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Austrian banks see ratings downgraded amid Hypo uncertainty

Hypo Tirol Bank AG and UniCredit Bank Austria AG are among some of the latest banks to have their ratings downgraded by ratings agency Moody's Investors Service.

Along with Vorarlberger Landes- und Hypothekenbank AG, the agency has slashed the ratings of some of their debt instruments, as well as placing the deposit ratings of Hypo Tirol Bank AG on review for downgrade.

The move is a reaction to uncertainty over whether the Austrian government will opt for allowing ailing lender Hypo Alpe Adria to go insolvent. Moody's said on Tuesday that they believe "bondholders may not be fully protected in that process".

The downgrades follow a similar stance taken by Moody last week when they also downgraded Hypo and the state of Carinthia, the region where the bank is based.

The triple A backed senior unsecured debt ratings of Pfandbriefstelle bank have also been placed on review for downgrade.

The option of creating a state 'bad bank' that would absorb the billions of debts held by Hypo is the preferred approach of the Austrian government although a final decision has not been made yet. Last week the US financial services company Standard & Poor's announced that the increasing likeliness of the Austrian government to set up a state-run 'bad bank' will not immediately damage the country's debt ratings.

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