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Moody's upgrades Belfius Banque, revises outlook

Moody's on March 29 upgraded to A2 from A3 the long-term senior unsecured debt and deposit ratings of Belfius Banque SA and the backed senior unsecured rating of Belfius Financing Co. SA.

The outlooks on the ratings of both entities were revised to positive from stable, and their short-term ratings were upgraded to Prime-1 from Prime-2.

Belfius Banque's baseline and adjusted baseline credit assessments were upgraded to "baa2" from "baa3", reflecting its improving financial profile, bringing it back in line with its main Belgian peers. Moody's also upgraded the lender's long-term counterparty risk assessment to A1(cr) from A2(cr), while its short-term counterparty risk assessment was affirmed at Prime-1(cr).

At the same time, the rating agency revised Belgium's macro profile downward to "Very Strong-" from "Very Strong", reflecting a slightly weaker operating environment following Moody's reduced GDP growth forecast in Belgium.

Moody's said the weighted macro profiles of ING België NV and AXA Bank Europe SA are affected by the revision, with both moving to "Very Strong-" from "Very Strong". However, Moody's said this does not have a material effect on the banks' intrinsic credit strength, and the agency therefore affirmed ING België's "baa1" baseline credit assessment and A1 long-term deposit rating, as well as the "baa3" baseline credit assessment and A2 long-term deposit rating of AXA Bank Europe.

The agency also affirmed AXA Bank Europe's Aa2(cr)/P-1(cr) long-term and short-term counterparty risk assessments, P-1 short-term bank deposit rating and "a2" adjusted baseline credit assessment. Also affirmed were ING België's Aa3(cr)/P-1(cr) long-term and short-term counterparty risk assessments, its P-1 short-term bank deposit rating and its "baa1" adjusted baseline credit assessment.

The outlooks on the long-term ratings of ING Belgium and AXA Bank Europe remain stable.