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Banking: Fitch cuts more Asia bank ratings

Fitch Ratings has withdrawn yet more individual ratings for Asian banks, in what appears to be a definite change of strategy for the agency.

Following its withdrawal of 14 Japanese banks, as reported in May (see Agencies: Fitch drops Japan regional bank ratingEuromoney May 2011), Fitch has further reduced its coverage, with banks from countries including India, Indonesia and the Philippines among those cut.

Some of the banks involved are leading institutions, such as Metrobank, by some measure the largest in the Philippines, but most of the ratings withdrawn so far are those of smaller regional banks.

No longer relevant

In each case, the agency has made the announcement with a standardized phrase, saying it has stopped coverage of a bank because the rating is "no longer considered by Fitch to be relevant to the agency’s coverage". When asked by Euromoney what these rollbacks mean for the agency’s coverage in Asia, and whether investors can expect further cuts in coverage, Fitch initially had no comment. The agency later called Euromoney to clarify that the withdrawals are part of it’s introduction of viability ratings, and that the banks whose ratings had been cut will still be covered at a national level.

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