Fitch drops Japan regional bank ratings
Fitch Ratings has withdrawn its ratings on a large number of Japan’s regional banks, apparently signalling a large cutback by the agency in its Japan business. In a series of announcements between February 24 and April 15, the agency announced that it was simultaneously affirming and withdrawing credit ratings on a list of banks that includes 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.”
The agency’s decision may 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.