National Bank’s sale of Bulgarian operations credit positive, Moody’s says

The sale of National Bank’s Bulgarian operations is credit positive for the bank, Moody’s Investors Service said on Monday.

In a credit outlook report, Moody’s said National Bank will be the first Greek bank to fully repay its loans through the ELA mechanism in the next 12-18 months “as depositors’ confidence increases after a decision by Eurogroup last Thursday to approve the disbursement of an 8.5 billion euros tranche to Greece in the framework of a support program”.

The credit rating agency said that balance sheet deleverage measures were improving the bank’s funding profile and strengthening its capital base, therefore dealing with some of its basic challenges.

Last week, National Bank announced the sale of its Bulgarian operations (99.91 pct stake in Bulgarian Bank AD and 100 pct in Interlease EAD). This transaction is credit positive, Moody’s said, because it will boost the bank’s capital ratio by around 100 basis points and boost its liquidity by around 900 million euros, allowing the bank to reduce its borrowing from ELA.

National Bank said the sale of its Bulgarian operations will increase its pro forma common equity Tier 1, CET1 capital ratio to around 17 pct from 16 pct in March 2017.

Moody’s said a reduction in ELA exposure, currently costing 1.5 pct, will also lower the bank’s funding cost, improving margins and profitability.