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Founded in 1472, world's oldest bank downgraded to junk status

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 6th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Founded in 1472, the world's oldest bank has been downgraded to junk status by Standard & Poor. Troubled Italian bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena, founded in 1472, is the world's oldest surviving lender has been put down to speculative-grade status of BB+ from BBB-.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - S & P Standard cut its credit rating for the bank earlier this week and also placed the bank on negative outlook.

"Deteriorating trends in Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena's financial position make it unlikely that the bank would restore profitability and improve its capital and funding position in line with our previous expectations.

"The difficult economic and operating environment we anticipate in the Italian market will compound the challenges for MPS to implement successfully its business plan," the agency said in a statement.

The bank's profitability could continue to be under pressure through 2013 despite its efforts to reduce costs.

It's said that there is a very real risk that the bank might not be able to proceed with its planned 1.0-billion-euro ($1.3-billion) capital increase in 2014.

Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena S.p.A. is the oldest surviving bank in the world and Italy's third largest bank. Founded in 1472 by the Magistrate of the city state of Siena, Italy, as a mount of piety, it has been operating ever since. Today it consists of approximately 3,000 branches, 33,000 employees and 4.5 million customers in Italy, as well as branches and businesses abroad. A subsidiary, MPS Finance, handles investment banking.

In the wake of rising yields and declining valuations on Italian government debt in the European sovereign-debt crisis, MPS lost over $2 billion in the first half of 2012, had to recapitalize, and faced restructuring or worse. The majority owner until the recapitalization, the Fondazione Monte dei Paschi di Siena long resisted issuing new capital which would dilute its holding. In September 2012, even after the dilution, the bank "appear[ed] poised" also to give the national government a greater ownership stake in return for more capital.

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