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Fitch Investors has lowered to "AA" from "AAA" its rating on $33.3 million of Marine Midland Bank debt.

The rating change affects defeased 7 5/8 percent subordinated debentures due in the year 2003. The debt is in-substance defeasance, a technique in which a company discharges old, low-rate debt without repaying it prior to maturity.

In this case Marine Midland is using newly purchased securities with a lower face value but paying higher interest or having a higher market value.

The object is a cleaner, more debt-free, balance sheet and increased earnings in the amount by which the face amount of the old debt exceeds the cost of the new securities.

In December 1984, Marine created an irrevocable trust to defease its obligations on $149.7 million of long-term subordinated debt. The interest and reinvestment maturity cash flows of the government securities purchased for the trust match the debt repayment schedules of the debentures.

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