P.M. BRIEFING : 2 Japan Banks Fall in Debt Rating

From Times Wire Services

Moody's Investor Service today downgraded the long-term debt ratings of Japan's Dai-Ichi Kangyo Bank and Fuji Bank, two of the world's five largest banking companies.

The leading credit rating agency said the downgradings, from the top level of AAA to AA-1, affected about $1.5 billion of debt at Dai-Ichi Kangyo Ltd. and $2 billion at Fuji Ltd.

Dai-Ichi Kangyo is the world's largest bank in asset terms, and Fuji is fourth-ranked.

A spokesman for Standard & Poor's, the other leading U.S. rating agency, said it has left the ratings of the two banks unchanged at its second-highest level of AA.

Moody's said it downgraded Dai-Ichi Kangyo because the bank will "continue to experience greater (profit) margin pressures than its peers."

The agency said Fuji has one of the highest exposures to the real estate and finance sectors among Japan's city banks.

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