Fitch ratings agency's upgrade of the Land Bank's national long-term rating shows the bank's turnaround strategy has been successful, said ANC Chief Whip Stone Sizani yesterday. "After consultations with the then minister of agriculture… the administrative powers entrusted by the Land and Agricultural Development Bank Act 2002 were transferred to the minister of finance in July 2008 ," Sizani said in a statement. "Following a successful turnaround, the Land Bank has now turned into an entity of distinction that is aligned to deliver on its legislated mandate." Fitch said today the rating of the Land and Agricultural Bank of SA, known as the Land Bank , had been upgraded from AA to AA+. The upgrade was a result of Fitch's consideration that there was an increased likelihood of support from the government after the Land Bank successfully dealt with a number of internal challenges, the agency said. The bank's rating reflected the high perceived level of support it would receive as a state-owned development finance institution, it said. Fitch also affirmed the Development Bank of Southern Africa , Sanlam Capital Markets Limited and Genbel Securities Limited's ratings. Sizani said the bank's corporate governance had become more robust with the necessary controls in place. "The bank is demonstrating healthy growth signs and has reclaimed its rightful place in the South African agricultural landscape," Sizani said. "The positive rating on an important state-owned entity like the Land Bank more broadly reflects Fitch's confidence in the… government's willingness to support the entity." The finance ministry approved the recapitalisation of the bank through an increased guarantee of R3.5bn. - Sapa Cape Argus
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