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Fitch upgrades First National of Nebraska, Cathay Bank, Wintrust


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Fitch upgrades First National of Nebraska, Cathay Bank, Wintrust

Fitch Ratings on Dec. 15 upgraded three banks following a mid-tier regional bank review.

First National of Nebraska Inc.'s and subsidiary First National Bank of Omaha's issuer default ratings were raised, with their long-term IDRs now BBB, instead of BBB- and their short-term IDRs now F2, up from F3. The tweak reflects the decrease in credit card risk appetite, as demonstrated by the Omaha, Neb.-based company's decision to no longer market its volatile national card portfolio but to keep growing its co-branded book.

The ratings outlook was lowered to "stable" from "positive."

Fitch, meanwhile, upgraded Los Angeles-based Cathay Bank's long-term IDR to BBB- from BB+ and its short-term IDR to F3 from B. Parent company Cathay General Bancorp's long- and short-term IDRs were affirmed at BB+ and B, respectively. The rating agency noted Cathay "is one of the most efficient banks" in the country and that it has recorded "continued provision releases," thanks to its asset quality.

The outlook was revised upward to "stable" from "positive."

Fitch also upgraded Wintrust Financial Corp.'s long-term IDR to BBB+ from BBB, while affirming its short-term IDR at F2. The upgrade reflects the Rosemont, Ill.-based company's "consistent strategy," diversified balance sheet and its history of "methodically and strategically" expanding through M&A.

The outlook is stable.

In addition, Fitch affirmed Synovus Financial Corp. and BankUnited Inc.'s ratings.

Columbus, Ga.-based Synovus and Synovus Bank kept their long-term IDRs of BBB- and their short-term IDRs of F3. The outlook was revised to "positive" from "stable," due to the benefits from the company's strategic initiatives and the current credit and interest rate environments.

Miami Lakes, Fla.-based BankUnited and BankUnited NA maintained their long-term IDRs of BBB and their short-term IDRs of F2. The outlook, however, was lowered to "negative" from "stable," reflecting "slower than anticipated" progress in hitting profitability targets.

Also affirmed were the ratings of Tulsa, Okla.-based BOK Financial Corp. and BOKF NA (long-term IDRs at A, short-term IDRs at F1); Kansas City, Mo.-based UMB Financial Corp. and UMB Bank NA (A/F1); Portland, Ore.-based Umpqua Holdings Corp. and Umpqua Bank (BBB+/F2); Jackson, Miss.-based Trustmark Corp. and Trustmark National Bank (BBB+/F2); Lancaster, Pa.-based Fulton Financial Corp. and Fulton Bank NA (BBB+/F2); Dallas-based Hilltop Holdings Inc. and PlainsCapital Corp. (BBB/F2); Pasadena, Calif.-based East West Bancorp Inc. and East West Bank (BBB/F2); and Memphis, Tenn.-based First Horizon National Corp. and First Tennessee Bank NA (BBB-/F3).

The outlook for their ratings stayed "stable," except for First Horizon's, which was maintained at "positive."