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Rating for Members United Corporate reflects economy
CHICAGO (6/4/08)--In a sign of the times, Fitch Ratings has reaffirmed the ratings of Members United Corporate FCU with long-term IDR at "AA-" but reduced the outlook ratings to reflect the downturn in the economy. Fitch has taken similar measures with other corporates and other investment entities the past few months. "Rating agencies clearly are taking a cautious view of all financial institutions at this time," Members United CEO Joe Herbst told the corporate's Economic Forum yesterday. "The continuing market dislocation has resulted in distressed market pricing. This action by Fitch is largely driven by the unrealized losses we've experienced as a result of these unprecedented market conditions." Herbst added, "We remain confident in the performance of our portfolio and balance sheet. These unrealized losses are expected to be erased over time, as this situation eases and the market values of the securities return to normal levels." Fitch said assigning a Rating Watch Negative reflects its concern "of an increasing possibility that the company could realize meaningful losses in its investment book." It said that should any losses incurred remain manageable and Members United's other fundamental strengths remain intact, particularly its considerable liquidity, the company's ratings would likely stabilize. "The size of the investment book and the dislocation in the credit markets have contributed to a large unrealized loss position in relation to capital," said Fitch in a press release. "The investment portfolio is of high quality and continues to pay as agreed to at this point, but does contain meaningful exposure." Members United have not incurred any losses and its ample liquidity provides it with a strong ability to hold its investment securities, Fitch said. It also noted that the company continues to "exhibit sound credit fundamentals, robust risk management practices, and its franchise remains solid." Members United is the second-largest corporate credit union, with total assets of $13.8 billion. It serves 2,400 member credit unions--about 25% of the nation's credit unions.
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