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Fitch Ratings affirms ratings for First Bancorp.

New York: Fitch Ratings, a nationally recognized statistical rating organization (NRSRO) designated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, affirmed the ratings for First Bancorp (FBP), including its 'B-' Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR), 'B' Short-Term IDR and 'b-' Viability Rating (VR).

In addition, the ratings have been removed from Negative Watch and assigned a Stable Rating Outlook. Fitch placed FBP's ratings on Rating Watch Negative on Oct. 5, 2017, due to the uncertainty of the impact caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria on Puerto Rico in September 2017.

It believes the initial impact on FBP from hurricanes Irma and Maria was manageable, and disclosures from the U.S. Federal Government and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico have brought greater visibility into the short-term impact of the storms, resulting in the removal of the Rating Watch Negative. The Stable Outlook reflects uncertainty over the medium- and long-term effects the hurricane may have on financial performance, which is already captured at the current rating level.

FBP's ratings continue to be constrained by a challenging and uncertain operating environment. The hurricanes have complicated the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico's efforts to reverse outward migration, generate sustainable economic growth, and address its fiscal and debt imbalances. Additionally, the reduction in the federal corporate tax rate in the U.S. makes Puerto Rico less attractive on a relative basis. However, rebuilding efforts and a federal aid package from the U.S. government could have a positive short-to-medium-term impact on the island's economy. Longer-term prospects for the islands economy, outside the current rating time horizon, depend heavily on the effectiveness of fiscal and structural reforms.

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Publication:Daily the Pak Banker (Lahore, Pakistan)
Date:Aug 3, 2018
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