Moody's Investors Service has today taken the following actions on the backed long-term and short-term ratings of four Austrian banking groups, whose ratings benefit from a statutory deficiency guarantee issued by Austrian federal states or municipalities: (1) Moody's has lowered the ratings of the guaranteed long-term senior unsecured and subordinated debt instruments of Hypo Tirol Bank AG, Vorarlberger Landes- und Hypothekenbank AG and UniCredit Bank Austria AG that benefit from statutory deficiency guarantees from individual Austrian federal states or the City of Vienna (Aaa negative). This action has been taken to capture the rating agency's assessment of increased uncertainty about the value of the guarantees to bondholders. The ratings remain on review for downgrade. (2) As a consequence, Moody's has also placed on review for downgrade the Prime-1 short-term guaranteed deposit ratings of Hypo Tirol Bank AG. At the same time, the rating agency affirmed the Prime-1 short-term guaranteed deposit ratings of Vorarlberger Landes- und Hypothekenbank AG. (3) Moody's has also placed on review for downgrade the long-term Aaa backed senior unsecured debt ratings of Pfandbriefstelle der Oesterreichischen Landes-Hypothekenbanken (Pfandbriefstelle). The rated debt obligations of Pfandbriefstelle are grandfathered (under statutory deficiency guarantees) by its member banks - Landeshypothekenbanken (regional commercial and mortgage banks) - and those banks' guarantors, the respective Austrian federal states (BundeslÄnder), according to Austrian federal law. The main driver of these actions is the precedent set in the case of Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank International AG (HAA), in which Moody's observes rising uncertainty about the intentions of the bank's current owner, the Austrian government (Aaa negative), with regards to the bank's future. In the public debate around how to effect HAA's resolution the possibility has been mooted, and has not been conclusively ruled out, that bondholders may not be fully protected in that process, notwithstanding the statutory deficiency guarantee on their holdings. The debate signals that Austrian authorities more generally are willing to countenance, even if not yet to favour, bank resolutions which might greatly reduce the value of such a deficiency guarantee to ensure full and timely payment of interest and principal. As a consequence, the guaranteed ratings of the banks affected by this rating action are placed on review for downgrade to allow Moody's to assess their statutory guarantees against the increased uncertainty of the Austrian federal and regional governments' actions and the implied risks for bondholders.