Credit agency downgrades two French banks

Credit rating of Societe Generale and Credit Agricole cut by Moody's because of their exposure to Greek debt.

    Societe Generale has a total exposure to Greek government and commercial debts equal to 6.6bn euros [EPA]

    Credit rating agency Moody's has downgraded two French banks as worries grew about their potential exposure to the debts of Greece.

    Credit Agricole was cut from Aa1 to Aa2 and Societe Generale from Aa2 to Aa3.

    A third bank, BNP Paribas, was kept on review for a possible downgrade.

    The decision has been widely expected this week, as the agency had put the banks review for downgrade in mid-June.

    Following the downgrade announcement, Societe Generale said Moody's analysis shows that the bank's exposure to Greece "to be modest and manageable".

    Earlier this week, Societe Generale's chief executive, Frederic Oudea, said that the bank was prepared for a downgrade and that it would not change its outlook.

    The downgrades come as Europe scrambles to deal with the Greek debt crisis amid mounting fears that the debt-laden nation may have to default.

    Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, and Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, are due to speak with George Papandreou, the Greek prime minister in a teleconference to discuss the crisis.

    French banks have been in the spotlight in recent days over their potential exposure to Greece.

    Credit Agricole and Societe Generale have seen their share prices fall 60 per cent and 65 per cent respectively since February, while BNP has fallen 53 per cent over the same period.

    Both BNP Paribas and Societe Generale have rushed out statements in recent days to clarify the extent of their exposure to Greece and other troubled eurozone economies.

    Moody's backed up the two banks, saying they both had enough capital to provide "an adequate cushion to support its Greek, Portuguese and Irish exposures".

    Societe Generale has a total exposure to Greek government and commercial debts equal to 6.6bn euros, while Credit Agricole has 27bn euros, according to their disclosures to the European Banking Authority.

    For BNP Paribas the total is 8.5bn euros.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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