Fitch Affirms Webster Financial Corp.'s IDRs at 'BBB/F2' Following Mid-Tier Regional Peer Review

  Fitch Affirms Webster Financial Corp.'s IDRs at 'BBB/F2' Following Mid-Tier
  Regional Peer Review

Business Wire

NEW YORK -- February 14, 2013

Fitch Ratings has affirmed the long-term and short-term Issuer Default Ratings
(IDRs) of Webster Financial Corporation and its subsidiaries at 'BBB/F2'. The
Outlook remains Stable. A full list of ratings follows at the end of this
release.

Fitch reviewed Webster Financial Corporation as part of a peer review that
included 16 mid-tier regional banks. The banks in the peer review include:
Associated Banc-Corp., Bank of Hawaii Corporation, BOK Financial Corporation,
Cathay General Bancorp, Cullen/Frost Bankers, Inc., East West Bancorp, Inc.,
First Horizon National Corporation, First National of Nebraska, Inc., First
Niagara Financial Group, Inc., Fulton Financial Corporation, Hancock Holding
Company, People's United Financial, Inc., Synovus Financial Corp., TCF
Financial Corporation, UMB Financial Corp., Webster Financial Corporation.
Refer to the release titled 'Fitch Takes Rating Actions on Its Mid-Tier
Regional Bank Group Following Industry Peer Review' for a discussion of rating
actions taken on the entire mid-tier regional bank group.

The mid-tier regional group is comprised of banks with total assets ranging
from $10 billion to $36 billion. IDRs for this group is relatively dispersed
with a low of 'BB-' and a high of 'A+'. Mid-tier regional banks typically lag
their large regional bank counterparts by asset size, geographic footprint and
product/revenue diversification. As such mid-tier regional banks are more
susceptible to idiosyncratic risks such as geographic or single name
concentrations.

Fitch's mid-tier regional bank group has fairly homogenous business
strategies. The institutions are mostly reliant on spread income from loans
and investments. With limited opportunity to improve fee-based income in the
near term, Fitch expects that mid-tier banks will continue to face greater
earnings headwinds in 2013 than larger institutions with greater revenue
diversification.

Share repurchases is common theme amongst the mid-tier banks. As mid-tier
banks face earnings headwinds, institutions have begun repurchasing common
shares to improve shareholder returns. Fitch anticipates continued repurchase
activity in 2013 as return on equity lags historical norms for the group.

In addition to share repurchases, Fitch has observed that some mid-tier banks
have looked to their investment portfolio to improve returns. Most notably,
CLOs and CMBS have become more popular amongst mid-tier banks. Although such
securities are beneficial to yields and returns, Fitch notes that such
purchases can be a negative ratings driver if the risks are not properly
measured, monitored and controlled.

Asset quality continues to improve throughout the banking sector. Both
nonperforming assets (NPAs) and net charge-offs (NCOs) are down significantly
year over year. Fitch anticipates further asset quality improvement as
nonperforming loan (NPL) inflow slows. Reserve levels have also declined as
asset quality improves, which has been beneficial to earnings in 2012. Fitch
expects further reserve releases in 2013 but at a slower pace.

RATING ACTION AND RATIONALE

Webster Financial Corporation's (Webster) ratings were affirmed at 'BBB'. The
Outlook remains Stable. The affirmation is supported by Webster's improving
profitability and asset quality trends in line with Fitch's expectations. The
Stable Outlook reflects Fitch's view that Webster's asset quality measures
will continue to improve in the near term, credit losses will remain
manageable and tangible common equity will not be reduced by more than 25
basis points (bps) from third quarter 2012 levels.

RATING DRIVERS AND SENSITIVITIES - IDRs and VRs

Webster's tangible common capital ratio is near the lower end of its rated
peers. At current levels, Fitch views Webster's capitalization as a constraint
for further positive ratings action. Conversely, , stagnant or deteriorating
asset quality metrics such as NPAs or charge off rates could result in
negative ratings pressure.

RATING DRIVERS AND SENSITIVITIES - Support Ratings and Support Floor Ratings:

All of the mid-tier regional banks in the peer group have Support Ratings of
'5' and Support Floor Ratings of 'NF'. In Fitch's view, the mid-tier banks are
not considered systemically important and therefore, Fitch believes the
probability of support is unlikely. IDRs and VRs do not incorporate any
government support for any of the banks in the mid-tier regional bank peer
group.

RATING DRIVERS AND SENSITIVITIES - Subordinated Debt and Other Hybrid
Securities:

Subordinated debt and hybrid capital instruments issued by the banks are
notched down from the issuers' VRs in accordance with Fitch's assessment of
each instrument's respective non-performance and relative loss severity risk
profiles, which vary considerably. The ratings of subordinated debt and hybrid
securities are sensitive to any change in the banks' VRs or to changes in the
banks' propensity to make coupon payments that are permitted but not
compulsory under the instruments' documentation.

RATING DRIVERS AND SENSITIVITIES - Holding Company:

All of the entities reviewed in the mid-tier regional bank group have a bank
holding company structure with the bank as the main subsidiary. All
subsidiaries are considered core to parent holding company supporting
equalized ratings between bank subsidiaries and bank holding companies. IDRs
and VRs are equalized with those of its operating companies and banks
reflecting its role as the bank holding company, which is mandated in the U.S.
to act as a source of strength for its bank subsidiaries.

RATING DRIVERS AND SENSITIVITIES - Subsidiary and Affiliated Company Rating:

All of the entities reviewed in the mid-tier regional bank group factor in a
high probability of support from parent institutions to its subsidiaries. This
reflects the fact that performing parent banks have very rarely allowed
subsidiaries to default. It also considers the high level of integration,
brand, management, financial and reputational incentives to avoid subsidiary
defaults.

Fitch has affirmed the following ratings:

Webster Financial Corporation

--Long-term IDR at 'BBB', Stable Outlook;

--Senior unsecured at 'BBB';

--Viability Rating at 'bbb';

--Preferred Stock at 'B+'

--Short-term IDR at 'F2';

--Support at '5';

--Support Floor at 'NF'.

Webster Bank, NA

--Long-term IDR at 'BBB', Stable Outlook;

--Long-term deposits at 'BBB+';

--Viability Rating at 'bbb';

--Short-term IDR at 'F2';

--Short-term Deposits at 'F2';

--Support at '5';

--Support Floor at 'NF'

Additional information is available at 'www.fitchratings.com'. The ratings
above were unsolicited and have been provided by Fitch as a service to
investors.

In addition to the source(s) of information identified in Fitch's Master
Criteria, these actions were additionally informed by information provided by
the companies.

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

--'Risk Radar' (Jan. 16, 2013);

--'U.S. Banks: Rationalizing the Branch Network (Witness the Incredible
Shrinking Branch Network)' (Sept. 17, 2012);

--'U.S. Banks: Mortgage Representations and Warranties (Banks Increase
Reserves; Uncertainty Remains)' (Aug. 20, 2012)

--'Global Financial Institutions Rating Criteria' (Aug. 15, 2012);

--'Rating FI Subsidiaries and Holding Companies' (Aug. 10, 2012);

--'Treatment of Unrealized Losses in U.S. Bank Capital Rule Proposal
(Pro-Cyclical Capital Policy to Create Greater Capital Volatility for Banks)'
(Aug. 7, 2012);

--'Basel III: Return and Deleveraging Pressures' (May 17, 2012);

--'Assessing and Rating Bank Subordinated and Hybrid Securities' (Dec. 05,
2012).

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

Basel III: Return and Deleveraging Pressures

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=678273

Assessing and Rating Bank Subordinated and Hybrid Securities

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=695542

Treatment of Unrealized Losses in U.S. Bank Capital Rule Proposal
(Pro-Cyclical Capital Policy to Create Greater Capital Volatility for Banks)

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=685638

Risk Radar Update

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=699014

U.S. Banks: Rationalizing the Branch Network (Witness the Incredible Shrinking
Branch Network)

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=688330

U.S. Banks: Mortgage Representations and Warranties (Banks Increase Reserves;
Uncertainty Remains)

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=684038

Global Financial Institutions Rating Criteria

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=686181

Rating FI Subsidiaries and Holding Companies

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=679209

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Contact:

Fitch Ratings
Primary Analyst
Jaymin Berg, CPA, +1-212-908-0368
Director
Fitch Ratings, Inc.
One State Street Plaza
New York, NY 10004
or
Secondary Analyst
Joe Scott, +1-212-908-0624
Senior Director
or
Committee Chairperson
Joo-Yung Lee, +1-212-908-0560
Managing Director
or
Media Relations
Brian Bertsch, New York, +1-212-908-0549
brian.bertsch@fitchratings.com
 
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