OREANDA-NEWS. May 12, 2008. Moody's Investors Service downgraded the long-term bank deposit and unsecured debt ratings of Temirbank to Ba3 from Ba2. The E+ bank financial strength rating ("BFSR") and Not Prime short-term ratings were affirmed. The outlook on all of the bank's ratings is now stable, reported the press-centre of KASE.

Moody's said that the downgrade of Temirbank's long-term deposit and debt ratings has been prompted by a weakening of the BFSR within the E+ category and Moody's assessment that the likelihood of Temirbank enjoying parental support in case of need has declined as a result of the plans of BTA Bank (Ba1/D-) to sell its controlling stake in the bank.

According to Moody's, the weakened BFSR - which now maps to a baseline credit assessment of B2 compared to B1 previously - reflects the rapidly growing level of non-performing loans in the bank's retail portfolio as well as the notable deterioration in the bank's corporate loan portfolio. The substantial decline in residential real estate prices and problems in Kazakhstan's construction sector have considerably constrained the overall quality of the bank's loan portfolio and resulted in the significant growth of NPLs over the recent period.

In Moody's opinion, the bank's provision coverage is not adequate for the level of asset deterioration that could negatively affect the bank's capital and profitability in the future. Temirbank's liquidity profile is also under pressure given the recent outflow of customer deposits and heavy reliance on international funding, which is also weighing on the bank's performance and franchise. Furthermore, Moody's notes that - despite other Kazakh banks experiencing a similar situation with regard to their loan portfolios - Temirbank's exposure to the rapidly deteriorating real estate and construction sector relative to its capital is considered one of the highest in the market. This therefore affects Temirbank's financial position more significantly than other financial institutions in the country.

In addition to the weakened BFSR, the downgrade of the bank's deposits and debt ratings has also been prompted by the recently announced plans of Temirbank's controlling shareholder BTA Bank to sell its stake in the bank. However, Moody's notes that, given BTA Bank's controlling stake in Temirbank's capital, the deposit ratings of Temirbank still benefit from a parental support, as a result of which they enjoy a two-notch uplift from the bank's baseline credit assessment.

The E+ BFSR continues to reflect the bank's entrenched market franchise in retail lending, adequate capitalization and relatively wide territorial coverage across the country. However, it is constrained by the weak asset quality in both the retail and corporate loan portfolios, weakening profitability and a high dependence on international funding given the low likelihood of refinancing in the medium term negatively affecting the bank's franchise and profitability.

Moody's notes that a downgrade of the bank's BFSR is unlikely in the medium term given the high capital cushion and its entrenched position in the retail lending segment. However, a further deterioration in asset quality that weighed significantly on the bank's capitalization level and profitability could exert additional pressure on Temirbank's BFSR. An upgrade of Temirbank's BFSR and debt and deposit ratings is also highly unlikely in the medium term given the continuing deterioration in asset quality and the ongoing pressure on liquidity.

The following ratings were downgraded:
Long-term bank deposits - to Ba3 from Ba2
Senior unsecured debt - to Ba3 from Ba2

Temir Capital B.V.
Senior unsecured debt - to Ba3 from Ba2
Subordinated debt - to B1 from Ba3

The following ratings were affirmed:
Short-term bank deposits - Not Prime
Bank Financial Strength Rating - E+

Temirbank, which is headquartered in Almaty, Kazakhstan, had assets of KZT334 billion (US\\$2.76 billion) at end-2007.