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ICRA downgrades ratings, outlook on Yes Bank, 2 Reliance Capital arms

PTI     May 4, 2019

Private sector lender Yes Bank had a double-whammy Saturday after domestic rating agency Icra downgraded its long-term ratings along with a negative outlook, citing a spike in its lower-rated advances and falling core capital buffers.

The agency also downgraded the short-term ratings on two entities of the Anil Ambani-led Reliance Capital - Reliance Home Finance and Reliance Commercial Finance.

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In case of Yes Bank, the agency downgraded the ratings on six instruments totalling borrowings over Rs 33,000 crore by the lender, after it had last week reported a surge in BB and below-rated advances in the March quarter to 7.1 per cent under a new chief executive Ravneet Gill, Icra said.

The bank had also reported its maiden loss of over Rs 1,506 crore in the March quarter, driven by a near ten-fold spike in provisions.

The rating action comes after the agency placed the ratings under watch with negative implications last November, after the Reserve Bank refused to let Yes Bank's promoter- chief executive Rana Kapoor to continue beyond January 31, citing corporate governance and other concerns, which ultimately led to Gill's appointment in March.

Since the earnings announcement, the bank's shares had lost over 35 per cent of value, with a 30 per cent fall on the very next day of trade.

The bank has set aside a large sum of Rs 2,100 crore as contingent provisions for this exposure and also guided towards an elevated capital cost of 1.25 per cent in FY20, the agency said.

The agency said the rating action also factors in a further weakening in its core equity capital cushions because of the voluntary provisions and the Rs 1,506-crore loss in the March quarter.

The CET-I ratio declined to 8.4 per cent as of March from 9.1 per cent in December, it said, noting that it is higher than the regulatory requirement of 7.375 per cent.

Gill's guidance on a focus on granularisation of liabilities, which will reduce the elevated cost of funds, along with its strong deposit base was noted as among the positives for the bank.

However, the outlook on the ratings continues to be negative.

"With a sizable increase in the share of BB and below-rated advances and the weakened capital cushions, rating outlook remains negative," Icra said.

"The ability to reduce low-rated advances and improve the CET-I capital cushion along with diversifying the advances and liabilities will result in a change in the outlook to stable from negative," it added.

For the Anil Ambani-run Reliance Home Finance, where the agency has an outstanding rating on a Rs 1,200 crore commercial paper program, the rating has been downgraded to junk grade of D from A4 with rating watch on negative implications.

Even though there has been no delay in honouring CP commitments, the call takes into account debt servicing on some bank lines, the agency said.

Similar action has been taken in the case of Reliance Commercial Finance's CPs as well, which has been downgraded to D from A4 due to debt servicing issues.

It can be noted that following adverse actions by rating agencies recently, there were reports saying the Anil Ambani-group is looking at stake sales in some of the companies.

The rating actions come days after banker Uday Kotak warned that the financial sector is passing through turbulent times and the next six months are crucial.

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