Fitch Affirms Taiwan's China Bills Finance Corp at 'BBB'

Thu Mar 20, 2014 2:02am EDT

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(The following statement was released by the rating agency) TAIPEI/SINGAPORE, March 20 (Fitch) Fitch Ratings has affirmed Taiwan-based China Bills Finance Corporation's (CBF) Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'BBB'. The Outlook is Stable. The other ratings on the company have also been affirmed. A full list of rating actions is provided at the end of this commentary. KEY RATING DRIVERS - IDRs, National Ratings and VRs The affirmation reflects CBF's strong franchise in the Taiwanese bills finance sector, sound asset quality and adequate capitalisation. The ratings are tempered by sector-wide structural issues, including limited business scope, a business model that is reliant on wholesale funding, and susceptibility to sharp changes in interest rates. Fitch believes CBF's spread revenue and trading gains are likely to remain constrained in the current low interest rate environment. CBF reported modest earnings growth for 9M13, with annualised return on equity at 7.7%, aided by a one-off recovery and increased guarantee volumes. CBF's modest guarantee/equity ratio of 3.7x at end-2013 suggests a moderate appetite for credit risk. It has low impaired exposures (end-2013: 0% of total guarantees) and is protected by a comfortable provision coverage. CBF actively manages its liquidity and funding. It moderates potential funding risk by using high-quality securities as collateral against repurchase and maintaining large and stable bank lines. Fitch expects CBF to maintain a sound capital profile commensurate with its risk exposure. Its Fitch Core Capital ratio has been stable and stood at around 13.8% at end-2013. RATING SENSITIVITIES - IDRs, National Ratings and VRs CBF's ratings have limited upside potential because of the structural constraints on its business model. Weakened loss absorption capacity reflected in any notable decline in its equity base and/or capitalisation would lead to a downgrade. Any deterioration in asset quality, possibly from excessive risk-taking, could also lead to negative rating action. That said, Fitch views both scenarios as unlikely in the near term. A merger with its largest shareholder, Industrial Bank of Taiwan, is likely to have a negative impact on CBF's ratings, because the latter has a weaker risk profile. Such a merger appears increasingly likely over the next two years. KEY RATING DRIVERS AND SENSITIVITIES - SR and SRF CBF's Support Rating (SR) and Support Rating Floor (SRF) reflect the limited probability of government support, if needed. The SR and SRF are potentially sensitive to changes in assumptions around the propensity or ability of government to provide timely support to CBF. This would most likely be manifested in a change to Taiwan's sovereign rating (A+/Stable). Established in 1978, CBF is Taiwan's third-largest bills finance company, with a 17.9% of market share of guarantees at end-2013. The full list of rating actions follows: Long-Term IDR affirmed at 'BBB'; Outlook Stable Short-Term IDR affirmed at 'F3' National Long-Term Rating affirmed at 'A+(twn)'; Outlook Stable National Short-Term Rating affirmed at 'F1(twn)' Viability Rating affirmed at 'bbb' Support Rating affirmed at '4' Support Rating Floor affirmed at B+' Contacts: Primary Analyst Jack Chiu Associate Director +886 2 8175 7606 Fitch Ratings Limited, Taiwan branch Suite 1306, 13F, 205, Tun Hwa N. Rd., Taipei Secondary Analyst Cherry Huang Director +886 2 8175 7603 Committee Chairperson Tim Roche Senior Director +61 3 8256 0310 Media Relations: Leslie Tan, Singapore, Tel: +65 67 96 7234, Email: leslie.tan@fitchratings.com; Wai-Lun Wan, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2263 9935, Email: wailun.wan@fitchratings.com. Note to editors: Fitch's National ratings provide a relative measure of creditworthiness for rated entities in countries with relatively low international sovereign ratings and where there is demand for such ratings. The best risk within a country is rated 'AAA' and other credits are rated only relative to this risk. National ratings are designed for use mainly by local investors in local markets and are signified by the addition of an identifier for the country concerned, such as 'AAA(twn)' for National ratings in Taiwan. Specific letter grades are not therefore internationally comparable. Additional information is available at www.fitchratings.com. Applicable criteria, 'Global Financial Institutions Rating Criteria', dated 15 August 2012, 'National Scale Ratings Criteria', dated 30 October 2013, and 'Finance and Leasing Companies Criteria', dated 11 December 2012, are available at www.fitchratings.com. Applicable Criteria and Related Research: Global Financial Institutions Rating Criteria here National Scale Ratings Criteria here Finance and Leasing Companies Criteria here Additional Disclosure Solicitation Status 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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