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CNA - Capital Intelligence affirms Hellenic Bank's ratings maintaining a stable outlook




CNA - CYPRUS/Nicosia - Rating agency, Capital Intelligence (CI) affirmed Hellenic Bank’s Long-Term Foreign Currency Rating (LT FCR) and Short-Term Foreign Currency Rating (ST FCR) at ‘BB-’ and ‘B’, respectively, maintaining a stable outlook.

The Limassol-based rating agency said the stable outlook indicates the ratings are unlikely to change over the next 12 months. “While most of the Bank’s financial metrics significantly improved following the acquisition of CCB (and continue to improve), the large stock of NPEs and the uncertainties related to the effects of Covid-19 on both asset quality and profitability are likely to continue to constrain the ratings,” the agency added.

According to Capital Intelligence, funding and liquidity remains Hellenic Bank’s “strongest credit strength”, noting that bank “enjoys a well-diversified and stable retail customer deposit base and has very little reliance on wholesale funding of any type.”

It adds however that while headline ratios are strong and capital quality is good “the ratio of unprovided non-performing exposures (NPEs) to equity remains high, albeit on a downward path.”

But it points out that part of the gross NPEs benefit from what is tantamount to a 90% government guarantee, noting that this accounts for why HB can afford to hold lower loan loss reserves (LLR) than would otherwise be the case. As part of the acquisition of the state-owned Cooperative Cyprus Bank, Hellenic Bank was given an asset protection scheme that guarantees the loans transferred to Hellenic from the former CCB.

The agency also describes the bank’s weak profitability as an additional credit challenge, noting that “at the net level, this reflects the high cost of credit and the large proportion of operating profit consumed by provisioning.”

“However, profitability is also modest at the operating level. Net interest income is impacted by the carry cost of unprovided NPEs and by the lower yields on investment securities; despite this the share of operating income provided by non-interest income remains low,” the agency adds.

“The main headwinds are however weak income generation overall coupled with a large cost base and the resulting high cost-income ratio,” CI notes pointing out that “there are however opportunities going forward to increase fee and commission income by cross-selling non-credit products to the ex-CCB portion of the customer base as that predecessor bank had a very limited offering of insurance and investment products.”

CNA/GS/AAR/2020
ENDS, CYPRUS NEWS AGENCY

________________________________________

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Tel. 22556000, Fax. 22556100, email:news@cna.org.cy, website: www.cna.org.cy



Agency : CNA

Date : 2020-11-28 10:07:53







 

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