Agencies: Fitch drops Japan regional bank rating
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BANKING

Agencies: Fitch drops Japan regional bank rating

Reasons for withdrawal not stated; Culmination of agency’s bearishness on sector

Fitch Ratings has withdrawn its ratings on a large number of Japan’s regional banks, apparently signalling a large cutback by the agency in its Japan business.

number of Japanese banks Fitch is dropping from its coverage

number of Japanese banks Fitch is dropping from its coverage

In a series of announcements between February 24 and April 15, the agency said that it was simultaneously affirming and withdrawing credit ratings on a list of banks that included Tokyo-based Shinsei and Aozora banks, as well as Resona Bank and a number of regional banks including Hokkaido Bank, Fukuoka Bank and Chiba Bank. In total the agency had cut 14 banks from its coverage, saying in each case that the bank was "no longer considered by the agency to be relevant to its coverage".

The agency has been bearish on the sector for some time, noting in a report published on December 20 last year that Japan’s large regional banks faced severe challenges in a weak macroeconomic environment with "banking opportunities muted in Japan’s deflationary economy".

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The agency’s decision might not have an immediate impact on either the issuers or investors, since the banks in question are covered by other ratings agencies – both Shinsei and Aozora, for example, have ratings from domestic agencies JCR and R&I as well as Fitch’s international rivals Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s.

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