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Fitch Upgrades Dominican Republic's Banco BHD.

NEW YORK -- Fitch Ratings, the international rating agency, has today upgraded Banco BHD's (BHD) long-term foreign currency rating to 'B-' (Outlook Stable) from 'CCC+' and the short-term foreign currency rating to 'B' from 'C'. At the same time, the bank's individual 'D' and support '5' ratings were affirmed. Long and short-term local currency ratings of 'B' and 'B', respectively, were assigned for the first time.

The bank's national long- and short-term ratings were upgraded to 'A(dom)' from 'A-(dom)' and to 'F1(dom)' from 'F2(dom)'. The upgrades reflect the recent sovereign rating upgrade and the adequate performance of the bank following the severe deterioration of the operating environment during 2003 and 2004. BHD's ratings reflect its diversified retail deposit base, significant market share, adequate liquidity, competent management, and its robust shareholder structure. However, the ratings also consider the bank's weakening asset quality and profitability, as well as its thin capital levels within a competitive operating environment.

BHD's strategy following the economic turmoil in the Dominican Republic of the past few years has focused on enhancing its financial profile rather than increasing market share. During 2003 and 2004, the bank undertook significant efforts to reduce its foreign currency denominated loan portfolio while implementing a proactive credit collections policy. Also, the bank focused on improving treasury activities to manage its ample liquidity position.

As of March 2005, BHD ranked third out of 12 commercial banks in the Dominican Republic, with a 12% market share by total assets. Grupo BHD, which controls 60% of Centro Financiero BHD, the bank's holding company, is one of the largest economic groups in the Dominican Republic. BHD enjoys close cooperation with Banco Sabadell of Spain and Banco Popular de Puerto Rico (Popular PR), which together control the remaining 40% of Centro Financiero BHD.

Fitch's rating definitions and the terms of use of such ratings are available on the agency's public site, Published ratings, criteria and methodologies are available from this site, at all times. Fitch's code of conduct, confidentiality, conflicts of interest, affiliate firewall, compliance and other relevant policies and procedures are also available from the 'Code of Conduct' section of this site.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Sep 6, 2005
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