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    Fitch affirms Russia's AK Bars Bank at 'B+' with stable outlook

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    MOSCOW, February 9 (RIA Novosti) - International ratings agency Fitch Ratings affirmed Russian-based AK Bars Bank's ratings Thursday at Long-term 'B+' with a stable outlook, the agency said on its Web site.

    Fitch Ratings also granted AK Bars, based in the Russian republic of Tatarstan on the Volga River, short-term 'B', support '4', individual 'D' and national long-term 'A-(A minus)(rus)'. The outlooks on the long-term and national long-term ratings remain stable, the agency said.

    "The long-term, short-term and support ratings of AK Bars Bank ("AK Bars") are driven by the moderate likelihood of support being available from the government of the Republic of Tatarstan (rated 'BB')," Fitch said.

    AK Bars' Individual rating reflects its weak, albeit improving, performance, high loan concentration, substantial funding from related parties and considerable market risk, as well as certain weaknesses in the bank's operating environment. However, it also takes into account its strong current capitalization and solid niche in the republic's banking sector, the agency said.

    Pressure on AK Bars' long-term and national long-term ratings could result from an upgrade or downgrade, respectively, in the Republic of Tatarstan's long-term rating. Higher transparency of relations between the republic and AK Bars could also lead to a potential upgrade, Fitch said, adding that AK Bars' individual rating was not expected to change in the near-term.

    AK Bars was founded by the Tatarstan government in 1993. It is the largest bank in the region in terms of assets and one of the 20 largest Russian banks. AK Bars' main shareholders are Tatarstan-based companies, most of which are controlled by the government, which has a 93% stake in the bank.

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