Fitch Reviews HSBC Latin American Subsidiaries

  Fitch Reviews HSBC Latin American Subsidiaries

Business Wire

NEW YORK & BUENOS AIRES, Argentina -- May 16, 2013

Fitch Ratings has taken various rating actions on the Latin America
subsidiaries of HSBC Holdings plc (HSBC), following the May 15, 2013 review of
HSBC's Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) and Viability Rating (VR). The
rating actions on HSBC's Latin American subsidiaries differ across companies
and countries. A complete list of rating actions for each subsidiary follows
at the end of this press release. HSBC subsidiaries in Mexico were reviewed on
May 13, 2013.

On May 16, 2013, Fitch affirmed HSBC's Long-term IDR and VRs at 'AA-' and
'aa-', respectively. The Rating Outlook is Stable (see 'Fitch Affirms HSBC at
'AA-'; Outlook Stable', dated May 16, 2013, available at
www.fitchratings.com). The affirmation of HSBC's ratings reflects the
continuous strength of the group's global operations and in particular the
sound financial profile of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation
Limited (HKSB). HSBC's VR is primarily derived from its key entities' VRs to
take into account the group's subsidiary business model which is based on
maintaining self-sufficient entities. The standalone blend is combined with an
assessment of the group's quantitative and qualitative resources, which Fitch
believes to be material. In Fitch's view, soft factors such as the group's
conservative risk appetite, common policies, consistent procedures, stringent
monitoring, and refinancing capacity at group level contribute to lower
default risk for the group.

In Fitch's view, HSBC's ability and propensity to provide support to its Latin
American subsidiaries is strong; and support is expected to be provided if
required. Recent divesture announcements in Uruguay and Panama, however,
explain the current placement of the supported IDRs and National Scale ratings
of those subsidiaries on Rating Watch Negative. In the case of Chile and
Argentina, their ratings are notched down from the rating of the parent bank
depending on the assessment of its strategic importance under Fitch's rating
criteria. Last but not least, HSBC Mexican subsidiaries are considered by
Fitch as Strategically Important, as they operate in a fairly integrated
manner with the parent bank, are located in markets with good growth
prospects, and provide services and products aligned with those services and
products provided by the parent bank worldwide. As it is explained below, the
Rating Watch Negative of those subsidiaries waiting to be sold will be
resolved once the transactions in Panama and Uruguay are completed and the
assessment of the new capacity and propensity of support of new shareholders
is assessed.

Fitch has taken rating actions on the following HSBC subsidiaries:

HSBC BANK (CHILE)

The affirmation of HSBC Bank (Chile)'s Long-term IDR is in conjunction with
the affirmation of HSBC. HSBC Bank (Chile)'s IDRs are supported by HSBC,
primarily reflecting its importance to the group. As such, HSBC Bank (Chile)
IDRs will move in tandem with HSBC's. In Fitch's opinion, HSBC Bank (Chile) is
considered by Fitch as a subsidiary of limited importance for HSBC, because of
its small size within the group and in its local market. Therefore its IDRs
could be as much as two notches below the parent's. Fitch does not maintain a
VR on HSBC Bank (Chile), as it does not view the company as a standalone
entity. HSBC Bank (Chile)'s support rating and National scale ratings were
affirmed due to expected support from its parent. National scale ratings are
relative rankings of creditworthiness within a certain jurisdiction.

Ratings Sensitivities

HSBC Bank (Chile)'s IDRs would move in line with those of its parent. The
National scale ratings could be affected by a downgrade of HSBC.

HSBC BANK (PANAMA)

HSBC Bank (Panama)'s IDRs, support and National ratings remain on Rating Watch
Negative. The ratings were placed on Negative Watch following the announcement
of HSBC's agreement to sell these operations to the Colombian Bancolombia,
S.A. (Bancolombia) for total consideration of US$2.1 billion. The transaction
is subject to regulatory and other approvals and is expected to be completed
in the third quarter of 2013. The Negative Watch reflects that after the
transaction is completed, the sold entities would no longer receive potential
support from their current ultimate parent (HSBC Holding plc, rated 'AA-' with
a Stable Outlook by Fitch). The Rating Watch will be resolved once the
transaction is completed and Fitch assesses the potential support that
Bancolombia could provide to its future subsidiaries and the individual
strengths of the Panamanian entities.

Ratings Sensitivities

Once the transaction is completed, HSBC Bank (Panama)'s IDRs could be
downgraded to the level of its VR, currently at 'bbb'. In addition, Fitch
expects this bank to be considered core for Bancolombia; therefore, it is
unlikely that HSBC Panama's IDRs would eventually be downgraded below
Bancolombia's IDRs. In turn, the bank's Support rating will likely be
downgraded, as Bancolombia's ability to support its subsidiaries is in Fitch's
view relatively weaker than HSBC's, and it could be downgraded to '2' upon
completion of the transaction. The bank's National ratings are also likely to
be downgraded. Fitch expects that the resulting long-term National rating
would be in the 'AA' category and the short-term National rating in the 'F1'
category.

HSBC BANK (URUGUAY)

HSBC Bank (Uruguay) S.A.'s Long-term FC and LC IDRs, as well as National
Long-term and Support ratings remain on Rating Watch Negative, as the bank's
acquisition by Colombia's Banco GNB Sudameris SA is still pending regulatory
approval.

Rating Sensitivities

The Rating Watch will be resolved once the transaction is approved by
Uruguayan and Colombian regulators, which is expected during the second or
third quarter of 2013. HSBC Bank (Uruguay)'s IDRs, National Scale and Support
ratings will be likely downgraded once a full review of the new shareholder's
capacity and willingness to provide support and the intrinsic financial
profile of the bank in Uruguay. Fitch rates Banco GNB Sudameris SA's LT FC and
LC IDRs 'BB+'.

HSBC Bank (Uruguay)'s intrinsic financial profile is affected by its small
size, thin capitalization, low, though improving, profitability, and a
relatively high loan and deposits concentration. Additionally, as is the case
with most other Uruguayan banks, the bank's balance sheet is highly
dollarized. On the other hand, the bank has sound asset quality and ample
liquidity.

In Fitch's opinion, the main challenge the bank faces in 2013, and that could
affect its intrinsic financial profile, is to navigate the transition period
once the acquisition by the new shareholder is approved without losing a
significant amount of clients and business. If the bank is able to retain its
client base after the acquisition, if operating revenues continue to improve
while it maintains adequate asset quality and liquidity, and it improves its
capital adequacy ratios, Fitch would view this as a positive for the bank's
financial profile.

HSBC BANK ARGENTINA S.A.

HSBC Bank Argentina S.A.'s National Scale ratings were affirmed at the last
review. Despite the volatility of the environment HSBC Bank Argentina is
considered by Fitch a Strategically Important subsidiary for HSBC and as such,
its National Scale ratings are supported by the expected support from HSBC.
Argentina is considered a strategic market for HSBC and the operations in
Argentina are focused on commercial banking activities domestically funded,
and providing banking services to domestic customers and customers related to
HSBC around the world. The current ratings of HSBC Bank Argentina are
constrained by the negative effects of government intervention on the banking
business, similar to other banks locally, and the low sovereign ratings and
country ceiling.

Rating Sensitivities

HSBC Bank Argentina's National scale ratings could be affected by a
significant reduction of the rating of its parent and/or lower propensity to
provide support, which Fitch considers a scenario of very low probability of
occurrence. Also, further deterioration of the operating environment or new
actions of government intervention in the bank business may also trigger a
review of its ratings. Changes in Argentina's sovereign rating may also
trigger a review on HSBC Bank Argentina's ratings.

HSBC MEXICO (Unaffected)

After the upgrade of Mexico's sovereign rating, HSBC Mexico S.A.'s long-term
LC and FC ratings were upgraded to 'A', while its National scale ratings and
the ratings of HSBC Mexico Casa de Bolsa S.A were affirmed at the top end of
the National ratings scale. The IDRs and National scale ratings of HSBC
subsidiaries in Mexico are driven by the potential support of HSBC. The
ratings are consistent with Fitch's perception that HSBC Mexico is a
Strategically Important subsidiary of HSBC Holdings; therefore, it is one
notch below the parent's rating. In Fitch's opinion, Mexico is a priority
growth market for HSBC (see 'Fitch Upgrades HSBC Mexico's IDRs following
Sovereign Action; Outlook Stable'; dated May 13, 2013; available at
www.fitchratings.com).

Fitch has taken the following rating actions:

HSBC Bank (Chile)

--Long-term foreign and local currency IDR affirmed at 'A'; Outlook Stable;

--Short-term foreign and local currency IDR affirmed at 'F1';

--Long-term National rating affirmed at 'AAA(cl)'; Outlook Stable;

--Short-term National rating affirmed at 'N1+(cl)';

--Support Rating affirmed at '1'.

HSBC Bank (Panama):

--Long-term IDR of 'A' remains on Rating Watch Negative;

--Short-term IDR of 'F1' remains on Rating Watch Negative;

--Support Rating of '1' remains on Rating Watch Negative;

--Long-term National scale rating of 'AAA(pan)' remains on Rating Watch
Negative;

--Short-term National scale rating of 'F1+(pan)' remains on Rating Watch
Negative.

HSBC Bank (Uruguay)

--Foreign currency IDR of 'BBB' remains on Rating Watch Negative;

--Local currency IDR of 'BBB+' remains on Rating Watch Negative;

--National long-term rating of 'AAA(uy)' remains on Rating Watch Negative;

--Support rating of '2' remains on Rating Watch Negative.

HSBC Bank (Argentina)

--Long-term National scale rating affirmed at 'AA(arg)'; Rating Outlook
Negative;

--Short-term National scale rating affirmed at 'A1+(arg)'.

--Senior Unsecured Debt national-scale rating affirmed at 'AA(arg)'; Rating
Outlook Negative.

Additional information is available on www.fitchratings.com.

Applicable Criteria and Related Research:

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

--'National Ratings Criteria' (Jan. 19, 2011);

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

Applicable Criteria and Related Research

Rating FI Subsidiaries and Holding Companies

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

National Ratings Criteria

http://www.fitchratings.com/creditdesk/reports/report_frame.cfm?rpt_id=595885

Global Financial Institutions Rating Criteria

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

Additional Disclosure

Solicitation Status

http://www.fitchratings.com/gws/en/disclosure/solicitation?pr_id=791367

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Contact:

Fitch Ratings
Primary Analyst (HSBC Chile; HSBC Uruguay and Secondary Analyst on HSBC
Argentina):
Santiago Gallo, +54-11-5235-8137
Director
Fitch Argentina Calificadora de Riesgo S.A.
Sarmiento 663 - piso 7 - C1041AAM
Buenos Aires, Argentina
or
Primary Analyst (HSBC Panama):
Diego Alcazar, +1 212 908-0396
Director
or
Primary Analyst (HSBC Argentina and Secondary Analyst on HSBC Uruguay):
Dario Logiodice, +54 11 5235 8137
Associate Director
or
Secondary Analyst (HSBC Chile):
Eduardo Santibanez, +56-2-499-33-07
Director
or
Secondary Analyst (HSBC Panama):
Carmen Matamoros, +503 2516-6612
Associate Director
or
Committee Chairperson:
Franklin Santarelli, +1 212 908-0739
Managing Director
or
Media Relations:
Elizabeth Fogerty, New York, +1 212-908-0526
elizabeth.fogerty@fitchratings.com
 
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