Fitch Affirms Banco do Brasil, Banco Votorantim and Caixa Economica Federal's IDRs

  Fitch Affirms Banco do Brasil, Banco Votorantim and Caixa Economica   Federal's IDRs  Business Wire  SAO PAULO -- July 3, 2014  Fitch Ratings has affirmed the long-term foreign and local currency Issuer Defaults Ratings (IDRs), Support Ratings and National Ratings of Banco do Brasil S.A. (BdB), Banco Votorantim S.A. (BV) and Caixa Economica Federal (Caixa), and the National Ratings of BV Leasing Arrendamento Mercantil S.A's (BV Leasing) debentures. Fitch also affirmed BdB's and BV's Viability Ratings (VR) at 'bb+' and at 'bb-', respectively.  A full list of rating actions is provided at the end of this release.  The international ratings of BdB and Caixa, which are systemically important banks in Brazil, are equalized and linked to Brazil's sovereign ratings. This reflects Fitch's view that probability of government support to these two banks, in case of need, is high. This explains their Support Ratings of '2' and Support Rating Floors of 'BBB'.  BdB and Caixa are the two largest government-owned retail banks in Brazil. Their strategies are highly linked to the government's economic and social policies. BdB is 58.6% owned by the government and Caixa is fully government owned. BdB has a relatively more commercial scope than Caixa, but both banks fulfill an important policy role and increasingly compete for public funds. BdB is the largest lender for agribusiness (68.5% market share in 1Q'14) and payroll deductible loans (27.1% market share), while Caixa is the largest lender in mortgage lending (67.6% market share).  In addition, they are both significant players in commercial loans (to individuals, SMEs and corporates) and are expanding their infrastructure loan portfolios. They are also financial agents for a number of public institutions, such as the social security system, and manage various public programs and funds.  In the first quarter of 2014, with assets of BRL1.370 billion and deposits of BRL455 billion, BdB was the largest bank in the country in terms of assets and deposits (20% and 26% market share, respectively, in March 2014). In the same period, Caixa's assets and deposits were BRL910 billion and BRL371 billion, ranking as the fourth and second, respectively (14% and 21% market share, respectively, in March 2014).  Loan growth at both banks was well above the sector average in the recent years, and was mainly induced by the anti-cyclical measures of the government. Between 2011 and 2013, average annual loan growth was 20% and 41% for BdB and Caixa, respectively, while the system average - excluding BdB and Caixa - was 11%. Both banks project a decline in loan growth in 2014, but it remains sizable considering the meager economic activity expectations for the year (BdB to 14-18% and Caixa to 22-25%).  Fitch believes that such fast loan growth, particularly in the case of Caixa, might be masking a possible asset quality deterioration of the more seasoned part of their respective loan portfolios. It may also have a negative impact on their asset quality ratios going forward, given the continuation of modest economic growth and inflationary pressures, as well as higher interest rates.  Both banks' asset quality indicators remained adequate in 2013 and 1Q'14, and continue to be slightly better than the sector average. BdB's asset quality is better than Caixa's and benefits from its large payroll deductible loan portfolio (10% of total loans in March 2014), which has relatively low risk. Improvements in new auto vintages and other factors, such as the significant usage of insurance in the agribusiness segment, protection schemes in SMEs and lower restructured loans have benefited BdB's credit quality metrics. In turn, Caixa's indicators are supported by its secured loans portfolio (mortgages and payroll deductible loans, which made up 65% of total in December 2013).  As of March 2014, BdB's nonperforming loans (NPLs, past due loans over 90 days) remained stable at approximately 2% of gross loans, while Caixa's NPLs rose slightly to 2.6% from 2.3% in March 2013. In the same period, sector NPL/gross loan ratio improved to 3% (3.6% in March 2013). The moderate deterioration in Caixa's NPLs was mainly driven by the commercial loans to individuals, while they remained stable at 1.9% in the mortgage book.  BdB and Caixa's capitalization ratios have historically been lower than the average for large private banks. Recent rapid loan growth and high dividends have also pressured both banks' capital ratios.  In the case of Caixa, the conversion of the Additional Tier 1 (AT1) securities subscribed by the National Treasury to Common Equity Tier 1 (CET1) capital, currently pending the Central Bank of Brazil's approval, will alleviate potential pressures on its capitalization. It will also lead to a meaningful improvement in the capital structure and the Fitch Core Capital (FCC) ratio, as Fitch considers these securities as part of shareholder's equity and FCC. Caixa's FCC ratio (FCC/risk weighted assets) should rise to approximately 11% following the conversion (5.74% in March 2014). BdB's capitalization will benefit more immediately by its recent market issue of AT1 securities, which should maintain its Fitch Eligible Capital (FEC) ratio above 7% (7.09% in March 2014), as Fitch assigns 50% equity credit to these securities.  BV is 50% owned by BdB and its participation will remain unchanged in the near term, although its willingness to support the bank will remain strong if necessary. BdB grants BV an interbank credit line of BRL 7 billion (never used) and funding through recurring acquisitions of its credit portfolio. There is no extraordinary capital injection need projected for the near term, considering that BV should resume growth and profitability until 2015. Hybrids instruments eligible as Tier 1 (T1) and Tier 2 (T2) capital have been studied as part of its funding and capital plan as alternatives to provide the bank with a cushion if necessary.  In recent years, BV has grown and expanded its scope of action, amplifying revenues from a better product mix in the wholesale, wealth management and consumer finance areas - in the latter, mainly in the auto loans segment. With a strong relationship with multi brand dealers (new and used vehicles), BV is one of the local leaders in car financing with around 17% market share as of March 2014.  Fitch's projections for the state owned banks do not take into consideration a potentially negative decision by the Brazilian Supreme Court regarding the constitutionality of the monetary correction indices applied to certain savings deposits in the past decades. An unfavorable decision would likely pressure BdB and Caixa's capital and, possibly, their liquidity, depending on the specifics of the ruling's outcome. Under this scenario, Fitch believes that the government would provide the necessary support.  KEY RATING DRIVERS  BdB: BdB's IDRs and National Ratings are linked to the sovereign ratings of Brazil, reflecting the federal government control and influence over its strategies, as well as its systemic importance. The federal government has influence over the strategies of the bank, as evidenced by its role during the 2008 crisis, in the governmental economic policies promoting the agribusiness development, and in the widespread reduction in the domestic interest rates, as well as its recent engagement in managing federal government's infrastructure programs.  BdB's VR considers its strong franchise, wide branch network, diversified client and earnings base, high liquidity and satisfactory performance through the economic cycles, while its capitalization remains low compared to other banks with VRs 'bb+/bbb-' and to local private peers. Some improvements are expected in its capital base, which will preserve a minimum cushion during the phase-in period of the new Basel III capital rules implemented in Brazil in October 2013. Management has indicated their desire to run the bank with a buffer on top of those requirements, although, in Fitch's opinion based on its own capital adequacy calculations, such improvement may be modest.  The ratings of BdB's senior unsecured notes correspond to its Long-Term IDR.  BV: BV's IDRs, Support Rating and National ratings are based on the support that Fitch believes that the bank receives from BdB. Fitch considers that BV is strategically important to BdB, since BV performs important complementary activities to BdB's operations and strategies outside its network of agencies, especially in the consumer finance business line (auto and payroll deductible loans).  BV's VR reflects its adequate market position within its niche markets and the benefits provided by the ordinary support of its shareholders in terms of liquidity and funding. The VR also incorporates BV's still weak profitability which was affected by asset quality issues between 2011 and 2013. Its capital base is considered sufficient given its low profitability, and has been enhanced by its shareholders. The recent improvements in asset quality and ongoing adjustments to operating costs have been positive for its performance. The capital ratios benefited from the reduction in the pace of expansion (FCC: 8.8%, T1: 9.5% and total regulatory capital: 14.5%, as of 1Q'14) and compares well with banks at the same rating category.  The rating of BV's senior unsecured notes due May 2016 corresponds to its long-term IDR.  The rating of BV Leasing's subordinated issuances, which are notched down by one from the supported long-term National Rating of BV, reflect the loss severity of the instrument due to its subordination to senior creditors in case of liquidation of the entity. Fitch considers that support to those issuances will be available from its parent BV. Hence, the current notching incorporates only the loss severity in case of liquidation.  Caixa: Caixa's ratings are linked to Brazil's sovereign ratings and reflect the high probability of support, as evidenced by the capital injections by the National Treasury funding loan growth over the years, full ownership by the federal government, its systemic importance, and the crucial role it plays in the implementation of government economic programs and extension of credit to lower income population segments. Fitch considers Caixa a 'public-mission bank', therefore does not assign a VR.  Caixa is one of the main agents financing and/or managing politically high profile federal government development programs such as Programa de Aceleracao do Crescimento (the Accelerated Growth Program focusing on large infrastructure projects), Programa Minha Casa Minha Vida (a program for affordable mortgage lending), and Bolsa Familia (an assistance grant made to low-income families). It also manages a number of large public funds and the collection of federal lottery proceeds.  Caixa's capital base is sustained by the National Treasury, which subscribed all of its CET1 and AT1 securities as of March 2014. Caixa's T2 securities are subscribed by the Workers' Severity and Indemnity Fund (Fundo de Garantia do Tempo de Servico, FGTS). These will be phased out gradually (20% per year starting five years prior to the maturity of each contract) and may be replaced by Basel III-compliant T2 securities mainly provided by FGTS. Caixa could also tap the international markets for hybrid debt issuances.  RATING SENSITIVITIES  BdB: BdB's IDRs would be affected by potential changes in the sovereign ratings of Brazil and/or in its shareholders' willingness to provide support. Fitch does not expect a change in the government's willingness to provide support over the rating horizon.  BdB's VR would be affected negatively if asset quality deteriorates or profitability weakens, undermining its capital base measured by a FEC ratio lower than 6.5-7% in a sustained manner. Positive BdB VR action depends on a sustained improvement of that ratio and ability to preserve good asset quality ratios and profitability levels.  BV: Although unlikely in the short term, any change in BdB's ratings, or in its willingness or capacity to provide support to BV, could result in changes in BV's IDRs and National Ratings and the rating of its senior notes.  A consistent recovery of its profitability on a sustained basis and aligned with peer averages, the maintenance of the adequate capital structure and moderate risk appetite could be positive for BV's VR. The VR could be downgraded if there is further deterioration in credit portfolio, performance that lead to a reduction in capitalization.  The national long-term rating of the 1st and 2nd debenture issuances of BV Leasing could be reviewed in the case of changes in BV's rating.  Caixa: Caixa's IDRs would be affected by potential changes in the sovereign ratings of Brazil and/or in its shareholder's willingness to provide support. Fitch does not expect a change in its evaluation of the government's willingness to provide support over the rating horizon.  Fitch has taken the following rating actions:  Banco do Brasil: --Long-term foreign and local currency IDRs affirmed at 'BBB', Outlook Stable; --Short-term foreign and local currency IDRs affirmed at 'F2'; --Viability Rating affirmed at 'bb+'; --Long-term national rating affirmed at 'AAA(bra)', Outlook Stable; --Short-term national rating affirmed at 'F1+(bra)'; --Support Rating affirmed at '2'; --Support Rating Floor affirmed at 'BBB'; --Senior unsecured CLF and EUR notes due 2018 and 2019, long-term foreign currency rating affirmed at 'BBB'.  Banco Votorantim: --Long-term foreign and local currency IDRs affirmed at 'BBB-', Outlook Stable; --Short-term foreign and local currency IDRs affirmed at 'F3'; --Viability Rating affirmed at 'bb-'; --Long-term national rating affirmed at 'AA+(bra)', Outlook Stable; --Short-term national rating affirmed at 'F1+(bra)'; --Support Rating affirmed at '2'; --Senior unsecured BRL notes due May 2016, long-term foreign currency rating affirmed at 'BBB-'.  BV Leasing Arrendamento Mercantil S.A. --1st and 2nd debentures issuances, national long-term rating affirmed at 'AA(bra)'.  Caixa Economica Federal: --Long-term foreign and local currency IDRs affirmed at 'BBB', Outlook Stable; --Short-term foreign and local currency IDR affirmed 'F2'; --Long-term national rating affirmed at 'AAA(bra)', Outlook Stable; --Short-term national rating affirmed at 'F1+(bra)'; --Support Rating affirmed at '2'; --Support Rating Floor affirmed at 'BBB'; --Senior unsecured USD notes due 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2022, long-term foreign currency rating affirmed at 'BBB'.  Additional information is available at ''.  Applicable Criteria and Related Research: --'Assessing and Rating Bank Subordinated and Hybrid Securities' (Jan. 31, 2014); --'Global Financial Institutions Rating Criteria' (Jan. 31, 2014); --'National Ratings Criteria' (Oct. 30, 2013).  Applicable Criteria and Related Research: Assessing and Rating Bank Subordinated and Hybrid Securities Criteria Global Financial Institutions Rating Criteria National Scale Ratings Criteria  Additional Disclosure Solicitation Status ALL FITCH CREDIT RATINGS ARE SUBJECT TO CERTAIN LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS. PLEASE READ THESE LIMITATIONS AND DISCLAIMERS BY FOLLOWING THIS LINK: HTTP://FITCHRATINGS.COM/UNDERSTANDINGCREDITRATINGS. IN ADDITION, RATING DEFINITIONS AND THE TERMS OF USE OF SUCH RATINGS ARE AVAILABLE ON THE AGENCY'S PUBLIC WEBSITE 'WWW.FITCHRATINGS.COM'. PUBLISHED RATINGS, CRITERIA AND METHODOLOGIES ARE AVAILABLE FROM THIS SITE AT ALL TIMES. FITCH'S CODE OF CONDUCT, CONFIDENTIALITY, CONFLICTS OF INTEREST, AFFILIATE FIREWALL, COMPLIANCE AND OTHER RELEVANT POLICIES AND PROCEDURES ARE ALSO AVAILABLE FROM THE 'CODE OF CONDUCT' SECTION OF THIS SITE. FITCH MAY HAVE PROVIDED ANOTHER PERMISSIBLE SERVICE TO THE RATED ENTITY OR ITS RELATED THIRD PARTIES. DETAILS OF THIS SERVICE FOR RATINGS FOR WHICH THE LEAD ANALYST IS BASED IN AN EU-REGISTERED ENTITY CAN BE FOUND ON THE ENTITY SUMMARY PAGE FOR THIS ISSUER ON THE FITCH WEBSITE.  Contact:  Fitch Ratings Primary Analyst (BdB) Paulo Fugulin Director +55 11 4504-2206 Fitch Rating Brasil Ltda. Alameda Santos 700 Sao Paulo, Brazil or Primary Analyst (BV and BV Leasing) and Secondary Analyst (BdB and Caixa) Maria Rita Goncalves Senior Director +55 21 4503-2621 Fitch Ratings Brasil Ltda. Praca XV de Novembro, 20 - 401 B, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil or Primary Analyst (Caixa) Esin Celasun Director +55 21 4503-2626 Fitch Ratings Brasil Ltda. Praca XV de Novembro, 20 - 401 B, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brasil or Secondary Analyst (BV and BV Leasing) Claudio Gallina Director +55 21 4503-2216 or Committee Chairperson Franklin Santarelli Managing Director +1-212-908-0739 or Media Relations: Elizabeth Fogerty, +1-212-908-0526 (New York)  
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