Tag Archives: ratings

S&P: Jamaica Rating Revised To ‘SD’ Due To Domestic Debt Exchange Program

A not unexpected move from Standard & Poor’s, which has been deeply negative on Jamaica for some time now. Rival rating agency Fitch issued a similar downgrade, cutting the island’s local currency rating to ‘C’ from ‘CCC” on Thursday.

It’s not all bad news though – the debt exchange that triggered the rating actions will significantly improve Jamaica’s fiscal footing, and affects virtually all of the country’s J$ denominated outstanding debt.
Continue reading S&P: Jamaica Rating Revised To ‘SD’ Due To Domestic Debt Exchange Program

Another blow for Jamaica from S&P

Hot on the heels of the decision by Standard & Poor’s to slash Jamaica’s sovereign rating comes this announcement from the rating agency:

S&P: National Commercial Bank Jamaica Counterparty Credit Rating Lowered To ‘CCC’; Survivability Assessment Lowered To ‘B’

* On Nov. 2, 2009, we lowered the long-term sovereign rating on Jamaica to ‘CCC’ from ‘CCC+’.
* We are lowering our ratings on NCB, including the long-term counterparty credit rating, to ‘CCC’ from ‘CCC+’. We are also lowering our survivability assessment on NCB to ‘B’ from ‘B+’.
* The outlook on NCB remains negative, mirroring that on Jamaica, as a result of the bank’s concentration in government debt securities and loans to public entities in the country.

MEXICO CITY Nov. 4, 2009–Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said today that it lowered its ratings on National Commercial Bank Jamaica Ltd. (NCB), including the long-term counterparty credit rating, to ‘CCC’ from ‘CCC+’. At the same time, we lowered our survivability assessment on NCB to ‘B’ from ‘B+’, as assigned on Aug. 6, 2009. The outlook is negative.

[In rating agency speak, the survivability assessment is “a current opinion on the likelihood that over the medium-term, a bank will either directly or through a successor organization, remain in operation, regardless of whether it is solvent or insolvent, paying all of its obligations on a timely basis or not.”

Moreover: “A relatively low survivability assessment does not constitute an opinion by Standard & Poor’s that a particular bank is likely to fail; rather it indicates a vulnerability to adverse circumstances which could affect the bank’s ability to meet its financial obligations on a timely basis, without special circumstances which would clearly enhance the likelihood that it would continue to operate in such an event. ”

And here’s what S&P means by a “B” rating in this area: “A bank with a survivability assessment of ‘B’ is VULNERABLE. Adverse business, financial or economic conditions will likely impair the bank’s ability to maintain operations in which case the bank may become subject to regulatory intervention.”]

The rating action followed the downgrade of the long-term sovereign credit rating on Jamaica (CCC/Negative/C) to ‘CCC’ from ‘CCC+’.

“NCB has a very large exposure to Jamaican sovereign-debt securities and loans to public entities,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Alfredo Calvo. “Also, Jamaica’s deteriorating economic situation and the more-challenging conditions for the Jamaican banking system will continue to pressure the financial performance of the bank.”

The action on the survivability assessment was based on the downgrade of NCB and our view that vulnerabilities in the government’s debt profile have grown significantly from previous years, narrowing the government’s capacity to support the bank in times of stress.

However, we are still maintaining our survivability assessment at three notches higher than the counterparty credit rating on NCB. This reflects our continuing expectation that the government could give certain assistance to the bank if needed because of NCB’s significant market share in the country, adequate financial performance, and large branch network and deposit base.

If the liquidity and market share of the bank shrink significantly, we could further adjust our survivability assessment.

The ratings on NCB are limited by the bank’s large exposure to Jamaica’s government; greater loan concentration than peers; operation within a relatively small and nondiversified economy with high debt; and the more challenging environment for the Jamaican banking system.

However, the bank’s leading market presence in the Jamaican banking system, adequate but pressured performance under more-challenging conditions, and consistent improvements in its operating performance support the rating.

Some good-ish macroeconomic news for T&T

My day job has kept me so busy I haven’t yet had time to read beyond the headlines of the latest budget, but it seems that whatever Karen Nunez-Tesheira put together pleased Standard & Poor’s. Although the devil, as ever, is in the details.

The rating agency issued the following statement on Monday (any emphasis mine, as are the bracketed comments):

Republic of Trinidad and Tobago Ratings Taken Off CreditWatch And Affirmed; Outlook Stable

(CreditWatch negative is ratings agency speak for “we’re concerned about this country, and we may lower our rating on it in the not-too-distant future, unless its economics improves)

–Although Trinidad and Tobago’s bailout of the CL Financial Group could cost up to 6% of expected 2009 GDP, its solid fiscal and external position support its policy flexibility.

–In addition, the government’s debt profile and burden limit external vulnerabilities.

–As a result, we have taken the ratings off CreditWatch negative, affirmed them, and assigned a stable outlook.

NEW YORK, Sept. 14, 2009–Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services said today that it affirmed its ‘A/A-1’ foreign-currency and ‘A+/A-1’ local-currency sovereign credit ratings on the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Standard & Poor’s also said that it removed these ratings from CreditWatch, where they were placed on Feb. 3, 2009, with negative implications.

The outlook is stable.

In addition, Standard & Poor’s affirmed its ‘AA’ transfer and convertibility risk assessment on the republic.

“We removed these ratings from CreditWatch after evaluating the possible consequences and the cost associated with the government bailout of one of Trinidad’s largest financial conglomerate: the CL Financial Group,” explained Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Roberto Sifon-Arevalo. “Assuming no recovery from any asset sales, we estimate a potential gross loss for the government of about TT$9 billion, which is 6% of expected 2009 GDP.” At the same time, Trinidad and Tobago’s solid fiscal profile, which has resulted from several years of high-energy prices, gives the government the fiscal and external flexibility needed to manage this potential debt burden as well as the current international financial crisis without materially weakening public finances.

The government is responding to these shocks through countercyclical fiscal measures. In this context, Standard & Poor’s expects the general government will have a deficit of 4.5% of GDP in 2009, down from a surplus of 6.3% of GDP in 2008. In 2010, we expect the deficit to be at about 3.5% of GDP as the government continues with its public infrastructure program aimed to mitigate the impact of the world economic crisis in Trinidad.

Standard & Poor’s does not expect the government to contribute nor tap into the Heritage and Stabilization Fund (HSF) to finance the expected deficit in 2009 or in 2010, keeping the fund’s balance at about 11% of 2009 GDP. We believe that the government will finance the deficit with debt, mostly domestic. As a result, we also expect net general government debt to reach 7% of GDP in 2009 and 12% in 2010, which compares favorably with 28% and 31% for the medians of ‘A’ rated peers in the same respective periods.

Improvements in transparency, governance, and regulation in the financial industry–and among public-sector enterprises, in particular–could further strengthen Trinidad and Tobago’s creditworthiness over the medium term,” Mr. Sifon-Arevalo added. “Conversely, a higher-than-expected fiscal deterioration because of higher-than-forecasted costs associated with the government bailout of CLFG as well as slippages in the pace of restructuring government-owned entities could lead to an unfavorable rating action.”

Are you listening, Mr Manning?