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HDFC Bank’s AT1 bonds get Moody’s Ba3 rating


MUMBAI: HDFC Bank‘s proposed Additional Tier 1 (AT1) bonds have been rated Ba3, three notches below their deposit ratings by Moody’s, with limited likelihood of any rating upgrade in the next 12-18 months due to possible weakness in sovereign rating and the likelihood of rising bad assets in the Indian financial system.

The bank will be the first private sector lender to offer those quasi-equity securities offshore if it finally launches the overseas sale that is expected to open for subscription in the next 7 days.

HDFC Bank will likely set a benchmark for many other local lenders including

, and Axis Bank.

S&P is also expected to come out with a similar rating grade for HDFC Bank’s AT1 series.

The initial guidance is likely to be less than 4 per cent, although it could finally settle anything between 3.5 per cent and 4 per cent, said people familiar with the matter. The size of the issue is expected to be in the range of $500 million to $1 billion depending on investor demand, ET reported on July 29.

“Roadshows have just begun across the world,” one of the persons cited above said.

In between, there were hard negotiations for the pricing particularly after a Thai bank raised AT1 at about 4 per cent two weeks ago.

The borrower is actually looking for 3.5 per cent, which looks tough. Still, there will be good demand for any paper series, branded with the HDFC mark, dealers said.

HDFC Bank and individual investment bankers could not be contacted immediately for comments.

Nearly a dozen banks have been appointed to help the proposed bond sale. Those banks include Barclays, Bank of America, Citi, HSBC, JP Morgan, Standard Chartered, MUFG, Sofgen, BNP Paribas and Morgan Stanley.

AT1, also known as perpetual bonds, add to banks’ capital base unlike perpetual papers issued by any corporate. Such securities do not have any fixed maturity but generally have a five-year call option that allows an exit route for investors.

“The Ba3 (hyb) rating is three notches below HDFC Bank’s baa3 Baseline Credit Assessment (BCA) and Adjusted BCA, reflecting the probability of impairment associated with non-cumulative coupon suspension, as well as the likelihood of high loss severity when the bank reaches the point of non-viability,” Moody’s said in a report Monday.

The principal and any accrued but unpaid distributions on these capital securities would be written down, partially or in full, if HDFC Bank’s common equity tier 1 (CET1) ratio is at or below 5.5 per cent any time prior to 1 October 2021, and 6.125 per cent from and including 1st October, 2021.

In such a scenario, the write-down may be temporary, and the amount could be reinstated subject to the Reserve Bank of India‘s (RBI) conditions, Moody’s said.

“A lowering of HDFC Bank’s BCA (Baseline Credit Assessment) will lead to a rating downgrade of the proposed AT1 securities,” Moody’s added.



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