S&P warns of Possible Downgrades in SEE over Greek Crisis

Finance | June 24, 2015, Wednesday // 20:10|  views

Photo by EPA/BGNES

Credit rating agency Standard and Poor's has warned of a possible downgrade of Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Romania, and Serbia if the Greek crisis affects the banking systems of these countries.

According to S&P, a Greek exit from the eurozone would make Greek lenders bankrupt, triggering a domino effect on their subsidiaries.

The credit rating agency, as cited by Reuters, underscores that Greek banks own “systemically important” banks in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania, Romania, and Serbia.

Greece's Alpha Bank has the biggest geographic spread across the region with arms in Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Albania and Macedonia.

Eurobank Ergasias and Piraeus Bank are both in Romania and Bulgaria with the former also in Serbia.

S&P currently rates Bulgaria at BB+ with a stable outlook, Romania BBB- stable, Macedonia BB- stable, Albania B positive and Serbia BB- with a negative outlook.

According to S&P, the market shares of Greek banks' subsidiaries in Romania and Serbia are estimated at around 15% and in Bulgaria and Macedonia at over 20%.

On June 12, Standard & Poor's Ratings Services affirmed its 'BB+/B' long- and short-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings on Bulgaria. “The outlook is stable,” the rating agency said on its website.

“The ratings are constrained by Bulgaria's relatively low income levels, weak governance, worsening demographics, exchange rate regime, and high proportion of non-lev-denominated loans, which limits the central bank's ability to act as a lender of last resort. The ratings are supported by low, albeit rising, general government debt,” according to S&P Ratings Services.

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Tags: Standard & Poor's, Standard & Poor's Ratings Service, credit rating, Grexit, Greek crisis, Eurozone, Southeast Europe


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