London 19 April 2010: The Kleinwort Benson Group announced today the achievement of its first credit rating as a stand alone entity. The independent credit rating takes Kleinwort Benson a critical step closer to becoming the UK and Channel Islands’ leading wealth manager and financial services provider. The credit rating is another positive milestone as Kleinwort Benson moves towards the completion of its sale to RHJ International S.A. (RHJI)
Moody’s Investors Service today assigned Baa2/Prime-2 long and short term deposit ratings and a bank financial strength rating (BFSR) of C- to the two banking entities in the Kleinwort Benson Group: the UK-based Kleinwort Benson Private Bank Limited and the CI-based Kleinwort Benson (Channel Islands) Limited. The outlook for all ratings is stable.
The short term rating applies to all deposits with maturity of up to one year and the long term rating is applicable to deposits with a maturity exceeding one year. Client custodial and investment assets will continue to be segregated and are not affected by this announcement.
When looking at the stand alone creditworthiness of UK and Irish financial institutions (excluding those in receipt of extraordinary Government support) the Kleinwort Benson Group is one the best rated financial institutions in the UK and Channel Islands .
Moody’s judged the Kleinwort Benson Group to have a number of financial and organisational strengths, those primarily being strong capitalisation, excellent asset quality on a small loan book, a conservative risk management culture and a well entrenched and respected financial services franchise in the UK and Channel Islands.
Robert Taylor, Chief Executive of the Kleinwort Benson Group, believes that the positive Moody’s rating will provide clients with considerable reassurance regarding the security of their deposits.
“We are pleased with the Moody’s rating. It acknowledges our strong financial position and recognises that our new shareholder RHJI offers considerable equity capital to underpin our development. On completion of the sale, the Kleinwort Benson Group will be one of the most well capitalised businesses of our size in the financial services industry ,” he said.
Kleinwort Benson’s tier one capital ratio, which at over 20% is significantly in excess of typical banking regulatory requirements, places the wealth manager and financial services provider well above many organisations in the sector.
The Kleinwort Benson Group employs a conservative treasury management policy whereby its loan book is funded solely from the receipt of client deposits and is not reliant upon the wholesale credit markets.
New shareholder RHJI will further strengthen the Kleinwort Benson Group’s position by providing additional financial resources to underpin plans for future expansion and ensure continued stability.
As a publicly traded company, RHJI possesses a sizeable permanent capital structure and equity amounting to more than € 914 million. RHJI has a solid capital base with a healthy balance sheet. Over the coming years RHJI will dispose of its holdings in other companies and will reinvest this capital in the development of the Kleinwort Benson Group. Indeed, several key divestments have already been made to allow for further investment. RHJI’s management team has extensive experience in the global financial services industry and is already investing a significant amount of intellectual capital and expertise into the Kleinwort Benson Group.
The Moody’s rating is subject to the completion of the sale, which is subject to regulatory approval and is scheduled to take place before the end of July. Until that time the Kleinwort Benson Group maintains the full financial backing and support of its current shareholder Commerzbank AG.
RHJ International S.A. which is listed on the Belgian EURONEXT is acquiring the Kleinwort Benson Group and its historic financial services brand from Commerzbank AG, following the German bank’s decision in May 2009 to divest itself of its non-domestic wealth management businesses. RHJI is transforming itself from a diversified industrial holdings company into a business with an exclusive focus on banking and financial services. This will be done by divesting its industrial holdings over time and by further developing a strategic portfolio of financial services companies. The cornerstone of this transformation is the acquisition of the Kleinwort Benson Group.