Press Release

DBRS Morningstar Upgrades Sparkasse zu Lübeck AG Covered Bonds (Pfandbriefe - Mortgages) to AA (high)

Covered Bonds
January 22, 2021

DBRS Ratings GmbH (DBRS Morningstar) upgraded its rating on the Series 1 Pfandbriefe (the German legislative covered bonds) issued under the Sparkasse zu Lübeck AG (SKL or the Issuer) Mortgage Pfandbrief programme (SKL CB or the Programme) to AA (high) from AA. The upgrade follows the completion of a full review of the Programme.

The lower weighted-average (WA) coupon on the outstanding covered bonds (CB) following issuances in the past 12 months, and the shorter reported WA remaining term to maturity on the assets, reducing refinancing risk, allow the structure to withstand higher rating stresses.

There are 47 series of Pfandbriefe outstanding under the Programme totalling a nominal amount of EUR 475 million.

The ratings are based on the following analytical considerations:
-- A Covered Bonds Attachment Point (CBAP) of A (high). SKL is the Issuer and Reference Entity for the Programme. There is no Critical Obligations Rating (COR) associated with SKL, but DBRS Morningstar considers Germany a jurisdiction for which covered bonds are a particularly important financing tool. As such, the CBAP is set at the level of the Issuer Rating plus one notch.
-- A Legal and Structuring Framework (LSF) Assessment of “Very Strong” associated with the Programme.
-- A Cover Pool Credit Assessment (CPCA) of A (low), which is the lowest CPCA in line with the LSF-Implied Likelihood (LSF-L).
-- An LSF-Implied Likelihood (LSF-L) of AA.
-- A one-notch uplift for good recovery prospects.
-- No committed overcollateralisation (OC). The minimum-observed OC level during the past 12 months is 29.5%. However, DBRS Morningstar gives credit to a limited level of OC equal to 10%, which is considered to be sustainable based on information from the Issuer and expected market developments.

DBRS Morningstar analysed the transaction using its European Covered Bond Cash Flow tool. The main assumptions focused on the timing of defaults and recoveries of the assets, interest rate stresses, and market value spreads to calculate liquidation values on the cover pool (CP).

Everything else being equal, a two-notch downgrade of the CBAP would lead to a one-notch downgrade of the LSF-L, resulting in a one-notch downgrade of the CB rating.

In addition, all else unchanged, the CB ratings would be downgraded if any of the following occurred: (1) the CPCA was downgraded to below A (low); (2) the sovereign rating of the Federal Republic of Germany was downgraded to below BBB (high); (3) the LSF Assessment associated with the Programme was downgraded to Average or below; (4) the quality of the CP and the level of OC were no longer sufficient to support a one-notch uplift for high recovery prospects, (5) the relative amortisation profile of the CB and CP moved adversely; or (6) volatility in the financial markets caused the currently estimated market value spreads to increase.

As of 30 September 2020, the aggregated outstanding balance of the CP underlying the Issuer’s Pfandbriefe comprised EUR 608 million of residential (74.0% of the loan balance) and commercial (23.1%) mortgages, plus EUR 18.5 million of other assets (Länderanleihen, state bonds issued by federal states). These other assets are held in a deposit account that is not contractualised, and there is no replacement trigger consistent with DBRS Morningstar’s “Legal Criteria for European Structured Finance Transactions” methodology. Therefore, DBRS Morningstar gives 40% credit to these assets, leading to a total considered CP of EUR 615 million, which results in a total OC of 29.5%.

As of September 2020, the mortgage CP assets comprised 4,628 mortgage loans, with a WA seasoning of 80 months and a WA remaining time to maturity of 157 months. The CP is located mainly in Schleswig-Holstein (76.7% by outstanding balance), Hamburg (15.7%) and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (3.7%).

According to the PfandBG, the mortgage loans may only be registered in the CP for a maximum amount up to 60% of the mortgage lending value of the underlying property (loan-to-value (LTV) limit). In its CP analysis, DBRS Morningstar used the LTVs based on market values. To determine the loss given default (LGD), DBRS Morningstar considered the LTV limit whereas for the determination of the probability of default (PD) DBRS Morningstar considered LTVs that included the entire mortgage balance secured by the underlying property (whole loan LTV). The total pool presents a WA LTV of 53.1% based on lending values (determined as prescribed in the Beleihungswertermittlungsverordnung, BelWertV), and of 40.3% based on market values.

SKL CB do not benefit from hedging agreements to cover the mismatch between the interest paid by the CP (6.1% floating rate linked to different indexes and reset dates) and the interest paid to the CB holders, paying a fixed rate coupon. This risk is mitigated by the OC available and has been accounted for in DBRS Morningstar’s cash flow analysis.

The DBRS Morningstar-calculated WA life of the mortgage assets is approximately eight years based on a 0% prepayment rate, which is longer than the 6.4 years of WA life on the Pfandbriefe, not accounting for any maturity extension. This risk is mitigated by the OC available.

All CP assets and CB are denominated in euros. As such, investors are not currently exposed to any foreign-exchange risk.

DBRS Morningstar has assessed the LSF related to the Programme as “Very Strong” according to its “Rating and Monitoring Covered Bonds” methodology. For more information, please refer to DBRS Morningstar’s commentaries “DBRS Publishes Commentary on German Covered Bonds Legal and Structuring Framework” and “German Covered Bonds: Legal and Structuring Framework Review,” both available at

For further information on the Programme, please refer to the rating report at

The Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and the resulting isolation measures have caused an economic contraction, leading to sharp increases in unemployment rates and income reductions for many borrowers. DBRS Morningstar anticipates that payment holidays and delinquencies may increase in the coming months for many cover pools, some meaningfully. The ratings are based on additional analysis and adjustments to expected performance as a result of the global efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus. In the cover pool analysis of this programme DBRS Morningstar assumed a moderate decline in residential property prices.

On 16 April 2020, the DBRS Morningstar Sovereign group released a set of macroeconomic scenarios for the 2020 22 period in select economies. These scenarios were last updated on 2 December 2020. For details see the following commentaries: and The DBRS Morningstar analysis considered impacts consistent with the moderate scenario in the referenced reports.

On 24 April 2020, DBRS Morningstar published a commentary outlining how the coronavirus crisis is likely to affect the DBRS Morningstar-rated CBs in Europe. For more details, please see: and

For more information regarding rating methodologies and Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), please see the following DBRS Morningstar press release:

For more information regarding structured finance rating methodologies and Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19), please see the following DBRS Morningstar press release:

Corporate Governance is a material rating factor for the Sparkassen-Finanzgruppe (the Group) on which the ratings for the Issuer are based, and hence for the CB issued under the Programme. In DBRS Morningstar’s view, the decentralised structure and lack of consolidation of the Group reduces transparency, potentially limits risk control mechanisms, and lowers efficiency.

A description of how DBRS Morningstar considers ESG factors within the DBRS Morningstar analytical framework and its methodologies can be found at:

All figures are in euros unless otherwise noted.

The principal methodology applicable to the rating is: “Rating and Monitoring Covered Bonds“ (27 April 2020).

DBRS Morningstar has applied the principal methodology consistently and conducted a review of the transaction in accordance with the surveillance section of the principal methodology.

A review of the transaction legal documents was not conducted as the legal documents have remained unchanged since the most recent rating action.

Other methodologies referenced in this transaction are listed at the end of this press release.

These may be found at:

For a more detailed discussion of the sovereign risk impact on Structured Finance ratings, please refer to “Appendix C: The Impact of Sovereign Ratings on Other DBRS Morningstar Credit Ratings” of the “Global Methodology for Rating Sovereign Governments” at:

The sources of data and information used for this rating include investor reports, stratified data on the CP as at 30 September 2020, and static defaults by vintage of origination, spanning from Q1 2010 to Q3 2020, provided by the Issuer.

DBRS Morningstar did not rely upon third-party due diligence in order to conduct its analysis.

At the time of the initial rating DBRS Morningstar was not supplied with third-party assessments. However, this did not impact the rating analysis.

DBRS Morningstar considers the data and information available to it for the purposes of providing this rating to be of satisfactory quality.

DBRS Morningstar does not audit or independently verify the data or information it receives in connection with the rating process.

This is the first rating action since the Initial Rating Date.

The lead analyst responsibilities for this transaction have been transferred to Covadonga Aybar.

Information regarding DBRS Morningstar ratings, including definitions, policies, and methodologies, is available on

For further information on DBRS Morningstar historical default rates published by the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) in a central repository, see: DBRS Morningstar understands further information on DBRS Morningstar historical default rates may be published by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) on its webpage:

This rating is endorsed by DBRS Ratings Limited for use in the United Kingdom.

Lead Analyst: Covadonga Aybar, Vice President
Rating Committee Chair: Ketan Thaker, Managing Director
Initial Rating Date: 24 January 2020

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Tel. +49 (69) 8088 3500
Geschäftsführer: Detlef Scholz
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The rating methodologies used in the analysis of this transaction can be found at:

-- Rating and Monitoring Covered Bonds (27 April 2020)
-- Rating and Monitoring Covered Bonds Addendum: Market Value Spreads (27 April 2020)
-- Global Methodology for Rating Banks and Banking Organisations (8 June 2020)
-- Legal Criteria for European Structured Finance Transactions (11 September 2019)
-- Interest Rate Stresses for European Structured Finance Transactions (28 September 2020)
-- Master European Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Rating Methodology and Jurisdictional Addenda (14 January 2021) and European RMBS Credit Model v
-- Operational Risk Assessment for European Structured Finance Originators (30 September 2020)
-- Operational Risk Assessment for European Structured Finance Servicers (19 November 2020)
-- Rating CLOs and CDOs of Large Corporate Credit (21 July 2020)
-- Rating CLOs Backed by Loans to European SMEs (30 September 2020)
-- Global Methodology for Rating Sovereign Governments (27 July 2020)

A description of how DBRS Morningstar analyses structured finance transactions and how the methodologies are collectively applied can be found at:

For more information on this credit or on this industry, visit or contact us at