MOODY’S UPGRADES EFG EUROBANK ERGASIAS’ (GREECE) LONG-TERM AND FINANCIAL STRENGTH RATINGS TO A2/C+ FROM A3/C; PRIME-1 SHORT-TERM RATINGS ARE UNCHANGED.
Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the long-term ratings of EFG Eurobank Ergasias SA (EFG) to A2 from A3 and its Financial Strength Rating to C+ from C. The bank’s Prime-1 short-term ratings remain unchanged. Moody’s explains that the upgrade reflects EFG’s solid market positioning in its domestic market and its strong financial fundamentals. Through organic growth and a number of successfully executed acquisitions, EFG is now the third-largest bank in Greece. The bank’s strong franchise is underpinned by major shares in high-margin sectors exhibiting good growth potential, such as consumer credit, mortgage lending, small and medium-sized enterprises and asset management. Furthermore, through its subsidiary EFG Telesis Finance, the bank is one of the strongest players in the Greek financial markets, with leading market shares in brokerage and investment banking. Moody’s notes that EFG is among the most professionally managed banks in Greece, and is recognised for offering sophisticated, innovative products and services. These attributes, together with the support from the Latsis family-controlled EFG Bank European Financial Group, represent sources of strength that, in Moody’s view, give the bank an edge over its main competitors. The ratings upgrade is also based on the bank’s strong financial fundamentals, adds Moody’s. EFG enjoys one of the highest recurring earning powers among Greek banks, with a relatively low reliance on volatile trading income. Though declining significantly during the last few years, EFG’s capital adequacy ratio remains at a strong level of 11.7%, comprised wholly of Tier 1 capital. Despite its rapidly growing loan portfolio and its expansion in more risky segments, EFG’s asset quality remains satisfactory; and with a ratio of non-performing loans to gross loans of about 3.6%, it compares well with peers. The following ratings were upgraded: EFG Eurobank Ergasias SA: long-term foreign currency deposit rating to A2 from A3; bank financial strength to C+ from C. EFG Hellas (Cayman Islands) Limited: Senior unsecured debt to A2 from A3; Subordinated debt to A3 from Baa1. EFG Hellas Plc: Senior unsecured debt to A2 from A3; Subordinated debt to A2 from A3.
Headquartered in Athens, Greece, EFG Eurobank Ergasias SA had total assets of EUR25.3 billion (under IAS) at year-end December 2002.