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Fitch acts on 4 Venezuelan banks following peer review

Fitch Ratings on Dec. 13 took action on the ratings of four Venezuelan banks following a peer review of the country's lenders, including an upgrade and a downgrade.

Fitch raised Banco Nacional de Crédito CA Banco Universal's national long-term rating to BBB(ven) from BBB-(ven), while affirming the bank's long-term issuer default rating at CCC. The upgrade reflects the lender's improved capitalization, stable asset quality and liquidity metrics that are more in line with its peers.

Meanwhile, the rating agency lowered Banesco Banco Universal CA's long-term national rating to A(ven) from A+(ven) and its short-term national rating to F1(ven) from F1+(ven). The bank's foreign and local currency issuer default ratings were affirmed at CCC. The downgrade reflects severe pressures on capitalization as the bank's internal capital generation has not kept pace with inflation-induced asset growth.

Both the upgrade on Banco Nacional de Credito and the downgrade on Banesco reflect "changing relativities and greater compression of bank ratings on the local scale, as well as increasing uniformity of performance amid shared operating challenges," Fitch said.

The rating agency affirmed Banco del Caribe CA Banco Universal's issuer default ratings at CCC. It also affirmed Banco Occidental de Descuento SACA's foreign and local currency issuer default ratings at CCC.

Fitch noted that there has been no material change in the company profile or performance of Banco del Caribe and Banco Occidental since the last review.

The viability ratings of all four banks were affirmed at "ccc," while their support ratings were affirmed at 5.