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Fitch acts on 13 Nigerian banks

Fitch Ratings on July 11 acted on 13 Nigerian banksfollowing the June 23 downgrade of Nigeria's sovereign rating.

Fitch downgraded to B from B+ the long-term foreign-currencyissuer default ratings of FirstBank of Nigeria Ltd. and United Bank for Africa Plc, which carry stable outlooks.The agency also revised to stable from negative the outlook on 's B+ long-termforeign-currency issuer default rating.

Fitch also revised the support rating floors of the threebanks, plus Zenith BankPlc, to B from B+, while affirming their short-termforeign-currency issuer default ratings, viability ratings and support ratings.It said the support rating floor revisions for the four systemically importantbanks reflect the sovereign downgrade.

The national long- and short-term ratings of were downgraded to BBB+(nga)/ F2(nga) from A(nga)/ F1(nga), with its issuerdefault, viability and support ratings and support rating floor all affirmed.

Fitch also affirmed the long- and short-termforeign-currency issuer default, national long- and short-term, viability andsupport ratings and support rating floors of Access Bank Plc, Diamond Bank Plc, Union Bank of Nigeria Plc, , andWema Bank Plc.

Also affirmed were the national long- and short-term ratingsof Standard Bank GroupLtd. units StanbicIBTC Bank Plc and StanbicIBTC Holdings Plc.

Fitch said asset quality in Nigerian banks has continued toweaken since its last review in February, with impairments rising in lenders'commercial, trading and manufacturing books. NPLs are rising in the oil sectoras well, Fitch said, but most of the larger troublesome loans are beingrestructured.

Fitch also warned that the recent devaluation of theNigerian naira is likely to lead to increased loan impairments, although itsaid banks' strong regulatory capital ratios have helped them absorb theone-off effects.