The global ratings firm Standard&Poor’s has downgraded the long-run credit rating of three domestic banks – the Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam (BIDV), the Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank) and Vietnam Technical and Commercial JS Bank (Techcombank) from BB – to B+.

The short-term rating of the three banks was maintained at B.

The downgrade was announced after S&P applied new methodology on evaluating the banking sector generally. The downgrade was attributed to the volatility of the Vietnam economy. In August S&P downgraded Vietnam from BB to BB-.

BIDV and Vietcombank were assessed to have very weak capital and profit, while Techcombank was ranked in the weak bank group. S&P expected that Techcombank’s ratio of capital adjusted based on related risks would be stable at 3.5 percent in next 12-18 months while the ratio of Vietcombank was forecast to be 2.5-3 percent. BIDV now belongs to the very weak group.

BIDV chairman Tran Bac Ha said during the bank’s roadshow on Dec. 10 that the S&P downgrade on the long-term credit rating of BIDV was due to changes in S&P methodology. It was not due to BIDV’s finance capacity. Ha said the ongoing IPO would help it maintain a stable rating.

S&P assessed the potential of Techcombank at the stable level, while BIDV and Vietcombank potential dropped to negative.

According to the rating agency, Techcombank will continue its defensive strategy by increasing debts at a modest pace and less risky assets in a challenging economy with high inflation in Vietnam.

A BIDV official said the move to re-examine the rating of 44 banks in Asia Pacific according to a new evaluation methodology was announced in November by S&P. Accordingly, the result of evaluating operation environment would decide basic ratings of banks in those countries. Because Vietnam’s credit rating had been lowered from 9 to 10, the basic rating of Vietnamese banks also was lowered to Level B.

However, S&P recognised the Government’s support for BIDV thanks to the bank’s important role in Vietnam’s banking system so BIDV’s partnership rating was raised one spot compared with the basic level to B+.

Hence, the rating downgrade of BIDV in the S&P report would not affect the lender’s financial capacity because the new rating methodology was enclosed with the national rating.

Previously, Fitch Ratings actively assessed BIDV after it was selected by the Government to be the support agency for the merger of three joint stock commercial banks, including Ficombank, TinNghiaBank and SCB. /.