Standard and Poor’s have again downgraded the Irish banks. The Irish Times story about this is here. The S&P Press releases are here (need to sign up but it’s free.) The reasons for the downgrade of AIB are summarised as follows:
“The negative outlook reflects our view that the quantum and timing of equity raised through recapitalization may not be sufficient to support an ‘A-‘ rating, combined with our expectation of significant losses from the remaining loan book and weak operating income as a result of the challenging economic environment,” said Ms. Curtin.
Negative rating action could occur if we consider that AIB’s recapitalization plans for 2010 are insufficient to adequately recapitalize the bank by our measures or are unlikely to be fully executed in 2010. Negative rating action could also occur if earnings pressures exceed our base-case expectations. The outlook could be revised to stable if there was reduced uncertainty regarding AIB’s ability to restore its capital position to an adequate level in the near term, and greater clarity on the strategic direction of the bank and scope of restructuring.
In relation to Bank of Ireland, the press release states:
“The rating action reflects our opinion of BOI’s prospects in light of our updated view on economic and industry risk in the bank’s core markets, together with our expectations regarding future credit losses,” said Standard & Poor’s credit analyst Giles Edwards.
It also factors in our view of the likely impact of its participation in Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) and associated restructuring and capital raising. We have lowered the ratings due to our view that the environment will remain challenging over the medium term and BOI’s financial profile will be weaker than we had previously expected, with capital expected to be only adequate by our measures and the bank continuing to make losses through 2011.
S&P’s concerns about future loan losses and capital adequacy of both the major Irish banks are likely to be shared by many potential private equity investors.