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BOC keeps S&P ratings despite share fall
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Standard & Poor's Ratings said yesterday it was maintaining its ratings and outlook on Bank of China, unaffected by expectations of further losses stemming from the bank's subprime assets investment in the United States.


This is despite the shares of the lender tumbling on the Shanghai Stock Exchange even after the bank's denial on Tuesday of a profit drop or even a loss due to the worsening subprime loans. The lender was the only financial player whose shares fell yesterday.


Shares of BOC shed 2.88 percent to 6.07 yuan (84 US cents) yesterday in Shanghai while the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index rose 3.14 percent, or 143.30 points, to 4,703.05.


BOC has set aside provisions of US$794 million as of the end of September 2007, and S&P expects this to increase to cover revaluation losses because market conditions have significantly deteriorated in the fourth quarter.


However, S&P does not expect the related losses to put pressure on the current A-/Stable/A-2 ratings and outlook on the bank.


"An improving business profile, sound liquidity, and satisfactory core earnings capability supported by good interest margins and largely stable credit costs in major operating markets continue to underpin BOC's credit profile," the ratings agency said.


She Minhua, a China Securities banking analyst, said he maintained the rating of "add" on BOC.


"Even if there are higher provisions against subprime assets, it is not a big hit," said She.


The bank is due to release its 2007 report on March 26.


(Shanghai Daily January 24, 2008)

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