DBRS Ratings GmbH (DBRS Morningstar) confirmed the ratings of Société Générale, S.A. (SocGen or the Group), including the Long-Term Issuer Rating of A (high) and the Short-Term Issuer Rating of R-1 (middle). The trend on all ratings remains Stable. DBRS Morningstar has also maintained the Bank’s Intrinsic Assessment at A (high) and the Support Assessment at SA3. A full list of rating actions is included at the end of this press release.
KEY RATING CONSIDERATIONS
The confirmation of SocGen’s ratings reflects the Group’s well-established and diversified franchise as one of Europe’s largest banking groups. It also considers SocGen’s below peer profitability metrics and its ongoing work to overcome specific challenges through the rationalisation of its French Retail Banking business, risk reduction in CIB and the exit from Russia in 2022 following the invasion of Ukraine. The ratings are underpinned by robust funding and liquidity metrics as well as SocGen’s strong capital base, with ample buffers over regulatory requirements and solid total loss-absorbing capacity.
The rating action also reflects SocGen’s continued improvement in asset quality, supported by the Group’s well diversified risk profile. While asset quality has not shown signs of deterioration so far, we expect geopolitical tensions, rising interest rates and high inflation to lead to a rise in defaults, although we view SocGen’s solid asset quality metrics and overall risk profile to be key mitigating factors.
Despite the negative impact of the disposal of virtually all its Russian activities on net income, SocGen has continued to demonstrate solid capacity to generate earnings, which we view should continue in 2023.
An upgrade would occur from a sustained improvement of core profitability metrics, whilst maintaining a relatively low risk profile.
A downgrade would arise from a sustained decline in the Group’s profitability or a significant deterioration of its capital cushion.
Franchise Combined Building Block (BB) Assessment: Very Strong/Strong
SocGen’s ratings are underpinned by its well-established franchise as one of the largest banking groups in Europe with a strong market position in France, its home market. Reflecting a broad business mix and a significant international presence, the Group services its customers through three business divisions: French Retail Banking (FRB), International Banking and Financial Services (IBFS) and Global Banking and Investor Solutions (GBIS). The Group has undertaken a series of steps to optimise its franchise, such as the merger of its French retail networks Société Générale France and Crédit du Nord, to rationalise its domestic footprint and reduce costs. In addition, SocGen has continued to focus on GBIS’s restructuring plan, reducing RWAs through a rebalancing of the business mix, the reduction of the risk profile and cost optimisation. This restructuring has also been evidenced in asset and wealth management, with SocGen’s sale of Lyxor to Amundi. Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, SocGen disposed of all its Russian operations in Q2 2022.
Earnings Combined Building Block (BB) Assessment: Moderate
While profitability metrics remain below peers, SocGen reported EUR 2.0 billion net income in 2022 compared to EUR 5.6 billion in 2021 which were the Group’s strongest results in its history. Excluding exceptional elements, mainly the impact in 2022 of the disposal of Rosbank and its Russian subsidiaries, and at constant exchange rates, net income was up 7.9% YoY. This was mainly driven by strong revenue growth which absorbed higher operating expenses and the increase in loan loss provisions related to prudent provisioning on Stage 1 and Stage 2 loans reflecting the uncertain macroeconomic environment. We expect revenues to grow as a result of rising interest rates, especially in international retail banking, while operating expenses should increase as a result of inflationary pressures as we expect the benefit of cost synergies from the merger of the retail networks to appear at a later stage. Cost of risk should remain contained, although likely higher than in 2022.
Risk Combined Building Block (BB) Assessment: Good
DBRS Morningstar views SocGen’s risk profile as relatively conservative with some riskier components. DBRS Morningstar notes a lower than average exposure to the corporate and SME sectors compared to other European investment banks. Further to the equity derivatives loss in 2020, the Group has reorganised its capital markets activities. The Group has also disposed of Rosbank, its Russian retail and commercial bank, reducing uncertainties driven by geopolitical tensions following the Russian invasion of Ukraine. DBRS Morningstar notes the continued improvement in asset quality, reflecting a reduction in non-performing loans (NPL) and tighter origination standards. The share of NPLs in gross outstandings was 2.8%, down from 2.9% at end-2021 and 3.3% at end-2020, as Soc Gen has not yet experienced any signification deterioration in asset quality to date. Nevertheless, we expect a rise in defaults as a result of the current economic environment.
Funding and Liquidity Combined Building Block (BB) Assessment: Strong
SocGen’s funding profile remains strong, with customer deposits representing the major part of the Group’s funding. The exposure to wholesale funding is mitigated by good access to the markets, well diversified funding sources and strong liquidity. The unencumbered liquid asset buffer was EUR 279 billion at end-2022, unencumbered liquid asset buffer was EUR 279 billion at end- 2022, comfortably above regulatory minimums. The LCR ratio was a comfortable 145% on average in Q4 2022 and the Group reported an NSFR of 114% for the same period.
Capitalisation Combined Building Block (BB) Assessment: Strong/Good
DBRS Morningstar views SocGen’s capital as solid and the Group’s capital has been generally on an upward trend in recent years. The Group had a phased-in CET1 ratio of 13.5% at end-2022. SocGen also reported a phased-in total capital ratio of 19.3% at end-2022. This provides the Group with ample cushions of 414 bps and 554 bps over the SREP regulatory requirements for CET1 and Total Capital. The leverage ratio was 4.4% at end-2022 compared to 4.9% a year ago. Additionally, SocGen has been actively building its loss absorption capacity and at end-2022, the buffer of Senior Non-Preferred debt was equivalent to 10.8% of RWAs and the Group’s TLAC ratio was 30.5%, well above the 2023 requirements of 22.1%. The MREL ratio was also in excess of the 2023 requirements of 25.7% of RWAs.
Further details on the Scorecard Indicators and Building Block Assessments can be found at https://www.dbrsmorningstar.com/research/413023
ENVIRONMENTAL, SOCIAL, GOVERNANCE CONSIDERATIONS
Governance (G) Factors
The G factor have changed from the prior credit rating disclosure. The “Bribery, Corruption, and Political Risks” subfactor was previously marked as Relevant to reflect the political risks and reputational impact that arose from the Group’s Russian operations. However, following the Group’s exit from Russia through the sale of Rosbank in 2022, we no longer consider this subfactor to be relevant to the rating of the Group.
There were no Environmental/ Social/ Governance factor(s) that had a significant or relevant effect on the credit analysis
A description of how DBRS Morningstar considers ESG factors within the DBRS Morningstar analytical framework can be found in the DBRS Morningstar Criteria: Approach to Environmental, Social, and Governance Risk Factors in Credit Ratings at https://www.dbrsmorningstar.com/research/396929/dbrs-morningstar-criteria-approach-to-environmental-social-and-governance-risk-factors-in-credit-ratings. (May 17, 2022).
All figures are in EUR unless otherwise noted.
The principal methodology is the Global Methodology for Rating Banks and Banking Organisations https://www.dbrsmorningstar.com/research/398692 (June 23, 2022). In addition DBRS Morningstar uses the DBRS Morningstar Criteria: Approach to Environmental, Social, and Governance Risk Factors in Credit Ratings, https://www.dbrsmorningstar.com/research/396929/dbrs-morningstar-criteria-approach-to-environmental-social-and-governance-risk-factors-in-credit-ratings in its consideration of ESG factors.
The following methodologies have also been applied
DBRS Morningstar Global Criteria: Guarantees and Other Forms of Support https://www.dbrsmorningstar.com/research/411694/dbrs-morningstar-global-criteria-guarantees-and-other-forms-of-support (March 28, 2023)
The credit rating methodologies used in the analysis of this transaction can be found at: https://www.dbrsmorningstar.com/about/methodologies
The sources of information used for this rating include Morningstar Inc. and Company Documents, SocGen Q4 2022 Presentation, SocGen Q4 2022 Excel File, SocGen Q4 2022 Press Release and SocGen 2023 Universal Registration Document. DBRS Morningstar considers the information available to it for the purposes of providing this rating to be of satisfactory quality.
With respect to FCA and ESMA regulations in the United Kingdom and European Union, respectively, this is an unsolicited credit rating. This credit rating was not initiated at the request of the issuer.
With Rated Entity or Related Third-Party Participation: YES
With Access to Internal Documents: NO
With Access to Management: NO
DBRS Morningstar does not audit the information it receives in connection with the rating process, and it does not and cannot independently verify that information in every instance.
The conditions that lead to the assignment of a Negative or Positive trend are generally resolved within a 12-month period. DBRS Morningstar's outlooks and ratings are under regular surveillance.
For further information on DBRS Morningstar historical default rates published by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) in a central repository, see: https://cerep.esma.europa.eu/cerep-web/statistics/defaults.xhtml. For further information on DBRS Morningstar historical default rates published by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in a central repository, see https://data.fca.org.uk/#/ceres/craStats.
The sensitivity analysis of the relevant key rating assumptions can be found at: https://www.dbrsmorningstar.com/research/413021
This rating is endorsed by DBRS Ratings Limited for use in the United Kingdom.
Lead Analyst: Arnaud Journois, Vice President – Global FIG
Rating Committee Chair: Elisabeth Rudman, Managing Director – Head of Group FIG
Initial Rating Date: July 26, 2001
Last Rating Date: April 25, 2022
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