Banking & Finance

National Bank of Greece Capital Raise Maybe Not Enough -- S&P

Standard & Poor’s has affirmed its CCC rating on National Bank of Greece S.A. (NYSE: NBG). The call sounds like it is one of stability on the surface, but S&P’s outlook is Negative. The long-term rating is CCC and the short-term rating is C.

S&P’s call is based on the bank’s plan announced in mid-April to raise some 2.5 billion euro in new capital. The Negative outlook is based on S&P’s anticipation that this will not create a sufficient cushion to cover the impact of the high credit losses the ratings agency expects. This pertains to NBG’s “large and increasing stock of nonperforming and restructured assets,” which are likely to have on NBG’s solvency.

The affirmed rating includes an expectation that the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund will be willing and able to provide NBG with additional liquidity support from the European Central Bank.

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S&P shows that the Negative outlook reflects a possibility that the ratings agency could downgrade NBG over the coming 18 months to 24 months if it believes an insufficient capital and liquidity will create a default.

One date to watch is May 10, 2014. This is the date of the extraordinary meeting to decide on the capital increase’s final amount. NBG is also said to be proceeding with asset sales already committed to under the restructuring plan with the European Commission.

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The last sell-off was not kind to NBG shares. The New York ADSs had recovered to back above $5.75 in early April, but now they are down at $4.35, against an adjusted 52-week range of $2.85 to $24.70.