S&P extends its warnings

CREDIT rating agency Standard & Poor’s piled further pressure on the Eurozone last night by putting the EU’s triple-A rating on downgrade watch.

The US agency then added to the beleaguered bloc’s misery by issuing a similar ratings warning to some of the largest banks, including France’s Societe Generale and BNP Paribas, Italy’s UniCredit and Germany’s Deutsche Bank.

It said it would further assess the financial health of both the banks and the governments of their home countries.

In a statement last night, S&P said: “Given the EU’s dependency on such revenues from national budgets, and our recent CreditWatch placements on the ‘AAA’ ratings on Germany and France, among others, we will concurrently review the ‘AAA’ long-term rating on the EU with the ratings on the Eurozone member states.

“We could lower the long-term issuer credit rating on the EU by one notch if we were to lower the current ‘AAA’ ratings on one or more member states,” it added.

The downgrades are a further blow to Europe’s financial credibility, coming in the same week as a Brussels leaders’ summit aimed at resolving the Eurozone debt crisis.

BNP Paribas’ new chief executive Jean-Laurent Bonnafé is facing fresh trouble just days after taking up the role