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Fitch acts on Yapı ve Kredi following UniCredit's planned stake cut

Fitch Ratings on Dec. 13 took ratings actions on Yapı ve Kredi Bankası AŞ and its subsidiaries following Italian banking group UniCredit SpA's decision to reduce its stake in the Turkish lender.

The agency affirmed the B+ long-term foreign-currency issuer default ratings of Yapı ve Kredi and those of units Yapı Kredi Finansal Kiralama AO, Yapı Kredi Faktoring AŞ and Yapı Kredi Yatırım Menkul Değerler AŞ and revised the outlook on the ratings to negative from stable.

Fitch also downgraded their long-term local-currency issuer default ratings to B+ from BB- and their national scale ratings to A+(tur) from AA(tur), all with stable outlooks.

In late November, UniCredit announced the sale of its 50% stake in special purpose vehicle Koç Finansal Hizmetler AŞ to Koç Group, in a deal that would reduce the Italian lender's stake in Yapı ve Kredi to 31.93%. The transaction is expected to complete in the first half of 2020.

Fitch said the ownership change reduces UniCredit's propensity to provide support to Yapı ve Kredi. At the same time, the agency believes Koç Group will have a high propensity to provide support to Yapı ve Kredi considering the bank's strategic importance to the group and Koç's history of support to date. However, the Turkish group's ability to provide support cannot be reliably assessed by Fitch, it noted.

The outlook change to negative reflects the downside risks to Yapı ve Kredi's stand-alone profile, given the risks stemming from its operating environment. The stable outlook on the other ratings, meanwhile, mirrors that on Turkey.

Concurrently, Fitch assigned Yapı ve Kredi a support floor of B, reflecting potential support from Turkish authorities in case of need given the bank's systemic importance. However, potential state support in foreign currency is expected to be limited given Turkey's modest net foreign-currency reserves, the agency noted.

All of the entities' B short-term foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings and 4 support ratings were affirmed, along with Yapı ve Kredi's B+/B long- and short-term senior unsecured debt ratings.