FitchRatings has put the management of newly listed Bank of China (Hong Kong) on notice to 'prove itself' before it can lay claim to a top-quality rating. The ratings agency yesterday said it had awarded the bank a 'shadow' individual rating of 'C' and a support rating of '3'. Fitch's individual rating is an assessment of how a bank would be viewed if it were entirely independent and could not rely on external support during financial distress. In the case of BoC Hong Kong, this means excluding the role that might be played by its 75 per cent mainland shareholder, Bank of China. The support rating deals with the question of whether a bank would receive support if it got into difficulties. Not yet assigned for BoC Hong Kong is an assessment by Fitch of the group's long-term debt - the rating most often relied upon by investors in judging credit risk. A 'C' individual rating is four notches below the top 'A' rating and compares with Hang Seng Bank's rating of just one notch below the top, at 'A/B'. With a 'C' rating, BoC Hong Kong, which vies with HSBC for the title of biggest bank in the SAR, finds itself in the company of such minnows as Asia Commercial Bank; its own separately rated subsidiary, Chiyu Banking Corp; and Liu Chong Hing Bank.