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April 11 (Reuters) - (The following statement was released by the rating agency)
Fitch Ratings has affirmed Morocco-based Societe Generale Marocaine de Banques' (SGMB) National Long-term rating at 'AAA(mar)' with Stable Outlook, Short-term rating at 'F1+(mar)' and Support Rating at '2'.
SGMB's ratings are based on support from its majority (56.9%) shareholder Societe Generale (SG; 'A+'/Negative/'F1+'). Fitch believes that SG would have a very high propensity to support SGMB, given SG's strong capacity, history of support to group entities and the strategic importance of the Mediterranean Basin retail markets for SG. SG's IDRs are based on potential support available from the French state, in case of need. In Fitch's view, this support would flow through to SGMB, given the strategic importance of the Moroccan subsidiary, whereas not doing so would materially damage its parent's reputation. However, SGMB's Support Rating is ultimately constrained by Morocco's Country Ceiling of 'BBB'.
In Fitch's view, SG remains committed to SGMB and the development of retail banking in North Africa. SGMB is SG's largest subsidiary in North Africa. SG holds a long-standing controlling stake in SGMB and Fitch does not foresee a reduction in SG's presence in Morocco, which has proved politically and economically resilient through 2012. SGMB is consistently profitable and has a solid presence in the Moroccan retail market (fourth-largest bank by total assets; 8% of deposits). Moreover, SGMB is strongly integrated into SG. The latter tightly controls its Moroccan subsidiary, at which senior management responsibilities are broadly shared with SG group members. SG oversees SGMB's credit, country, market, operational and liquidity risks, and the subsidiary benefits greatly from SG's organisation, procedures, systems and tools.
SGMB's Support Rating could be downgraded if Morocco's Country Ceiling was downgraded by at least two notches.
Downside risk to SGMB's National and Support Ratings would arise from reduced integration with, strategic importance to, or control from SG or from a severe downgrade of SG's Long-Term IDR, both of which Fitch views as unlikely.