RATINGS

Bancaribe's ratings reflect its resilient performance in a challenging 
environment, good asset quality, comparably higher profitability (even when 
accounting for inflation), and low liquidity risk relative to other similarly 
rated peers. Comparably weaker capitalization ratios, relatively higher deposit 
funding concentration, and the negative effects of government intervention over 
the banking business and overall private sector activities continue to constrain
the bank's ratings. 

The Rating Outlook for the long-term IDRs is Stable. Positive rating actions 
will be limited as the Sovereign's IDRs currently has a Negative Outlook. A 
significant deterioration in the bank's asset quality which hinders its equity 
loss absorption capacity and pressures the bank's Fitch core capital ratio to a 
level below 10% could pressure the bank's ratings downward, although this is not
Fitch's base case scenario. 

In the event of a sovereign ratings downgrade, Bancaribe's national ratings are 
not expected to be negatively affected. In Fitch's opinion, Bancaribe's credit 
risk profile will maintain its relative position compared with its local peers.

SUPPORT RATING AND SUPPORT RATING FLOOR

There is limited upside to the bank's support rating and support rating floor 
over the medium term given the sovereign's current ratings and Outlooks and the 
government's propensity to intervene in the banking business and overall private
sector activities. 

BANGENTE's SENSITIVITIES/RATING DRIVERS

Bangente's long-term national rating is one notch below Bancaribe's national 
rating, and is driven by the probability of direct or indirect support that will
be provided by Bancaribe, should it be required. Fitch considers Bangente a 
strategic operation for Bancaribe, its majority shareholder (89%).

Bangente's ratings are sensitive to a change in Bancaribe's credit risk profile.
Given Fitch's view on the parent's support propensity, Fitch would maintain 
Bangente's long term national rating one notch below that of Bancaribe in the 
event of a change in the parent's rating. .

Bancaribe is a mid-size bank in Venezuela. The bank has a strong competitive 
position in the middle market with adequate coverage in most of the country's 
regions. Bangente is a small-size microfinance bank.

Fitch has affirmed the following ratings for Bancaribe:

--Long-term foreign and local currency IDRs at 'B'; Outlook Stable;
--Short-term foreign and local currency ratings at 'B'; 
--Viability rating at 'b';
--Support at '5';
--Support floor 'NF'; 
--Long-term national-scale rating at 'A+(ven)'; 
--Short-term national-scale rating at 'F1(ven)';

Fitch has affirmed the following ratings for Bangente:
--Long-term national-scale rating at 'A(ven)'; 
--Short-term national-scale rating at 'F1(ven)';

 (Caryn Trokie, New York Ratings Unit)
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