Fitch Affirms Banco Macro's (Argentina) IDR at 'B-'; Outlook Negative

Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:04pm EDT

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(The following statement was released by the rating agency) BUENOS AIRES/NEW YORK, March 20 (Fitch) Fitch Ratings has affirmed Banco Macro S.A.'s (BM) Viability Rating (VR) and Long-term Issuer Default Ratings (LT IDRs) at 'b-' and 'B-', respectively. The Rating Outlook on the Long-term IDRs is Negative. See the full list of ratings actions at the end of this rating action commentary. KEY RATING DRIVERS BM's IDRs and National Scale ratings are driven by its 'b-' VR, which reflects its strong national franchise and growth potential, its solid overall performance, with strong profitability, healthy asset quality and sound liquidity, and its capital position. The ratings also take into account the volatile environment in Argentina. BM's foreign currency (FC) IDR is at the country ceiling level, which is above Argentina's FC Sovereign rating ('CC', with a Negative Outlook), reflecting BM's strong local franchise and track record of sound overall performance. Despite Argentina's FC Sovereign rating being 'CC'; Negative Outlook, both its LC and FC Sovereign securities issued under Argentina Law, are rated 'B-' with a Negative Outlook, the same level as BM's FC IDR. BM's subordinated debt is rated 'CCC/RR6'/A+(arg)', which is one notch below the bank's VR. Although the standard notching for this type of security under Fitch's criteria 'Assessing and Rating Bank Subordinated and Hybrid Securities' dated Dec. 5, 2012, is two notches, reflecting the notes' increased loss severity and heightened risk of nonperformance relative to the senior obligations, BM's subordinated debt is one notch below its VR given the compression that arises from its low level ('b-'). RATING SENSITIVITIES The Rating Outlook on BM's LT IDRs and LT National rating is Negative, in line with the Outlook on Argentina's Sovereign ratings, which constrain those of BM. Downside risk to Macro's ratings mainly stem from a downgrade of the Sovereign rating, or a significant decline in the bank's capitalization or asset quality. Upside to Macro's ratings currently appears limited but could stem from an upgrade of the Sovereign ratings. CREDIT PROFILE Along with the strong economic growth since 2003 in Argentina, BM's performance has been sound, based on its strong revenue generation, good asset quality and ample liquidity. A good level of income diversification has helped offset the increase in administrative expenses due to high inflation and the volatility of the gains from its securities portfolio seen in the past two years. Credit should continue to expand in 2013, albeit at a slower pace than that seen in 2012. In this context, Fitch expects BM's overall performance to remain sound. BM's loan book has grown strongly in the past few years and its asset quality ratios are healthy. BM's non-performing loans (NPLs) accounted for a low 1.82% of total loans at Dec. 31, 2012, with sound loan loss reserve coverage of 191.28%. Since 2012, banks in Argentina must comply with certain rules regarding compulsory lending that, in Fitch's view, may limit their room to maneuver regarding credit risk management and may result in some pressure on the industry asset quality ratios, even though the results of such measures are too early to judge. BM's liquidity is strong, with liquid assets that equate to 34% of total deposits. However, Fitch is cautious about the large negative maturity mismatch of all banks in Argentina given the short-term nature of their liabilities and the longer tenor on their assets. However, this position appears manageable given the bank's strong franchise and the complex set of capital controls in place. Its capital base is ample (Fitch Core Capital Ratio of 17.02% at Dec. 31, 2012). Fitch expects the latter trend to continue to improve in the next few years as the restriction imposed by the Central bank of Argentina on dividend payments will compensate for the expected continued growth of the bank. BM is controlled by a group of Argentine individuals led by Jorge Horacio Brito and Delfin Jorge Ezequiel Carballo, with a 43% stake. The former is also the bank's chairman and CEO. A 31% stake is in the hands of the public pension fund administrators after the privatization of the pension system, and the balance is widely held by local and foreign investors. At Oct. 31, 2012, BM was the third-largest private sector bank in Argentina by deposits and assets. Fitch has affirmed BM's ratings as follows: --FC and LC LT IDRs at 'B-'; --FC and LC short-term IDRs at 'B'; --Viability Rating at 'b-'; --Support at '5'; --Support Floor at 'NF'; --LT National rating at 'AA(arg)'; --Short-term National rating at 'A1+(arg)'; --USD150 million Senior bonds Class 2 at 'B-/RR4/AA(arg)'; --USD150 million subordinated debt at 'CCC/RR6/A+(arg)'. The Rating Outlook on BM's FC and LC LT IDRs, LT National rating and the LT National rating on its senior and subordinated bonds issuances is Negative. Contact: Primary Analyst Santiago Gallo Director +54-11-5235-8137 Fitch Argentina Calificadora de Riesgo S.A. Sarmiento 663 - piso 7 - C1041AAM Buenos Aires, Argentina Secondary Analyst Natalia Mazzotta Associate Director +54-11-5235-8112 Committee Chairperson Franklin Santarelli Managing Director +1-212-908-0739 Media Relations: Sandro Scenga, New York, Tel: +1 212-908-0278, Email: sandro.scenga@fitchratings.com. Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'. The ratings above were solicited by, or on behalf of, the issuer, and therefore, Fitch has been compensated for the provision of the ratings. Applicable Criteria and Related Research: --'Global Financial Institutions Rating Criteria' (Aug. 15, 2012). Applicable Criteria and Related Research Global Financial Institutions Rating Criteria here ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: here. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY'S PUBLIC WEBSITE 'WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM'. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH'S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE 'CODE OF CONDUCT' SECTION OF THIS SITE. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH WEBSITE.

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