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Moody's alert to policy change

RATINGS agency Moody's will review the rating on Irish banks' senior bonds if an incoming government forces losses on the lenders holding the bonds.

Moody's said it reckons "an outright default on senior debt is unlikely" because it would strike at investor confidence in other European banks and in other countries.

The State agreed to absorb losses from the bank sector and protect senior lenders as part of the EU/IMF bailout.

In a statement Moody's said it may begin "downgrade reviews" of the banks if recent proposals from opposition politicians become policy after the election.

Moody's said its ratings of the likelihood of default by the banks on their debt currently benefits by three to four "notches" because government policy has been to avoid passing losses onto the more senior investors.

"Moody's will reassess its support assumptions if the new government's policy towards the banks is materially different to that of the previous administration," a Moody's analyst said in the statement.

Irish Independent