The rating agencies took the following actions last week:

H.F. Ahmanson & Co.: Moody's Investors Service Inc. confirmed senior debt at Baa2 and subordinated debt and preferred stock at Baa3. Long-term deposits of the subsidiary Home Savings of America were confirmed at A3.

Moody's said the action followed the company's sale of $1.2 billion in nonperforming single-family real estate assets last week to Bear, Steams & Co. The sale resulted in write-downs and a $290 million loss at Ahmanson in the second quarter.

Banco Espanol de Credito: Thomson BankWatch assigned an A-plus rating to senior debt issued by this Spanish bank. The agency expects improved performance in the long term. Earnings fell sharply last year, reflecting a reduction in asset sales.

In addition, the recession in Spain has caused nonperforming loans to rise. BankWatch said the company is in the midst of raising $1.1 billion in capital. Tier 1 capital equaled 7.8% of risk-adjusted assets at yearend.

Chase Manhattan Corp.: Fitch Investors Service Inc. assigned a BBB-plus rating to a new $200 million issue of 6.5% noncallable subordinated notes due Aug. 1, 2005. It described the credit trend as improving.

Fitch upgraded Chase in June, citing the sale of $740 million in equity and aggressive moves aimed at selling off commercial real estate.

Colonial National Bank USA: Thomson BankWatch assigned a BBB rating to a proposed $50 million issue of subordinated notes due in 2003. The credit-card bank, based in Wilmington, Del., is a unit of Advanta Corp.

BankWatch said the bank concentrates on direct-mail campaigns to market its main product: a no-fee gold card. It added that the bank has made progress in adding accounts, increasing loans, and improving asset quality.

Continental Bank Corp.: Fitch assigned a BBB-plus rating to the Chicago company's new $150 million issue of floating-rate Euronotes due August 1998. It said Continental's operating strategy has boosted capital ratios and improved return on equity and assets.

Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Co. also assigned the notes its BBB-plus grade. Thomson BankWatch affirmed senior debt at BBB-plus and subordinated debt at BBB.

Crestar Financial Corp.: Standard & Poor's Corp. revised its outlook on the Richmond Company to positive from stable. The BBB senior debt, BBB-minus subordinated debt, and BB-plus preferred stock ratings were affirmed. It cited the company's "conservative financial profile" and improving asset quality.

First Union Corp.: Fitch affirmed senior debt at A. The North Carolina bank had been on review for possible downgrade since September 1992. It said cost savings from recent acquisitions will likely boost core profitability. Other strengths are good market share, a technological edge. and a conservative credit culture.

Fitch said it is concerned. though, about high nonperforming assets, low reserve coverage, increased leverage resulting from acquisitions. and an "organization size that threatens the basic nature of First Union's franchise."

First USA Bank: Thomson BankWatch assigned an A-minus rating to a proposed private placement of $150 million in 10-year subordinated debt. It said the Wilmington, Del., credit card bank has benefited from growth in cards issued and loans outstanding as well as operating efficiencies and lower interest rates.

Riggs National Corp.: Moody's downgraded subordinated debt to Ca from Caa, saying it was uncertain about Riggs' ability to return to profitability.

The Washington-based company lost $73.2 million in the second quarter after a $61 million restructuring charge related to its British bank. Moody's also cut long-term deposits issued by Riggs National Bank of Washington to B3 from B1.

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