Moody's Puts Europe's Top Banks on Rate Cut Watch


Moody's said Thursday it was reviewing some 114 European banks and financial groups, including many of the top firms, for a possible ratings downgrade because of the Eurozone debt crisis.

Germany's Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank were among two of the largest groups named, alongside Britain's HSBC and Royal Bank of Scotland, ING of the Netherlands, Spain's Santander and Italy's Unicredit.

In France, BNP Paribas, Societe Generale, Credit Agricole and Natixis among others will be reviewed, it added in a statement.

In all, Moody's Investors Service, one of the top three ratings agencies, put 24 groups in Italy on review, followed by 21 in Spain, 10 in France, nine in Britain, eight in Austria and eight in Denmark, seven in Germany, and six each in Portugal and the Netherlands.

It said it was also looking at five companies in Sweden, four in Slovenia, two in Switzerland and one each in Finland, Norway, Belgium and Luxembourg.

Moody's announced in January that it would likely cut the ratings of several banks, especially in Europe, given the strains in the economy caused by the debt crisis.

On Monday, it downgraded its sovereign debt ratings on Italy, Spain and Portugal and put France, Britain and Austria on negative outlook, meaning they could be cut too.

Ratings were also cut for Slovenia, Slovakia and Malta, with Moody's saying all nine countries were now more susceptible to increasing financial and macroeconomic risks from the euro area crisis.

Moody's said that Europe's weakening economic prospects "threaten the implementation of domestic austerity programs and the structural reforms that are needed to promote competitiveness."

The agency questioned the implementation of institutional reform in the euro area and whether adequate resources will be pulled together to deal with the crisis.