Fitch Revises Banreservas and BHD Leon's Outlook to Positive; Affirms 'B+' Ratings

NEW YORK--()--Fitch Ratings has today affirmed Banco de Reservas de la Republica Dominicana, Banco de Servicios Multiples (Banreservas), and Banco Multiple BHD Leon, S.A.'s (BHD Leon) long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) at 'B+'. The Rating Outlooks on the Long-Term IDRs were revised to Positive from Stable.

These actions follow Fitch's revision of the Dominican Republic's sovereign Rating Outlook to Positive from Stable, reflecting the continued favorable economic performance relative to peers, the reduction of external vulnerabilities, and progress on gradual fiscal consolidation. For additional details, see 'Fitch Revises Dominican Republic's Outlook to Positive; Affirms 'B+' Ratings', available on www.fitchratings.com. Fitch expects the current improvement in the Dominican operating environment to benefit the financial profiles of the banks.

KEY RATING DRIVERS

IDRs AND VRs

Banreservas' IDRs ratings reflect Fitch's expectations of the support the bank would receive from its sole shareholder, the Dominican government (IDR rated 'B+'/Positive Outlook), if needed. The bank's Viability Rating (VR) reflects its weak, albeit improving capitalization, and still-high asset concentrations. Banreservas' VR also considers trends in profitability and private sector loan quality.

BHD Leon's VR, or standalone creditworthiness, drives its long-term IDR. The bank's VR is highly influenced by the operating environment and asset quality. Additionally, BHD Leon's VR reflects its resilient profitability, adequate capitalization, reserve cushion, improving funding base, and strengthened franchise.

SUPPORT AND SUPPORT RATING FLOOR

Banreservas' systemic importance - its role as the government's main paying agent and provider of domestic loans - results in an equalization of its Support Rating Floor with the sovereign's LT IDR of 'B+'. Additionally, Fitch believes the government's willingness to support Banreservas should it be required is substantial given its 100% stake in the bank. However, the Dominican Republic's speculative-grade rating limits the sovereign's capacity of support, resulting in a Support rating of '4'.

Despite BHD Leon's systemic importance, the government's inconsistent history of banking sector support for private sector institutions and the sovereign's speculative-grade rating result in a Support Floor of 'NF' and a Support Rating of '5'.

SUBORDINATED DEBT

Banreservas' international subordinated note rating is one notch below its supported IDR, reflecting one notch for loss severity, but no notches for incremental non-performance risk relative to the bank's IDR. In Fitch's view, given the gone concern characteristics of the security, the anchor rating is the IDR, even though there is no explicit government guarantee on the security. According to Fitch's methodology, the subordinated notes do not receive equity credit.

RATING SENSITIVITIES

IDRS AND VRs

Banreservas' IDRs are sensitive to a change in Fitch's assumptions on potential sovereign support. Changes in the IDRs are also contingent on sovereign rating actions.

A stabilization of private sector loan quality indicators, a stronger capital base, as well as a more established track record of meeting strategic objectives could lead to an upgrade of the Banreservas' VR. An unexpected deterioration in asset quality or profitability, or dividend disbursements to the government that pressures Banreservas' equity/assets ratio below 5.5%, could trigger a downgrade of its viability rating.

BHD Leon's IDRs and VRs are contingent upon actions on the Dominican Republic's sovereign ratings, as its ratings are constrained by the sovereign's IDRs. If the bank sustains its current strong financial performance and adequate capitalization, this would be positive for BHDL's IDRs in the event of a sovereign upgrade. A deterioration in profitability or asset quality metrics that causes the bank's Fitch core capital to risk-weighted assets ratio to fall below 8% would be negative for creditworthiness.

SUPPORT AND SUPPORT RATING FLOOR

The SRs and SRFs for both banks are potentially sensitive to any change in assumptions around the propensity or ability of the Dominican government to provide timely support. In the case of Banreservas, this might arise in the event of a sovereign rating action.

SUBORDINATED DEBT

Banreservas' subordinated debt rating is sensitive to the same considerations that affect the banks IDR.

Fitch has taken the following rating actions:

Banreservas

--Foreign and local currency IDRs 'B+'; Outlook Revised to Positive from Stable;

--Short-term foreign and local currency IDRs affirmed at 'B';

--Viability Rating affirmed at 'b';

--Support Rating affirmed at '4';

--Support Floor affirmed at 'B+';

--Long-term subordinated notes affirmed at 'B'.

BHD Leon

--Foreign and local currency long-term IDR 'B+', Outlook Revised to Positive from Stable

--Foreign and local currency short term IDR affirmed at 'B';

--Viability Rating affirmed at 'b+';

--Support Rating affirmed at '5';

--Support Floor Rating affirmed at 'NF'.

These ratings were unaffected:

Banreservas

--National long-term rating 'AA+(dom)'; Outlook Stable;

--National short-term rating 'F1+(dom)';

--National subordinated debt rating 'AA(dom)'.

BHD Leon

--Long-term National rating 'AA+(dom)'; Outlook Stable;

--Short-term National rating 'F1+(dom)'.

Additional information is available on www.fitchratings.com

Applicable Criteria

Global Bank Rating Criteria (pub. 20 Mar 2015)

https://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=863501

Additional Disclosures

Dodd-Frank Rating Information Disclosure Form

https://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/press_releases/content/ridf_frame.cfm?pr_id=996254

Solicitation Status

https://www.fitchratings.com/gws/en/disclosure/solicitation?pr_id=996254

Endorsement Policy

https://www.fitchratings.com/jsp/creditdesk/PolicyRegulation.faces?context=2&detail=31

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Contacts

Fitch Ratings
Primary Analyst
Theresa Paiz-Fredel
Senior Director
+1-212-908-0534
Fitch Ratings, Inc.
33 Whitehall Street
New York, NY 10004
or
Secondary Analyst
Larisa Arteaga
Director
+1-809-563-2481
or
Committee Chairperson
Rene Medrano
Senior Director
+503-2516-6610
or
Media Relations:
Alyssa Castelli, +1-212-908-0540
alyssa.castelli@fitchratings.com

Contacts

Fitch Ratings
Primary Analyst
Theresa Paiz-Fredel
Senior Director
+1-212-908-0534
Fitch Ratings, Inc.
33 Whitehall Street
New York, NY 10004
or
Secondary Analyst
Larisa Arteaga
Director
+1-809-563-2481
or
Committee Chairperson
Rene Medrano
Senior Director
+503-2516-6610
or
Media Relations:
Alyssa Castelli, +1-212-908-0540
alyssa.castelli@fitchratings.com