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VTB Bank comments on ratings action by Fitch Ratings

10 January 2014

VTB Bank comments on ratings action by Fitch Ratings ©

VTB Bank notes the announcement issued today by Fitch Ratings.

VTB Bank does not have contractual relationship with Fitch Ratings, hence the agency does not have the same access to the Bank’s non-public information as other rating agencies to make qualified assessments of VTB’s creditworthiness. This calls into question the value of the agency’s view for the market participants. In our opinion the most appropriate course of action for Fitch would be withdrawal of VTB Bank’s ratings.

VTB also notes the incorrect and misleading assertion on Fitch Ratings’ website as of 10 January 2014 that the agency’s ratings were solicited by VTB. Fitch assigns ratings to VTB entirely on its own initiative and with no analytic interaction between VTB and the agency.

Back in 2012 VTB terminated the contract with Fitch in order to optimize the rating process. The agency was informed of the bank’s decision in a timely manner some months before the start of 2013.
VTB’s decision was motivated primarily by the bank’s opinion that the ratings process and policies of Fitch Ratings are less effective than those of other ratings agencies, and also by the unprofessional approach of the agency’s Russian banking team. VTB believes that Fitch Ratings’ analysts lack the qualifications and resources to make a competent interpretation of the data, and that the agency’s Russian office focuses primarily on PR stunts and lurid public statements rather than a balanced and impartial analysis for the market professionals.

Following VTB’s decision to terminate its relationship with Fitch, the agency undertook a series of negative rating actions on the ratings of VTB and its subsidiaries, including a revision of the outlook in early 2013 and subsequent downgrade of the bank’s main credit rating, as well as a string of biased media comments. We consider this an attempt to exert pressure on VTB, which had previously been one of the agency’s largest clients in Russia and the CIS.

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