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Moody : downgrades Lower Austria's ratings to Aa1; outlook negative (Rating Action)

07/06/2015 | 04:33am US/Eastern

Release date- 03072015 - Moody's Investors Service today downgraded State of Lower Austria's issuer and debt ratings to Aa1 (from Aaa) and outlook changed to negative.

The action reflects the state's indirect and direct exposure to Heta Asset Resolution AG (Heta, Carinthian-State-guaranteed senior unsecured debt rated Ca, negative) and Pfandbriefbank (Oesterreich) AG , its relatively high outstanding debt level compared to other Austrian peers, and the expected negative impact of Austria's economic slowdown on the state's financial performance.

RATINGS RATIONALE

The rating action reflects Moody's assessment that the State of Lower Austria remains exposed to publicly-owned banks Heta Asset Resolution AG (Heta, Carinthian-State-guaranteed senior unsecured debt rated Ca, negative) and Pfandbriefbank (Oesterreich) AG (Ba1, negative) via its 100%-ownership of Hypo NOE Gruppe Bank AG (Hypo NOE, not rated). Pfandbriefbank is supported by all its member banks, Hypo NOE being one of them.

Pfandbriefbank came under stress after the regulator (Financial Markets Authority; FMA) in Austria imposed a payment moratorium on the liabilities of Heta to which Pfandbriefbank had a EUR1.2 billion exposure at that time in March 2015. The state of Lower Austria stepped in to provide liquidity support, reflecting the state's willingness to fulfill its obligation, irrespective of potential conflict with EU-state aid rules.

Lower Austria's net direct and indirect debt is expected at a relatively high about 100% of operating revenues over 2015 to 2016 and Moody's expects this to remain at elevated levels over the medium term.

In addition, we believe the state may fall short of its projected budgetary targets in the medium term because of a slowing economy.

RATIONALE FOR THE NEGATIVE OUTLOOK

The negative outlook reflects the continued uncertainty around the wind down of Heta and exposure to the Austrian public sector banks via Hypo NOE.

What Could Change the Rating - Up

Albeit unlikely in the medium term given the negative outlook, the state's ratings could be upgraded if Moody's assesses the state's exposure to risk from Austrian public sector banks as materially decreased. In addition, structural improvement of financial performance and declining debt levels could lead to an upward rating pressure.

What Could Change the Rating - Down

The state's ratings could be downgraded if Moody's assesses the risk related to Austrian public sector banks has materially increased. In addition, a weakening of financial performance could also result in a lower rating. Lower Austria's credit rating could also come under pressure if any risk from HypoNOE crystallises or if the creditworthiness of the sovereign deteriorated.

The specific economic indicators, as required by EU regulation, are not available for Lower Austria, State of. The following national economic indicators are relevant to the sovereign rating, which was used as an input to this credit rating action.

Sovereign Issuer: Austria, Government of

GDP per capita (PPP basis, US$): 46,420 (2014 Actual) (also known as Per Capita Income)

Real GDP growth (% change): 0.3% (2014 Actual) (also known as GDP Growth)

Inflation Rate (CPI, % change Dec/Dec): 1.5% (2014 Actual)

Gen. Gov. Financial Balance/GDP: -2.4% (2014 Actual) (also known as Fiscal Balance)

Current Account Balance/GDP: 1.8% (2014 Actual) (also known as External Balance)

External debt/GDP: [not available]

Level of economic development: Very High level of economic resilience

Default history: No default events (on bonds or loans) have been recorded since 1983.

On 01 July 2015, a rating committee was called to discuss the rating of the Lower Austria, State of. The main points raised during the discussion were: The issuer has become increasingly susceptible to event risks.

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Regional and Local Governments published in January 2013. Please see the Credit Policy page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

The weighting of all rating factors is described in the methodology used in this rating action, if applicable.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

For any affected securities or rated entities receiving direct credit support from the primary entity(ies) of this rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this rating action, the associated regulatory disclosures will be those of the guarantor entity. Exceptions to this approach exist for the following disclosures, if applicable to jurisdiction: Ancillary Services, Disclosure to rated entity, Disclosure from rated entity.

The following information supplements Disclosure 10 ('Information Relating to Conflicts of Interest as required by Paragraph (a)(1)(ii)(J) of SEC Rule 17g-7') in the regulatory disclosures made at the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for each credit rating as indicated:

Moody's was not paid for services other than determining a credit rating in the most recently ended fiscal year by the person that paid Moody's to determine this credit rating.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Harald Sperlein

Vice President - Senior Analyst

Sub-Sovereign Group

Moody's Deutschland GmbH

An der Welle 5

Frankfurt am Main 60322

Germany

JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456

SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

David Rubinoff

MD - Sub-Sovereigns

Sub-Sovereign Group

JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456

SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:

Moody's Deutschland GmbH

An der Welle 5

Frankfurt am Main 60322

Germany

JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456

SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

(c) 2015 Electronic News Publishing -, source ENP Newswire

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