ANB gets Fitch stable outlook
Dubai, October 23, 2009
Fitch Ratings has affirmed Saudi Arabia-based Arab National Bank's (ANB) long-term Issuer Default rating (IDR) at 'A' with stable outlook.
The ratings agency also affirmed the bank's short-term IDR at 'F1', individual rating at 'B/C', support rating at '1' and support rating floor at 'A-'.
ANB's long- and short-term IDRs reflect its large domestic franchise, comfortable liquidity and well controlled market risks. They also reflect concentrations on both sides of the balance sheet and potential deterioration in asset quality, although from a strong base, said a Fitch statement.
The bank's Support rating and Support Rating Floor reflect the extremely high probability of support from the Saudi authorities, should it be required, in view of ANB's strong domestic franchise and the regulator's history of support to the banking system, it added.
Fitch also believes there to be a moderate probability of support from Jordan's Arab Bank ('A-'/Stable), which owns 40 per cent of ANB and is well-established throughout the region.
Growth in profitability flattened year-on-year in the first half of 2009 as lower cost of funds was countered by a reduction in business volumes and higher loan impairment charges, due to a slowdown in the Saudi economy.
While impaired loans are currently low, there is concern about the lack of transparency around some of the larger problematic exposures in Saudi Arabia.
Fitch expects profitability to be adequate in FY09 and 2010 despite the high likelihood of additional credit costs. Impairments on investments, while significant in 2008, are not expected to be large in 2009 and should be easily absorbed by core revenues.
Credit risk remains the main risk for ANB and Fitch expects asset quality ratios to deteriorate further as loans season in a slowing economy. Borrower concentration is also a concern as a few problematic exposures could result in a significant decline in asset quality. Market risks appear to be well-controlled, Fitch added.-Reuters