Fitch: Santander First Puerto Rico Funds Get New Management; Notes Ratings Stable

NEW YORK--()--Following Paul Hopgood and Jaime Pandal's departure on Sept. 25, 2014, Santander Asset Management, LLC (SAM) has successfully implemented its business continuity plan for interim portfolio management support and rebuilding of the investment team that oversees 11 Puerto Rico closed-end funds issuing Fitch-rated notes. Fitch does not expect any change in the investment process or portfolio strategy as a result. See list of affected funds at the end of this press release.

SAM hired new talent to complement existing staff who have returned to manage the investment processes. Dennis Williams, who served in various portfolio management and product development functions at SAM since 2000, has returned as Interim Chief Investment Officer. Jesus Mattei, portfolio manager since 2011, continues to oversee investment decisions and will be joined by a new hire over the coming weeks to support day-to-day responsibilities. SAM has also hired a senior portfolio analyst, Cristina Canellas, and promoted a portfolio analyst Alberto Espanol to bring the total team count to six.

Despite the staff turnover, SAM assets remained stable. The manager's closed-end fund discounts remain mostly unchanged, open-end funds experienced minimal outflows, and institutional account outflows were larger but also immaterial. Fitch will continue to maintain active dialogue with SAM during this stage of transition but does not expect any rating actions as a result.

SAM Closed-End Funds with Fitch-Rated Note Programs:

--First Puerto Rico AAA Target Maturity Fund I

--First Puerto Rico AAA Target Maturity Fund II

--First Puerto Rico Target Maturity Income Opportunities Fund I

--First Puerto Rico Target Maturity Income Opportunities Fund II

--First Puerto Rico Tax-Advantaged Target Maturity Fund I

--First Puerto Rico Tax-Advantaged Target Maturity Fund II

--First Puerto Rico Tax-Exempt Fund

--First Puerto Rico Tax-Exempt Target Maturity Fund II

--First Puerto Rico Tax-Exempt Target Maturity Fund III

--First Puerto Rico Tax-Exempt Target Maturity Fund IV

--First Puerto Rico Tax-Exempt Target Maturity Fund V

For additional information about Fitch rating guidelines applicable to debt and preferred stock issued by closed-end funds, please review the criteria referenced below, which can be found on Fitch's web site at 'www.fitchratings.com'.

Opt-in to receive Fitch's forthcoming research on closed-end funds:

http://pages.fitchemail.fitchratings.com/FAMCEFBlankOptin/

Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'.

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

--'Rating Puerto Rico Closed-End Fund Debt and Preferred Stock' (September 2014);

--Big Changes for Puerto Rico Bond Market (Shift to New Investors Creates Bifurcated Trades) (August 2014)

--Fitch: Pimco Closed-End Funds Get New Management; Preferred Ratings Stable (October 2014)

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

Rating Puerto Rico Closed-End Fund Debt and Preferred Stock

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=765548

ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTP://FITCHRATINGS.COM/UNDERSTANDINGCREDITRATINGS. 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.

Contacts

Fitch Ratings
Yuriy Layvand, CFA
Director
Fund and Asset Management
+1 212 908-9191
Fitch Ratings, Inc.
33 Whitehall
New York, NY 10004
or
Ian Rasmussen
Senior Director
Fund and Asset Management
+1-212-908-0232
or
Media Relations
Brian Bertsch, +1 212-908-0549
brian.bertsch@fitchratings.com

Contacts

Fitch Ratings
Yuriy Layvand, CFA
Director
Fund and Asset Management
+1 212 908-9191
Fitch Ratings, Inc.
33 Whitehall
New York, NY 10004
or
Ian Rasmussen
Senior Director
Fund and Asset Management
+1-212-908-0232
or
Media Relations
Brian Bertsch, +1 212-908-0549
brian.bertsch@fitchratings.com