Islamic banks in GCC likely to outperform conventional counterparts: Report

Analysts at Moody’s said that Islamic banks perform better primarily as a result of their low funding costs, which reflect their reliance on largely stable current and savings account balances. (Reuters)
Updated 19 March 2017

Islamic banks in GCC likely to outperform conventional counterparts: Report

JEDDAH: The profitability of Islamic banks in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) is likely to outpace that of their conventional peers for the second consecutive year in 2017 on the back of stronger margins and the resilient cost of risk, said a report issued by Moody’s Investors Service.

According to the report, Islamic banks have become more profitable than their conventional counterparts in 2016 after trailing for five years.
“Islamic banks will be able to maintain their profitability in 2017, as lower funding costs will support their margins against a backdrop of rising interest rates, while improvements in their risk management and asset quality will further ease the pressure on their cost of risk,” said Nitish Bhojnagarwala, assistant vice president — analyst at Moody’s.
Analysts at Moody’s said that Islamic banks perform better primarily as a result of their low funding costs, which reflect their reliance on largely stable current and savings account balances. “Islamic banks also tend to have higher asset yields, given their focus on retail and the real estate-related lending,” the report said.
Moody’s expects that Islamic banks will retain a margin advantage of about 40 basis points over conventional banks in 2017. Islamic banks’ net profit margins are analogous to conventional banks’ net interest margins.
“The cost of risk for Islamic banks has converged with the conventional peers as they diversify away from real estate lending toward other sectors and tighten their risk management practices. In the past, higher impairment charges on loans and investments have dampened Islamic banks’ profitability,” said Bhojnagarwala.
“Conventional banks will continue to beat Islamic peers in terms of cost efficiency,” he added.
Islamic banks have a higher cost base because they are younger and more focused on retail customer segments. This means higher levels of investment in branch network expansion and technology. Conventional banks in the GCC, in contrast, have already established their branch networks.


Huawei in early talks with US firms to license 5G platform: executive

Updated 19 October 2019

Huawei in early talks with US firms to license 5G platform: executive

  • Currently there are no US 5G providers and European rivals Ericsson and Nokia are generally more expensive
  • Huawei has spent billions to develop its 5G technology since 2009

WASHINGTON: Blacklisted Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei is in early-stage talks with some US telecoms companies about licensing its 5G network technology to them, a Huawei executive told Reuters on Friday.
Vincent Pang, senior vice president and board director at the company said some firms had expressed interest in both a long-term deal or a one-off transfer, declining to name or quantify the companies.
“There are some companies talking to us, but it would take a long journey to really finalize everything,” Pang explained on a visit to Washington this week. “They have shown interest,” he added, saying conversations are only a couple of weeks old and not at a detailed level yet.
The US government, fearing Huawei equipment could be used to spy on customers, has led a campaign to convince allies to bar it from their 5G networks. Huawei has repeatedly denied the claim.
Currently there are no US 5G providers and European rivals Ericsson and Nokia are generally more expensive.
In May, Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms equipment provider, was placed on a US blacklist over national security concerns, banning it from buying American-made parts without a special license.
Washington also has brought criminal charges against the company, alleging bank fraud, violations of US sanctions against Iran, and theft of trade secrets, which Huawei denies.
Rules that were due out from the Commerce Department earlier this month are expected to effectively ban the company from the US telecoms supply chain.
The idea of a one-off fee in exchange for access to Huawei’s 5G patents, licenses, code and know-how was first floated by CEO and founder Ren Zhengfei in interviews with the New York Times and the Economist last month. But it was not previously clear whether there was any interest from US companies.
In an interview with Reuters last month, a State Department official expressed skepticism of Ren’s offer.
“It’s just not realistic that carriers would take on this equipment and then manage all of the software and hardware themselves,” the person said. “If there are software bugs that are built in to the initial software, there would be no way to necessarily tell that those are there and they could be activated at any point, even if the software code is turned over to the mobile operators,” the official added.
For his part, Pang declined to predict whether any deal might be signed. However, he warned that the research and development investment required by continuously improving the platform after a single-transfer from Huawei would be very costly for the companies.
Huawei has spent billions to develop its 5G technology since 2009.