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First Rand up

04 January 2005 Angelo Coppola

At the same time, Standard & Poor's affirmed its 'A-2' short-term local currency ratings, and its 'BBB/A-3' foreign currency ratings, which are constrained by the foreign currency ratings on the Republic of South Africa (foreign currency BBB/Stable/A-3, l

The outlook on FRB is stable.

Standard & Poor's also raised its long-term foreign and local currency counterparty credit ratings on FirstRand Bank to 'BBB' from 'BBB-'.

The short-term local currency counterparty credit rating on FRBH was raised to 'A-2' from 'A-3', and the short-term foreign currency counterparty credit rating was affirmed at 'A-3', constrained by the short-term foreign currency rating on South Africa. The outlook on FRBH is also stable.

The rating actions reflect the financial and asset quality benefits accrued from management's initiatives to strengthen internal business practices, improve earnings focus, and implement sound risk management systems and controls from which the FirstRand banking group can leverage upon its strong market position and the improving economic environment in South Africa.

FRB, however, mainly operates in an environment where social and operational risks are high.

In addition, although well managed, liquidity risks are above average, reflecting the structural short-term nature of the bank and the banking system's funding profile.

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