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Fitch downgrades SA's big banks

Jan 16 2013 12:46

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Johannesburg - Fitch Ratings has downgraded the Viability Ratings of South Africa’s major banks by one notch following the recent downgrade of the country's sovereign rating.

The banks affected are Absa Bank Limited‚ FirstRand Bank Limited‚ Investec Bank Limited‚ Nedbank Limited and The Standard Bank of South Africa Limited (SBSA) and their respective rated holding companies.

The Long-term IDRs of FirstRand‚ Nedbank and SBSA have been downgraded to 'BBB' from 'BBB+' and Investec's IDR has been downgraded to 'BBB-' from 'BBB'.

Fitch said the downgrade of the sovereign had also resulted in a re-calibration of the South African National Rating Scale‚ which has affected several other institutions in the country.

In December, Moody's credit rating agency also lowered its outlook for banks to "negative" from "stable" citing their overexposure to government debt, the deteriorating economic outlook and liquidity challenges.

It warned banks that weak economic growth in tandem with their exposure to government securities posed a risk of serious trouble.

Moody's forecast modest economic growth of 3% for 2013, describing the operating environment for South Africa's banks as "challenging".

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