Fitch upgrades Greek banks’ viability ratings

Credit agency does not predict full lifting of capital controls

Fitch credit ratings agency has upgraded the Greek banks in light of the recent deal at the EuroGroup and the completion of the second review. Fitch has affirmed the Long-Term Issuer Default Ratings (IDRs) of National Bank of Greece S.A. (NBG), Alpha Bank AE (Alpha), Piraeus Bank S.A. (Piraeus) and Eurobank Ergasias S.A. (Eurobank) at ‘Restricted Default’ (RD). At the same time the agency has upgraded the four Greek banks’ Viability Ratings (VRs) to ‘ccc’ from ‘f’. The upgrade of the VRs reflects the banks’ improved liquidity and Fitch’s expectation that the completion of the second review of Greece’s third economic adjustment programme reduces political risks and will strengthen depositor and investor confidence in the Greek banking system. The banks’ IDRs of ‘RD’ reflect Fitch’s view that the Greek banks are defaulting on a material part of their senior obligations given that capital controls, through restrictions on deposit withdrawals, are still in place in Greece. Full lifting of capital controls is unlikely in the short term in Fitch’s view, but the agency expect gradual steps towards capital controls relaxation and in particular, gradual removal of restrictions on deposit withdrawals.