Pandemic to stall UAE banks’ recovery in early 2021: A&M report

Pandemic to stall UAE banks’ recovery in early 2021: A&M report
Return on equity fell to 7.7 percent in 2020 from 13.3 percent the previous year, A&M said in a report on the UAE’s top 10 banks. (File/AFP)
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Updated 09 March 2021

Pandemic to stall UAE banks’ recovery in early 2021: A&M report

Pandemic to stall UAE banks’ recovery in early 2021: A&M report
  • Growth in loans and advances during 2020 slowed sharply to 1.4 percent from 13.2 percent in 2019

DUBAI: The pandemic will continue to affect profitability for banks in the United Arabia Emirates (UAE) in the early quarters of 2021, after a sharp drop in return on equity last year, consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) said on Tuesday.
Return on equity fell to 7.7 percent in 2020 from 13.3 percent the previous year, A&M said in a report on the UAE’s top 10 banks.
“We possibly have not turned the corner,” Asad Ahmed, head of Middle East financial services for A&M told a briefing, saying this goes for banks globally as well as in the UAE.
“In terms of the region and the UAE, 2021 will continue to be a year which does not produce stellar results, but hopefully next year onwards we will see the numbers turn around.”
Growth in loans and advances during 2020 slowed sharply to 1.4 percent from 13.2 percent in 2019, the report said.
2021 is expected to be less volatile than the past year, but banks might see a deterioration in their asset quality after the completion of the central bank’s stimulus scheme later this year, it said.
Total loan-loss provisions jumped 79 percent year-on-year to 28.1 billion dirhams ($7.65 billion) for the top 10 UAE banks last year, as a challenging economic environment and banks’ exposure to several high-profile cases boosted impairments, A&M said.
UAE banks have been hurt by their exposure to hospital operator NMC Health, which disclosed more than $4 billion in hidden debt after short-seller Muddy Waters questioned its financial reporting.
The hospital operator filed for administration in London in April last year.


Italian fashion brand Diesel launches online shopping platform in KSA, UAE

Italian fashion brand Diesel launches online shopping platform in KSA, UAE
Updated 2 min 51 sec ago

Italian fashion brand Diesel launches online shopping platform in KSA, UAE

Italian fashion brand Diesel launches online shopping platform in KSA, UAE
  • The website will feature new collections of the fashion line, as well as exclusive deals for online shoppers

DUBAI: Italian fashion retailer Diesel has launched its own e-commerce platform for customers in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the company said on Sunday.
The website will feature new collections of the fashion line, as well as exclusive deals for online shoppers. It will also offer free shipping for customers in both countries.
Diesel has been in the market for four decades and is known for its denim and casual fashion offerings.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created huge demand for online shopping in the Gulf, with many retailers accelerating their digital efforts to take advantage of it


Kuwaiti coffee delivery app raises $10m in new funding

Kuwaiti coffee delivery app raises $10m in new funding
Updated 54 sec ago

Kuwaiti coffee delivery app raises $10m in new funding

Kuwaiti coffee delivery app raises $10m in new funding
  • The funding was provided by Kuwaiti listed investment house Al Imtiaz Investment Group
  • COFE was conceived in 2017 by Kuwait-based founder Ali Al-Ebrahim, developed in Silicon Valley and launched in 2018

DUBAI: Kuwaiti coffee delivery app COFE has raised $10 million in new funding, which it aims to use to scale up its operations in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and the UK and to expand into Egypt and Turkey.
The funding was provided by Kuwaiti listed investment house Al Imtiaz Investment Group. COFE was conceived in 2017 by Kuwait-based founder Ali Al-Ebrahim, developed in Silicon Valley and launched in 2018.
“From its early days, COFE has shown tremendous potential as a unique offering that caters to discerning coffee connoisseurs and their consumption habits, while helping to grow and transform revenue streams for vendors. Our partners have recognized this and are confident in our ability to serve existing customers and vendors, while expanding into new markets,” Al-Ebrahim said in a press statement.
Zev Siegl, a co-founder of international coffee chain Starbucks, is also an adviser to COFE. “I am happy to collaborate with the COFE App team and proud of the success and development they’ve achieved,” Siegl told the Mubasher website in April 2019. “During my stay in Kuwait, I visited more than 20 coffee shops and I was impressed by the high level of service, innovation and the high demand on coffee shops which ensure that the COFE app market will keep on growing and will reach the international market very soon.”


Israel and Greece sign record defense deal

Israel and Greece sign record defense deal
Updated 18 April 2021

Israel and Greece sign record defense deal

Israel and Greece sign record defense deal
  • The agreement includes a $1.65 billion contract for the establishment and operation of a training center for the Hellenic Air Force

JERUSALEM: Israel and Greece have signed their biggest ever defense procurement deal, which Israel said on Sunday would strengthen political and economic ties between the countries.
The agreement includes a $1.65 billion contract for the establishment and operation of a training center for the Hellenic Air Force by Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems over a 22-year period, Israel’s defense ministry said.
The training center will be modeled on Israel’s own flight academy and will be equipped with 10 M-346 training aircraft produced by Italian company Leonardo, the ministry said.
Elbit will supply kits to upgrade and operate Greece’s T-6 aircraft and also provide training, simulators and logistical support.
“I am certain that (this program) will upgrade the capabilities and strengthen the economies of Israel and Greece and thus the partnership between our two countries will deepen on the defense, economic and political levels,” said Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz.
The announcement follows a meeting in Cyprus on Friday between the UAE, Greek, Cypriot and Israeli foreign ministers, who agreed to deepen cooperation between their countries.


Dubai Islamic Bank sees no impact from NMC law suit

Dubai Islamic Bank sees no impact from NMC law suit
Updated 18 April 2021

Dubai Islamic Bank sees no impact from NMC law suit

Dubai Islamic Bank sees no impact from NMC law suit
  • Last week it emerged that NMC was suing a Dubai bank in the Abu Dhabi courts in a dispute that could complicate the company’s multi-billion-dollar debt restructuring

DUBAI: Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) said on Sunday it does not expect any “negative impact” from a case against it brought by the administrators of hospital operator NMC Group.
It made the disclosure in a letter to the Dubai Financial Market posted on the website of the bourse.
Last week it emerged that NMC was suing a Dubai bank in the Abu Dhabi courts in a dispute that could complicate the company’s multi-billion-dollar debt restructuring and potentially delay payouts to creditors, Reuters reported.
It was the latest twist in the tale of the UAE ‘s biggest hospital group which last year disclosed more than $4 billion in hidden debt. Its UAE operations were placed into administration and creditor claims are understood to now exceed $6.4 billion.
“It is a matter of public record that an application has been filed by the administrators of the NMC Group in the Abu Dhabi Global Markets Court, in which Dubai Islamic Bank and 12 insurance companies and third party service providers are respondents,” DIB CEO Hassan Al-Serkal said in the statement to the Dubai financial Market, where it’s shares are listed. “DIB does not anticipate any material negative impact arising from this application. As this is an ongoing legal matter, we can comment further at this time.”


Pandemic and property prices weigh on UAE banks says S&P

Pandemic and property prices weigh on UAE banks says S&P
Updated 18 April 2021

Pandemic and property prices weigh on UAE banks says S&P

Pandemic and property prices weigh on UAE banks says S&P
  • Residential real estate prices have declined more than 40 percent since the peak in the second-quarter 2014
  • The credit ratings agency expects prices to remain under pressure in 2021

DUBAI: The COVID-19 pandemic, lower oil prices, and continued pressure on the real estate sector have increased risks for UAE banks, S&P Global Ratings said in a report on Sunday.
It expects the sector’s problem loans to increase further once current regulatory forbearance measures are lifted and banks start to account for the impact of the economic shock. However the process is expected to be gradual, minimizing the overall impact.
After the pandemic started, the UAE Central Bank (CBUAE) implemented a Targeted Economic Support Scheme (TESS), which helped ease the pressure on corporate issuers and small and mid-size enterprises, S&P said. But it did not reduce credit risk on the banking system’s balance sheet.
“The UAE has a wealthy economy with strong fiscal and external positions. The strength of the government’s net asset position has helped counteract the negative impact of lower oil prices on economic growth since late 2015,” S&P said in the report authored by credit analysts Puneet Tuli and Mohamed Damak.
It said that the pandemic has presented a new challenge to the economy and real estate sector.
S&P estimates the banking system’s total exposure to the real estate and construction sectors stood at 28 percent as of year-end 2020, assuming that one-third of personal loans for consumption purposes are channeled to real estate.
Residential real estate prices have declined more than 40 percent since the peak in the second-quarter 2014.
The credit ratings agency expects prices to remain under pressure in 2021.
Another 20 percent of the banking sector’s total lending covered sectors such as trade, transport,storage, communication, and personal loans for business purposes at year-end 2020.
A portion of these loans are at risk, which in addition to stress in real estate may lead to increased credit losses for UAE banks, it said.