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      Scope affirms Hungary’s credit rating of BBB, changes Outlook to Positive

      HUGV 3.000 07/05/18 FRN HUGV 1.190 10/24/26 FRN HUGV 3.250 10/22/31 HUGV 3.250 10/20/21 FRN HUGV 09/26/18 HUGV 2.000 04/11/18 HUGV 2.000 10/17/18 HUGV 5.500 12/20/18 HUGV 3.000 02/03/19 FRN HUGV 2.000 08/01/18 HUGV 1.500 02/28/18 HUGV 2.000 05/30/18 HUGV 3.480 05/20/20 FRN HUGV 4.000 04/24/20 FRN HUGV 1.500 03/21/18 HUGV 2.000 08/29/18 HUGV 3.500 06/24/20 HUGV 3.000 02/03/19 FRN HUGV 1.500 03/28/18 HUGV 4.850 07/27/20 HUGV 3.000 02/03/19 FRN HUGV 3.480 05/20/20 FRN HUGV 2.000 06/20/18 HUGV 1.500 03/14/18 HUGV 2.000 04/25/18 HUGV 2.000 10/30/19 HUGV 2.000 07/04/18 HUGV 04/11/18 HUGV 5.500 06/24/25 HUGV 2.000 06/27/18 HUGV 2.000 03/07/18 HUGV 5.750 06/11/18 HUGV 1.750 10/10/27 HUGV 6.250 04/25/19 HUGV 3.000 11/21/18 FRN HUGV 6.500 06/24/19 HUGV 2.780 04/20/18 FRN HUGV 2.000 08/15/18 HUGV 0.030 10/24/18 FRN HUGV 3.210 08/26/24 FRN HUGV 05/23/18 HUGV 2.000 09/19/18 HUGV 2.000 10/25/18 HUGV 2.000 07/18/18 HUGV 2.000 08/22/18 HUGV 7.625 03/29/41 HUGV 6.250 01/29/20 HUGV 1.500 04/25/18 HUGV 2.000 03/21/18 HUGV 2.860 07/23/20 FRN HUGV 2.000 10/03/18 HUGV 2.000 05/09/18 HUGV 2.000 04/19/18 HUGV 1.500 03/07/18 HUGV 0.060 06/23/21 FRN HUGV 2.000 05/23/18 HUGV 4.000 03/25/19 HUGV 3.875 02/24/20 HUGV 6.375 03/29/21 HUGV 6.000 01/11/19 HUGV 2.000 07/25/18 HUGV 0.150 08/28/19 FRN HUGV 02/28/18 HUGV 2.000 06/13/18 HUGV 2.000 03/28/18 HUGV 2.110 07/23/18 FRN HUGV 7.500 11/12/20 HUGV 1.000 09/23/20 HUGV 3.000 04/25/18 FRN HUGV 2.000 09/05/18 HUGV 1.500 11/04/18 HUGV 1.500 04/18/18 HUGV 2.000 03/14/18 HUGV 07/18/18 HUGV 3.360 07/22/20 FRN HUGV 2.000 02/28/18 HUGV 3.050 09/22/20 FRN HUGV 2.000 09/12/18 HUGV 2.000 05/16/18 HUGV 2.500 10/27/21 HUGV 6.750 10/22/28 HUGV 2.000 04/04/18 HUGV 2.000 07/11/18 HUGV 2.000 06/07/18 HUGV 2.000 10/10/18 HUGV 2.780 04/20/18 FRN HUGV 1.500 04/04/18 HUGV 3.500 08/26/20 FRN HUGV 4.000 04/25/18 HUGV 2.000 05/03/18 HUGV 0.440 04/24/26 FRN HUGV 2.500 06/22/18 HUGV 2.750 12/22/26 HUGV 0.330 05/20/19 FRN HUGV 2.000 09/26/18 HUGV 3.000 10/27/27 HUGV 2.000 08/08/18 HUGV 2.750 10/21/19 FRN
      FRIDAY, 23/02/2018 - Scope Ratings GmbH
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      Scope affirms Hungary’s credit rating of BBB, changes Outlook to Positive

      Robust economic performance, reduced external imbalances, fiscal consolidation and an improving debt structure underpin the Positive Outlook; high public debt, poor non-price competitiveness and weakening institutional credibility remain constraints.

      For the detailed rating report, click here.

      Scope Ratings GmbH has today changed the Outlook to Positive from Stable on Hungary's BBB sovereign rating. At the same time Scope has affirmed Hungary's BBB long-term and senior unsecured local- and foreign-currency ratings, along with the short-term issuer rating of S-2 in both local and foreign currency. The Outlook on the long-term issuer and senior unsecured debt ratings has been set to Positive. The Outlook on the short-term issuer rating is Stable.

      Rating drivers

      The drivers for today's rating action reflect: i) the sovereign’s robust economic outlook, along with an on-going pick-up in the absorption of European Union structural funds; ii) the significant progress achieved in reducing external imbalances, driven by sustained current-account surpluses and the deleveraging in the private sector; iii) the consolidation of public finances accompanied by a marked improvement in public-debt structure and funding sources; and iv) the stabilising and strengthening financial sector. The Positive Outlook indicates Scope’s assessment that the upside potential from better-than-expected economic and fiscal outcomes outweighs the challenges stemming from a still-high public-debt burden, the country’s low non-price competitiveness and labour shortages, as well as weakening institutional credibility and economic policy predictability.

      The first driver underpinning Scope’s decision to change Hungary's Outlook to Positive is the country’s robust economic performance – annual real GDP growth has averaged 3.1% since 2013 – and outlook, along with an ongoing pick-up in the absorption of EU structural funds. Over the coming years, Scope expects robust economic growth to continue on the back of rising private expenditure supported by several social reforms and corporate investments in the form of foreign direct investments. Public consumption is also expected to increase steadily in the short and medium term, stimulated by a higher absorption of EU structural funds after the transition to the new 2014-2020 EU multiannual framework. In fact, Hungary is the sixth-largest recipient of EU funds in absolute terms and the first in terms of GDP, with EUR 22bn in EU structural and cohesion funds allocated over the 2014-2020 period.

      The second driver of the Outlook change is the progress made in reducing external imbalances, driven by sustained current-account surpluses since 2010, deleveraging in the banking sector, the redemption of loans granted under the EU Balance of Payments assistance programme in 2010-2012, and the government substituting its external debt for domestic issues, supported by the Hungarian National Bank’s (MNB) self-financing programme. Based on MNB data, Hungary’s external debt declined from 156% of GDP in Q2 2010 to 89% of GDP in Q3 2017. In addition, the improved composition of external debt has also reduced Hungary’s external vulnerabilities. The country’s share of short-term external liabilities declined to around 12% in Q3 2017 (down from 17% in 2010) while, at the same time, 53% of foreign liabilities are related to direct investments, limiting the potential impact of any possible reversal of capital inflows resulting from the normalisation of US and euro-area monetary policies. Moreover, the high ratio of reserves to short-term external debt, at around 170%, provides Hungary with an additional buffer against external shocks and is in line with that of CEE peers.

      The third driver supporting the outlook change is Hungary’s continued fiscal consolidation, as well as improvements in the government’s debt structure and funding sources. The sovereign successfully exited the EU’s Excessive Deficit Procedure in June 2013 and has reduced its budget deficit to below the Maastricht threshold of 3% of GDP since 2012. Going forward, Scope expects the government to continue to adhere to European fiscal rules despite higher expenditure and lower tax rates, following recent tax reforms. Scope assesses that any breach of the Maastricht deficit criteria, which would (re)open an intrusive excessive deficit procedure, stands in stark contrast to the current government’s ambition of reducing the EU’s spheres of competence. In addition, the debt management office’s prudent debt-funding strategy has reduced the public-debt exposure to exchange rate risk, limiting the share of foreign-currency-denominated debt to 15-25% of total debt. At the same time, debt held by non-residents has decreased markedly from a share of above 60% in 2011 to around 40% in 2017. It is Scope’s opinion that these structural changes in Hungary’s debt, combined with a solid cash buffer of 5% of GDP alongside continued investor demand, significantly reduce the sovereign’s refinancing risk.

      Scope also recognises the progress in strengthening the financial sector. After years of deleveraging, the banking sector is well capitalised, with a common equity tier 1 ratio of 15%; liquid, posting a liquid asset ratio of around 28%, similar to that of other Visegrád members; and profitable. Asset quality has also improved, with non-performing loans declining markedly to around 5% of gross loans, down from over 17% in 2013, supported by the MNB’s asset management company for commercial real estate. Credit flows to the private sector were again positive in 2017, indicating an end to the deleveraging cycle during which corporates and households had reduced outstanding debt by about 50 percentage points of GDP since 2010. In Scope’s view, private-sector debt levels do not constitute a significant source of risk to the sovereign and are again in line with peer levels.

      However, Hungary’s credit strengths remain constrained by its high public-debt level, relatively poor non-price competitiveness and weakening institutional credibility. Despite a continued downward trajectory since 2011, Hungary’s public debt of 73% of GDP in 2017 remains relatively high compared to that of peers and well above the Maastricht threshold of 60%. Scope’s public-debt sustainability analysis foresees only a gradual decrease in the debt-to-GDP ratio to slightly below 70% over the medium term, significantly above that of peers. In addition, relatively weak non-price competitiveness, reflected in subdued productivity growth and labour shortages, represent an important credit weakness in Hungary’s long-term economic growth prospects. Finally, the current government’s conflictual relationship with EU institutions and its consolidation of political power at the expense of independent institutions, which especially affect the central bank and judiciary, have increased the unpredictability of economic policy, the regulatory system, and the ability to conduct business in a transparent and predictable environment. The Positive Outlook reflects Scope’s view that these developments may continue after the expected re-election of the current government on 8 April 2018, but not materially worsen the economic and fiscal outlook for Hungary.

      Sovereign rating scorecard (CVS) and Qualitative Scorecard (QS)

      Scope’s Core Variable Scorecard (CVS), which is based on the relative rankings of key sovereign credit fundamentals, provides an indicative “BBB” (“bbb”) rating range for Hungary. This indicative rating range can be adjusted by the Qualitative Scorecard (QS) by up to three notches depending on the size of relative credit strengths or weaknesses versus peers based on qualitative analysis. For Hungary, debt sustainability has been identified as a relative credit strength. Relative credit weaknesses are: i) vulnerability to short-term shocks; and ii) recent events and policy decisions. The combined relative credit strengths and weaknesses indicate a sovereign rating of BBB for Hungary. A rating committee has discussed and confirmed these results.

      For further details, please see Appendix 2 of the rating report.

      Outlook and rating-change drivers

      The Positive Outlook reflects Scope’s view that risks to the ratings are tilted to the upside over the next 12 to 18 months. The rating could be upgraded if: i) the sovereign meets its fiscal targets and achieves a sustained debt reduction; ii) gains in non-price competitiveness and FDI inflows continued to support the country’s growth potential; and iii) institutional credibility ensured adequate and predictable fiscal and monetary policies. Conversely, the Outlook could return to Stable if: i) public finances deteriorated due to a reversal of fiscal consolidation; ii) the absorption of EU funds and FDI inflows was lower than expected; iii) external and foreign-currency debt increased; and iv) a further politicisation of institutions resulted in incoherent fiscal and monetary policies.

      Rating committee

      The main points discussed by the rating committee were: i) Hungary’s growth potential; ii) macroeconomic stability and imbalances; iii) current-account vulnerabilities; iv) vulnerability to shocks; v) coherence and credibility of monetary policy; vi) fiscal performance; vii) public-debt sustainability; viii) external debt sustainability; ix) recent events and policy decisions; and x) peers.

      Methodology

      The methodology applicable for this rating and/or rating outlook, ‘Public Finance Sovereign Ratings’, is available on www.scoperatings.com.

      The historical default rates used by Scope Ratings can be viewed in the rating performance report on https://www.scoperatings.com/#governance-and-policies/regulatory-ESMA. Please also refer to the central platform (CEREP) of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA): http://cerep.esma.europa.eu/cerep-web/statistics/defaults.xhtml. A comprehensive clarification of Scope’s definition of default and definitions of rating notations can be found in Scope’s public credit rating methodologies on www.scoperatings.com.

      The rating outlook indicates the most likely direction in which a rating may change within the next 12 to 18 months. A rating change is, however, not automatically a certainty.

      Regulatory disclosures

      This credit rating and/or rating outlook is issued by Scope Ratings GmbH.
      Rating prepared by Rudolf Alvise Lennkh, Lead Analyst
      Person responsible for approval of the rating: Dr Giacomo Barisone, Managing Director
      The ratings/outlook were first assigned by Scope as a subscription rating in January 2003. The ratings/outlooks were last updated on 01.09.2017. The senior unsecured debt ratings as well as the short-term issuer ratings were last assigned by Scope on 01.09.2017.

      Solicitation, key sources and quality of information
      The rating was initiated by Scope and was not requested by the rated entity or its agents. The rated entity and/or its agents did not participate in the ratings process. Scope had no access to accounts, management and/or other relevant internal documents for the rated entity or related third party.
      The following material sources of information were used to prepare the credit rating: public domain and third parties. Key sources of information for the rating include: the Ministry of Finance of Hungary, the Hungarian National Bank, the BIS, the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), the Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat), the IMF, the OECD, and Haver Analytics.
      Scope considers the quality of information available to Scope on the rated entity or instrument to be satisfactory. The information and data supporting Scope’s ratings originate from sources Scope considers to be reliable and accurate. Scope does not, however, independently verify the reliability and accuracy of the information and data.
      Prior to publication, the rated entity was given the opportunity to review the rating and/or outlook and the principal grounds upon which the credit rating and/or outlook is based. Following that review, the rating was not amended before being issued.

      Conditions of use / exclusion of liability
      © 2018 Scope SE & Co. KGaA and all its subsidiaries including Scope Ratings GmbH, Scope Analysis GmbH, Scope Investor Services GmbH and Scope Risk Solutions GmbH (collectively, Scope). All rights reserved. The information and data supporting Scope’s ratings, rating reports, rating opinions and related research and credit opinions originate from sources Scope considers to be reliable and accurate. Scope does not, however, independently verify the reliability and accuracy of the information and data. Scope’s ratings, rating reports, rating opinions, or related research and credit opinions are provided ‘as is’ without any representation or warranty of any kind. In no circumstance shall Scope or its directors, officers, employees and other representatives be liable to any party for any direct, indirect, incidental or other damages, expenses of any kind, or losses arising from any use of Scope’s ratings, rating reports, rating opinions, related research or credit opinions. Ratings and other related credit opinions issued by Scope are, and have to be viewed by any party as, opinions on relative credit risk and not a statement of fact or recommendation to purchase, hold or sell securities. Past performance does not necessarily predict future results. Any report issued by Scope is not a prospectus or similar document related to a debt security or issuing entity. Scope issues credit ratings and related research and opinions with the understanding and expectation that parties using them will assess independently the suitability of each security for investment or transaction purposes. Scope’s credit ratings address relative credit risk, they do not address other risks such as market, liquidity, legal, or volatility. The information and data included herein is protected by copyright and other laws. To reproduce, transmit, transfer, disseminate, translate, resell, or store for subsequent use for any such purpose the information and data contained herein, contact Scope Ratings GmbH at Lennéstraße 5 D-10785 Berlin.

      Scope Ratings GmbH, Lennéstrasse 5, 10785 Berlin, District Court for Berlin (Charlottenburg) HRB 192993 B, Managing Director(s): Dr. Stefan Bund, Torsten Hinrichs.

      HUGV 3.000 07/05/18 FRN HUGV 1.190 10/24/26 FRN HUGV 3.250 10/22/31 HUGV 3.250 10/20/21 FRN HUGV 09/26/18 HUGV 2.000 04/11/18 HUGV 2.000 10/17/18 HUGV 5.500 12/20/18 HUGV 3.000 02/03/19 FRN HUGV 2.000 08/01/18 HUGV 1.500 02/28/18 HUGV 2.000 05/30/18 HUGV 3.480 05/20/20 FRN HUGV 4.000 04/24/20 FRN HUGV 1.500 03/21/18 HUGV 2.000 08/29/18 HUGV 3.500 06/24/20 HUGV 3.000 02/03/19 FRN HUGV 1.500 03/28/18 HUGV 4.850 07/27/20 HUGV 3.000 02/03/19 FRN HUGV 3.480 05/20/20 FRN HUGV 2.000 06/20/18 HUGV 1.500 03/14/18 HUGV 2.000 04/25/18 HUGV 2.000 10/30/19 HUGV 2.000 07/04/18 HUGV 04/11/18 HUGV 5.500 06/24/25 HUGV 2.000 06/27/18 HUGV 2.000 03/07/18 HUGV 5.750 06/11/18 HUGV 1.750 10/10/27 HUGV 6.250 04/25/19 HUGV 3.000 11/21/18 FRN HUGV 6.500 06/24/19 HUGV 2.780 04/20/18 FRN HUGV 2.000 08/15/18 HUGV 0.030 10/24/18 FRN HUGV 3.210 08/26/24 FRN HUGV 05/23/18 HUGV 2.000 09/19/18 HUGV 2.000 10/25/18 HUGV 2.000 07/18/18 HUGV 2.000 08/22/18 HUGV 7.625 03/29/41 HUGV 6.250 01/29/20 HUGV 1.500 04/25/18 HUGV 2.000 03/21/18 HUGV 2.860 07/23/20 FRN HUGV 2.000 10/03/18 HUGV 2.000 05/09/18 HUGV 2.000 04/19/18 HUGV 1.500 03/07/18 HUGV 0.060 06/23/21 FRN HUGV 2.000 05/23/18 HUGV 4.000 03/25/19 HUGV 3.875 02/24/20 HUGV 6.375 03/29/21 HUGV 6.000 01/11/19 HUGV 2.000 07/25/18 HUGV 0.150 08/28/19 FRN HUGV 02/28/18 HUGV 2.000 06/13/18 HUGV 2.000 03/28/18 HUGV 2.110 07/23/18 FRN HUGV 7.500 11/12/20 HUGV 1.000 09/23/20 HUGV 3.000 04/25/18 FRN HUGV 2.000 09/05/18 HUGV 1.500 11/04/18 HUGV 1.500 04/18/18 HUGV 2.000 03/14/18 HUGV 07/18/18 HUGV 3.360 07/22/20 FRN HUGV 2.000 02/28/18 HUGV 3.050 09/22/20 FRN HUGV 2.000 09/12/18 HUGV 2.000 05/16/18 HUGV 2.500 10/27/21 HUGV 6.750 10/22/28 HUGV 2.000 04/04/18 HUGV 2.000 07/11/18 HUGV 2.000 06/07/18 HUGV 2.000 10/10/18 HUGV 2.780 04/20/18 FRN HUGV 1.500 04/04/18 HUGV 3.500 08/26/20 FRN HUGV 4.000 04/25/18 HUGV 2.000 05/03/18 HUGV 0.440 04/24/26 FRN HUGV 2.500 06/22/18 HUGV 2.750 12/22/26 HUGV 0.330 05/20/19 FRN HUGV 2.000 09/26/18 HUGV 3.000 10/27/27 HUGV 2.000 08/08/18 HUGV 2.750 10/21/19 FRN

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