Brazilian Banks Downgraded by Moody’s After Sovereign Debt Cut

Itau Unibanco Holding SA, Banco do Brasil SA and Banco Bradesco SA were among more than two dozen financial firms in Brazil that had credit ratings cut by Moody’s Investors Service after it stripped the nation of an investment grade this week.

Ratings affected in the latest shakeup included baseline credit assessments and bank deposit and debt ratings, New York-based Moody’s said Thursday in a statement.

While the moves were prompted by the change in the sovereign rating, Brazilian banks’ creditworthiness “may also face downward pressure if Brazil’s very challenging operating environment results in a deterioration of their financial fundamentals, particularly profitability, asset quality and capitalization,” Moody’s said.

Brazil was cut two steps below investment grade, to Ba2, with a negative outlook, a sign the rating might go lower. The downgrade came one week after Standard & Poor’s reduced Brazil’s rating to BB, also two steps below investment grade with a negative outlook. The moves reflect Brazil’s worst recession in more than a century, a nationwide corruption scandal and declining demand from China for Brazilian commodities.

Brazil was cut to junk by S&P in September and by Fitch Ratings in December.

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