CI affirms Oman International Bank ratings
Limassol, September 13, 2009
Capital Intelligence (CI), the international credit rating agency, has affirmed Oman International Bank’s (OIB) foreign currency ratings at BBB long-term and A3 short-term, and the financial strength rating at BBB.
The ratings reflect the bank’s important position in the local economy, its sizeable retail customer franchise and the likelihood that the government will provide support in case of need. The bank’s good liquidity, improving asset quality, good capital ratio and reasonably good earnings underscore the financial strength rating.
OIB is currently in a particularly advantageous position, since its lending ratio is below the regulatory limit. The next six months present a unique opportunity for OIB to build a portfolio of top quality loan assets. However, there was no significant increase in credit in the first half and the slowing domestic economy could reduce the overall demand for loans from the corporate sector, according to the ratings agency.
Credit risks have also increased due to the downturn in the local economy. A ‘Stable’ outlook has been assigned to all the ratings.
OIB’s cautious balance sheet growth and conservative outlook resulted in declining net interest and low net profit growth in recent years. However, although the bank’s interest differential is below the industry average, the bank remains profitable partly due to strong recoveries of non-performing loans (NPLs) that have lifted net earnings. OIB’s ROAA has therefore been above the industry average over the last four years.
H1 2009 net profit recorded a sharp decline due to lower NPL recoveries and the fact that H1 2008 results had been boosted by a one-off dividend income. On the positive side, there was good growth in net interest due to an improvement in the interest margin.
OIB restructured its balance sheet and reduced its large portfolio of liquid assets in the first six months of 2009. At the same time the bank grew its retail loan book and increased its low-cost savings deposits, which led to the improvement in the interest spread. The bank currently has the second lowest funding cost among local banks.
OIB’s liquidity ratios tightened slightly last year and in the first six months of the current year, but key ratios are still at comfortable levels. The bank is in a position to book new loans without overly straining liquidity. OIB’s asset quality continues to improve. NPLs are declining and are fully covered by loan-loss reserves. The bank is also adequately capitalised.
OIB was established in 1984. With total assets of $2.6 billion at end 2008, it is the fourth largest bank in the country. The bank has the second largest branch network in Oman with 83 branches. It also operates the country’s largest independent ATM network comprising 105 machines. OIB is also a primary dealer for government bonds.-TradeArabia News Service