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Central Pacific has rating upgraded

Fitch Ratings raises the credit score on improved capital and profit

By Dave Segal

LAST UPDATED: 11:36 p.m. HST, Aug 5, 2011

Central Pacific Financial Corp.'s credit ratings have been upgraded by Fitch Ratings following positive developments that include the raising of $345 million in capital, the bank's first profitable quarter in two years and the lifting by regulators of a consent order tied to financial performance.

Fitch, one of three top global rating agencies along with Standard & Poor's and Moody's, upgraded the long-term issuer default ratings of Central Pacific's holding company and bank to "B+" from "B-" and also removed the "F" individual rating assigned to both entities and assigned a new individual rating of "D." The overall ratings outlook was raised to "positive" from "stable."

"The upgrade of CPF's (issuer default rating) reflects the considerable enhancement of its capital position, reduction in problem credits, as well as the company's return to profitability," Fitch said yesterday. "CPF's capital raise in February 2011 significantly bolstered its regulatory capital position."

Central Pacific raised $325 million from private investors and recently completed a "rights offering" with shareholders that brought the bank an additional $20 million. A regulatory consent order placed on the bank 17 months ago to improve its capital ratio and other parts of its operations was terminated earlier this month by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Hawaii Division of Financial Institutions.

"We are pleased to have received validation from Fitch that we are making significant progress in our recovery efforts and improvements to our overall financial condition," Central Pacific President and CEO John Dean said.

Fitch noted that Central Pacific has significantly reduced its problem assets, with nonperforming assets down more than 40 percent from a year ago, but cautioned that nonperforming assets are still elevated at 13.1 percent and commercial real estate remains a significant concentration in the bank's portfolio.

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