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Fitch Takes Rating Action on Four Taiwanese Private Banks

Tue 12th May, 2020 9:03am
(The following statement was released by the rating agency)


Fitch Ratings-Taipei-May 12: 

Fitch Ratings has taken the following rating actions after a periodic peer 
review of four private banks in Taiwan: 

- Affirmed King's Town Bank's (KTB) ratings and revised its rating Outlook to 
Negative from Stable.

- Affirmed all ratings of Far Eastern International Bank (FEIB), The Shanghai 
Commercial  Savings Bank, Ltd. (SCSB), and Taichung Commercial Bank Company 
Limited (Taichung) with a Stable Outlook. 

A full list of rating actions is at the end of this commentary.

Fitch has revised the outlook on the 'a' operating environment score for 
Taiwanese banks to negative from stable, reflecting the large demand shock to 
Taiwan's export-dependent economy from the coronavirus pandemic. The 
substantially weaker global economic environment will pressure the banks' 
financial performance and their borrowers' repayment ability even though the 
operating environment score is not a high influence factor driving the credit 
profiles of these banks. 

The agency forecasts a deep global recession with the world economy contracting 
by 3.9% in 2020 and Taiwan's GDP growth slowing to 0% in 2020 from 2.7% in 2019. 
Under this base case, we expect the economic downturn in 1H20 to be followed by 
a partial stabilisation in 3Q20 and a gradual recovery beginning in 4Q20, but 
risks to these forecasts remain and are outlined in our report Fitch Ratings 
Coronavirus Scenarios: Baseline and Downside Cases -- Update, published 29 April 
2020. 

The Negative Outlook on KTB reflects the rising pressure on its ratings due to 
potentially larger erosion of risk buffers compared with peers due to its larger 
investment book, loan concentration risks and rapid growth in SME loans in the 
past few years. The Stable Outlook on FEIB, SCSB and Taichung reflects our 
expectations these banks will maintain adequate loss-absorption buffers that are 
commensurate with the maintenance of their ratings. 

We expect ample system-wide liquidity as well as strengthened loan-loss 
allowances and capital levels at most banks to counter some of the pressures 
from the challenging operating environment. Taiwan was less susceptible to a 
global liquidity flight in earlier episodes of market stress, both in terms of 
the Taiwan and US dollars, backed by its strong foreign-exchange reserves and 
robust system liquidity. Furthermore, we expect the domestic property market to 
remain supported by the return of manufacturing activities to Taiwan from 
overseas, which underpins the credit quality of our rated banks' 
property-related exposures. Nonetheless, these banks continue to face 
concentration risks as their loans are highly focused on property-related 
sectors, including mortgage and construction loans, and the majority of their 
loan collateral is in real estate. 

Key Rating Drivers

ISSUER DEFAULT RATINGS (IDR) AND VIABILITY RATINGS (VR)

The ratings of the four banks in this review are driven by their intrinsic 
credit profiles. 

Far Eastern International Bank

The rating affirmation and Stable Outlook is driven by the bank's adequate 
capital, with a common equity Tier 1 (CET1) ratio of 10.6% at end-2019, and 
liquidity buffers, with a loan-to-deposit ratio of 75%, relative to its ratings. 
We believe these buffers are sufficient to counterbalance near-term pressure on 
asset quality and profitability arising from the narrowing margin between Taiwan 
and US dollars, subdued growth in fee income, rising credit costs and 
mark-to-market losses on its credit derivatives trading position. 

King's Town Bank

The Negative Outlook on KTB's VR-driven IDR reflects our expectation that the 
economic fallout from the pandemic will increase its earnings volatility 
(operating profit/risk-weighted assets: 1.6% in 2019) and capitalisation 
pressures (CET1: 14.6% at end-2019) due to mark-to-market adjustments on its 
above-sector investment book. This is in addition to the profitability 
challenges from subdued credit growth, narrowing margins, muted growth in fees, 
and rising credit costs for increased loan impairments. That said, the rating 
affirmation is supported by capitalisation that is higher than that of peers and 
its sound liquidity profile, counterbalancing near-term pressures on asset 
quality and profitability. 

The Shanghai Commercial  Savings Bank, Ltd.

The bank's ratings have been affirmed with a Stable Outlook, underpinned by its 
unique and established cross-strait business model, consistent risk appetite as 
well as our expectation that its capital and liquidity strengths will help 
mitigate the external shock on its asset quality and profitability. There is 
some rating headroom based on the bank's financial performance metrics to 
support its current ratings, although we expect the severe economic downturn in 
the region, including in greater China, to pressure SCSB's asset quality 
(impaired-loan ratio of 0.4% at end-2019) and profitability (operating 
profit/risk-weighted assets ratio of 1.6%). SCSB serves Taiwanese SMEs through 
its greater China platform, including its Hong Kong subsidiary, Shanghai 
Commercial Bank Limited (SCB, A-/Stable/a-), and its Chinese partner, Bank of 
Shanghai. SCB contributed over 50% of SCSB's consolidated profit and 38% of 
assets in 2019. 

Taichung Commercial Bank Company Limited

The affirmation of Taichung's 'BB+' IDR reflects its modest company profile with 
high concentration on the domestic property sector and below-average asset 
quality and profitability. The bank's impaired-loan ratio of 2.2% at end-2019 
was higher than the domestic peer average of 1%. Its operating 
profit/risk-weighted assets ratio improved to 1.1% in 2019, although still 
slightly lower than the local peer average of 1.2%. The Stable Outlook reflects 
our view that Taichung's improved capitalisation and its stable funding and 
liquidity profile will help the bank to maintain its rating despite the economic 
challenges from the coronavirus outbreak. 

NATIONAL RATINGS

SCSB's 'AA(twn)' rating is at the high end of the national rating scale, 
reflecting very low default risks relative to domestic issuers. The other three 
rated banks' National Ratings are in the 'A' category, reflecting low default 
risks relative to issuers in Taiwan.

FEIB, KTB, SCSB and Taichung 

The Outlook for KTB's National Rating has been revised to Negative from Stable, 
in line with the revision on the Outlook for its IDR. 

The Stable Outlooks on the National Ratings of FEIB, SCSB and Taichung are in 
line with the Outlook on their IDRs. The affirmation of these four banks' 
National Ratings is an indication that there is no change in Fitch's view of 
their credit profiles relative to Taiwan's national-rating universe.

SUPPORT RATING AND SUPPORT RATING FLOOR 

FEIB, Taichung and SCSB have a Support Rating of '4' and a Support Rating Floor 
of 'B+', reflecting their low systemic importance. 

KTB's Support Rating is '5' and its Support Rating Floor is 'No Floor' due to 
its lower systemic importance.

SUBORDINATED DEBT 

FEIB and Taichung's Basel III-compliant subordinated debt is rated two notches 
below their National Long-Term Ratings, which are anchored by their respective 
VRs, to reflect the bonds' limited recovery prospects. Bondholders risk 
significant loss at the point of non-viability, which is reached upon government 
receivership or a regulatory order for resolution or liquidation, because the 
bonds would rank equally with common shares in Taiwan.

RATING SENSITIVITIES

IDRS AND VIABILITY RATINGS

Factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to positive rating 
action/upgrade: 

FEIB

FEIB's ratings upside is limited, unless the bank can significantly improve its 
franchise and profitability, for example, operating profit/risk-weighted assets 
rising towards 1.6%, without sacrificing asset quality, while sustaining 
improvement in capitalisation, including the CET1 ratio rising above 12%, 
through more managed growth. 

KTB

KTB's rating Outlook could be revised back to Stable if the bank can demonstrate 
improved stability in earnings, with operating profit/risk-weighted assets 
sustained at around 1.6%, and maintain satisfactory capitalisation on a 
sustained basis, including the CET1 ratio rising above 15%.

SCSB

Positive rating action for SCSB is unlikely in the near term, as it is already 
the highest rated among local peers and we have a negative outlook on Taiwan's 
operating environment.

Taichung

Positive rating action could be triggered in the longer term if Taichung's 
operating profit/risk-weighted assets ratio increases closer to 1.2% on a 
sustained basis, possibly through a more diversified revenue mix, and/or its 
CET1 ratio rises towards 11% on a sustained basis.

Factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to negative rating 
action/downgrade:

FEIB

Excessive risk taking in financial-market trading and investment could render 
its credit profile more vulnerable relative to peers and pressure its ratings, 
given its above-peer credit derivatives trading. A significant rise in the 
unemployment rate could weigh further on the credit quality of its larger 
mortgages (around 47% of total loans at end-2019), profitability and ratings. A 
downgrade could arise from further and sustained deterioration in asset quality 
(impaired loan ratio rising to above 4%), profitability (operating 
profit/risk-weighted assets falling sustainably below 0.75%) and/or 
capitalisation (CET1 ratio falling towards 10%). 

KTB

A downgrade could arise from rising market fluctuations and/or provisioning, 
leading to greater erosion in profitability, for example, if the operating 
profit/risk-weighted assets falls sustainably below 1.2%, which results in 
capital erosion, with the CET1 ratio falling towards 12%, and/or increased 
vulnerability to asset quality, with the impaired-loan ratio rising to over 3%, 
in light of the size of its investments and loan concentration risks. 

SCSB

A downgrade in the VR of its Hong Kong subsidiary, SCB, which accounts for 38% 
of SCSB's assets, or a delayed economic recovery in the region beyond 2H20 as a 
result of a prolonged pandemic could add pressure on SCSB's asset quality 
(impaired-loan ratio rising to above 2%), profitability (operating 
profit/risk-weighted assets sustainably below 1.6%), capitalisation (Fitch Core 
Capital ratio falls towards 12%) and in turn, SCSB's ratings. We use the Fitch 
Core Capital ratio, instead of the CET1 ratio, as the minority interest at its 
Hong Kong subsidiary is partially recognised in the CET1 ratio under the Basel 
framework, whereas we base our analysis on the consolidated financial statement, 
including total assets and total liabilities of the Hong Kong subsidiary. 

Taichung

Negative rating action on Taichung's IDRs and VR could arise if the bank 
incurred sizeable losses, resulting in the CET1 ratio falling below 9% for a 
sustained period.

NATIONAL RATINGS

Factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to positive rating 
action/upgrade:

Changes in Fitch's perception of the rated banks' credit profiles relative to 
the national-rating universe in Taiwan could affect their National Ratings. An 
upgrade of the National Ratings for KTB is unlikely in the near term, given its 
Negative rating Outlook. Strengthening in the overall credit profiles of FEIB, 
SCSB and Taichung on a relative basis to the national-rating universe could lead 
to an upgrade of their National Ratings.

Factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to negative rating 
action/downgrade:

A downgrade of the rated banks' National Ratings would arise from a weakening in 
their overall credit profiles on a relative basis to the national-rating 
universe.

SUPPORT RATING AND SUPPORT RATING FLOOR 

Factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to positive rating 
action/upgrade:

The Support Rating Floor could be upgraded if Fitch assesses that there is a 
higher propensity of the Taiwan government (AA-/Stable) to provide timely 
extraordinary support to FEIB, KTB, SCSB and Taichung. However, Fitch does not 
expect such a change over the medium term. 

Factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to negative rating 
action/downgrade: 

Fitch may take negative action on the Support Ratings and Support Rating Floors 
for FEIB, SCSB and Taichung if we believe there is lower propensity for the 
state to provide extraordinary support to them. There is no downside for KTB's 
Support Rating and Support Rating Floor as they are already at the lowest level.

SUBORDINATED DEBT 

Factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to positive rating 
action/upgrade:

The subordinated debt ratings of FEIB and Taichung are sensitive to the same 
considerations that might affect their VRs or National Long-Term Ratings. An 
upgrade of the VR or National Long-Term Rating, the anchor for the subordinated 
debt rating, could lead to an upgrade of FEIB's and Taichung's subordinated debt 
ratings.

Factors that could, individually or collectively, lead to negative rating 
action/downgrade: 

A downgrade of their VRs or National Ratings could lead to a downgrade of the 
subordinated debt ratings of FEIB and Taichung.

Best/Worst Case Rating Scenario

International scale credit ratings of Financial Institutions issuers have a 
best-case rating upgrade scenario (defined as the 99th percentile of rating 
transitions, measured in a positive direction) of three notches over a 
three-year rating horizon; and a worst-case rating downgrade scenario (defined 
as the 99th percentile of rating transitions, measured in a negative direction) 
of four notches over three years. The complete span of best- and worst-case 
scenario credit ratings for all rating categories ranges from 'AAA' to 'D'. 
Best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings are based on historical 
performance. For more information about the methodology used to determine 
sector-specific best- and worst-case scenario credit ratings, visit 
https://www.fitchratings.com/site/re/10111579.

REFERENCES FOR SUBSTANTIALLY MATERIAL SOURCE CITED AS KEY DRIVER OF RATING

The principal sources of information used in the analysis are described in the 
Applicable Criteria.

ESG Considerations

King's Town Bank has an ESG Relevance Score of '4' for Governance Structure due 
to the tight control of top management that affects the bank's strategic 
planning and may compromise the interests of minority shareholders, which has a 
negative impact on the credit profile, and is relevant to the rating in 
conjunction with other factors.

Except for the matters discussed above, the highest level of ESG credit 
relevance, if present, is a score of 3. This means ESG issues are credit-neutral 
or have only a minimal credit impact on the entity(ies), either due to their 
nature or to the way in which they are being managed by the entity(ies). For 
more information on Fitch's ESG Relevance Scores, visit 
www.fitchratings.com/esg.

Taichung Commercial Bank Company Limited; Long Term Issuer Default Rating; 
Affirmed; BB+; RO:Sta

; Short Term Issuer Default Rating; Affirmed; B

; National Long Term Rating; Affirmed; A-(twn); RO:Sta

; National Short Term Rating; Affirmed; F1(twn)

; Viability Rating; Affirmed; bb+

; Support Rating; Affirmed; 4

; Support Rating Floor; Affirmed; B+

----subordinated; National Long Term Rating; Affirmed; BBB(twn)

King's Town Bank; Long Term Issuer Default Rating; Affirmed; BBB; RO:Neg

; Short Term Issuer Default Rating; Affirmed; F3

; National Long Term Rating; Affirmed; A+(twn); RO:Neg

; National Short Term Rating; Affirmed; F1(twn)

; Viability Rating; Affirmed; bbb

; Support Rating; Affirmed; 5

; Support Rating Floor; Affirmed; NF

The Shanghai Commercial  Long Term Issuer Default Rating; Affirmed; A-; RO:Sta

; Short Term Issuer Default Rating; Affirmed; F2

; National Long Term Rating; Affirmed; AA(twn); RO:Sta

; National Short Term Rating; Affirmed; F1+(twn)

; Viability Rating; Affirmed; a-

; Support Rating; Affirmed; 4

; Support Rating Floor; Affirmed; B+

Far Eastern International Bank; Long Term Issuer Default Rating; Affirmed; BBB; 
RO:Sta

; Short Term Issuer Default Rating; Affirmed; F3

; National Long Term Rating; Affirmed; A+(twn); RO:Sta

; National Short Term Rating; Affirmed; F1(twn)

; Viability Rating; Affirmed; bbb

; Support Rating; Affirmed; 4

; Support Rating Floor; Affirmed; B+

----subordinated; National Long Term Rating; Affirmed; A-(twn)

Contacts: 

Primary Rating Analyst

Cherry Huang, 

Director

+886 2 8175 7603

Fitch Australia Pty Ltd, Taiwan Branch

Level 37 TAIPEI NANSHAN PLAZA, No. 100, Songren Road, Xinyi District

Taipei 110

Primary Rating Analyst

Janet Lu, 

Associate Director

+886 2 8175 7613

Fitch Australia Pty Ltd, Taiwan Branch

Level 37 TAIPEI NANSHAN PLAZA, No. 100, Songren Road, Xinyi District

Taipei 110

Primary Rating Analyst

Sophia Chen, 

Director

+886 2 8175 7604

Fitch Australia Pty Ltd, Taiwan Branch

Level 37 TAIPEI NANSHAN PLAZA, No. 100, Songren Road, Xinyi District

Taipei 110

Secondary Rating Analyst

Janet Lu, 

Associate Director

+886 2 8175 7613

Secondary Rating Analyst

Cherry Huang, 

Director

+886 2 8175 7603

Secondary Rating Analyst

Philip Hsiao, 

Analyst

+886 2 8176 7607

Secondary Rating Analyst

Sophia Chen, 

Director

+886 2 8175 7604

Committee Chairperson

Parson Singha, 

Senior Director

+66 2 108 0151

 

Media Relations: Wai Lun Wan, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2263 9935, Email: 
wailun.wan@thefitchgroup.com; Alanis Ko, Hong Kong, Tel: +852 2263 9953, Email: 
alanis.ko@thefitchgroup.com.

Additional information is available on www.fitchratings.com

Applicable Criteria 

Bank Rating Criteria (pub. 28 Feb 2020) (including rating assumption 
sensitivity)

https://www.fitchratings.com/site/re/10110041

National Scale Ratings Criteria (pub. 18 Jul 2018) 

https://www.fitchratings.com/site/re/10038626

Additional Disclosures 

Dodd-Frank Rating Information Disclosure Form 

https://www.fitchratings.com/site/dodd-frank-disclosure/10122054

Solicitation Status 

https://www.fitchratings.com/site/pr/10122054#solicitation

Endorsement Status

https://www.fitchratings.com/site/pr/10122054#endorsement_status

Endorsement Policy 

https://www.fitchratings.com/regulatory

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