Fitch places six GCC banks on rating watch negative

Fitch places six GCC banks on rating watch negative
Short Url
Updated 25 October 2021

Fitch places six GCC banks on rating watch negative

Fitch places six GCC banks on rating watch negative

CAIRO: Excessive reliance on external funding in the Qatari banking sector has prompted Fitch Ratings to place six Qatari banks on Rating Watch Negative.

This means that the ratings agency has a negative outlook for the banks and might decrease their current credit ratings in the near future.

The six banks are Qatar International Islamic Bank, Dukhan Bank, Doha Bank, Al Khaliji Bank, Qatar Islamic Bank and Ahli Bank Qatar.

Fitch said that non-resident funding in the country’s banking system reached $193 billion at the end of August, which was 48 percent of the sector’s liabilities — compared with $121 billion and 38 percent at the end of 2018.
At the same time, foreign assets held by the banks remained relatively stable.

Both of these developments led the net external debt to jump to a significant $133 billion, or 82 percent of the gross domestic product forecast for 2021. It was much lower at the end of 2018 — at $57 billion, or 38 percent of the GDP, Fitch added.

Moreover, total assets of the banking system leapt from 212 percent of GDP at the end of 2018 to 302 percent of forecast 2021 GDP.

Fitch explained that this outcome, along with the excessive external funding, could hamper the authorities’ ability to support the banking sector in case of hardships.

In a previous report released by S&P Global Ratings on GCC countries’ banking systems, only Bahrain — aside from Qatar — exceeded the 10-percent mark for the net external debt/system-wide loans ratio. Other countries even reported negative values. 

This is a sign that the majority of banks in the region were mainly depending on core customer deposits not external funding, unlike Qatari banks.


Data-led innovation needed to help Saudi firms process information, says Dell ahead of LEAP

Data-led innovation needed to help Saudi firms process information, says Dell ahead of LEAP
Updated 14 sec ago

Data-led innovation needed to help Saudi firms process information, says Dell ahead of LEAP

Data-led innovation needed to help Saudi firms process information, says Dell ahead of LEAP

RIYADH: The majority of Saudi businesses gather data faster than it can be analyzed and used, Dell Technologies has warned ahead of the LEAP tech event being held in Riyadh from Feb. 1-3.

The US firm is set to take part in the forum, which is focused on future and disruptive technologies.

Ahead of the event, Mohamed Talaat, vice president in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Levant at Dell Technologies, pointed to research by his company in 2021 that showed 70 percent of Saudi respondents have data-driven business and consider data as the lifeblood of their organisation.

However, 59 percent said they were gathering data faster than they could analyze and use.

Talaat said: “Saudi Arabia today stands at the threshold of change, underpinned by the nation’s ambitious vision and drive to transform, innovate and build a legacy for generations to come.

“Dell Technologies remains committed to advancing the country’s transformation agenda. We're empowering local organizations with end-to-end infrastructure and client solutions. They not only support a data-driven work culture, but are also capable of predicting the future and achieving better business results.”


Pandemic fast food orders see Saudi chain Herfy triple profits in 2021

Pandemic fast food orders see Saudi chain Herfy triple profits in 2021
Updated 9 min 33 sec ago

Pandemic fast food orders see Saudi chain Herfy triple profits in 2021

Pandemic fast food orders see Saudi chain Herfy triple profits in 2021

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s largest food chain, Herfy Food Service Co. has seen over a threefold rise in its estimated annual profit for 2021, after a surge in its sales during the pandemic.

The estimated net profit amounted to SR162 million ($43.2 million), compared to SR52.8 million a year earlier, according to a bourse filing.

The hike was propelled by a jump in sales of 22 percent, reaching more than SR1.3 billion, as well as a fall in general and administrative expenses.

This came despite a decrease in other income and higher selling and marketing expenses, the Riyadh-based food chain owner said in a bourse statement.

Herfy Food Services was established in 1981, and the first Herfy restaurant opened in Riyadh that same year.


Shares in SoftBank trading at their lowest level since May 2020

Shares in SoftBank trading at their lowest level since May 2020
Updated 27 min 16 sec ago

Shares in SoftBank trading at their lowest level since May 2020

Shares in SoftBank trading at their lowest level since May 2020

RIYADH: Japan's SoftBank, backed by the Saudi Public Investment Fund was among the most significant victims of the tech stock sell-off across Asia on Thursday, Bloomberg reported.

Investors turned on billionaire Masayoshi Son's company as the tightening phase of central bank policies unfolded.

The stock dropped as much as 9.8 percent in Tokyo, the most since March 2020, as Nasdaq futures tumbled and shares of the firm’s biggest investment, Alibaba Group, dropped in Hong Kong.

Hawkish signals from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell led investors to bet against technology companies, which have powered much of the recent growth in global markets: something SoftBank has been gambling on with its Vision Funds of speculative tech bets.

“SoftBank is a poster child of a firm highly leveraged to the current asset bubbles,” wrote Amir Anvarzadeh, senior strategist at Asymmetric Advisors Pte, who recommends shorting the stock.

“This latest lurch down in its value could add further pressure on its financing structure.”

Shares in SoftBank traded at their lowest level since May 2020, with reports that a planned sale of its Arm chip unit to Nvidia was likely to fall through also weighing on the stock.

Analysts pointed out that the failure of the deal may lead to a credit downgrade.


Gulf countries to mitigate US Hawkish monetary policies, with strong liquidity and profitable banks

Gulf countries to mitigate US Hawkish monetary policies, with strong liquidity and profitable banks
Updated 34 min 36 sec ago

Gulf countries to mitigate US Hawkish monetary policies, with strong liquidity and profitable banks

Gulf countries to mitigate US Hawkish monetary policies, with strong liquidity and profitable banks

US Federal Reserve officials signaled on Wednesday an interest rates raise starting March, with the decision driven by high inflation, a tightening labor market and the fast rebound of the economy as pandemic restrictions are eased.

Although international investors are nervously watching the Fed’s next move, Gulf financial researchers remain positive on the region’s prospects.

Soaring oil prices are shielding Gulf economies from the US’s tightening of monetary policies, as they provide them with high liquidities. 

A strong banking sector and commodities market are to also profit positively from the Fed’s next moves, according to Jaap Meijer, head of research at Arqaam Capital.

“While we are cautious about the US equity market, as high valuations for technology shares unwind, we remain constructive on GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) equity markets,” he said, adding: “We expect GCC monetary policymakers to reflect US Fed rate hikes entirely (such as in Saudi or the UAE which currencies are pegged to the dollar) or at least partially (in other GCC countries).”

“However, GCC banks, which comprise 40 percent of the region’s indexes, will enormously benefit from higher net interest margins, particularly Saudi banks.” he underlines, as banks' profitability tends to increase with high interest rates, boosting their net margins.

Meijer warns nonetheless that he is cautious about Egypt’s equity markets. 

“Egypt runs at a low single-digit current account deficit and has a high USD dependency, despite strong foreign exchange reserves. We expect fiscal and monetary policy to be managed very tightly and could see a rate hike by the end of the year, which will likely weigh on equity valuations, as T-bills remain an attractive alternative for local investors,” adds Meijer.

Regarding regional commodities, higher commodity prices, particularly Aluminum and Urea, will remain supportive for the Gulf commodity sector, explains Meijer. Urea has important uses as a fertilizer and feed supplement. It is also a starting material for the manufacture of plastics and drugs as well as batteries.

This would result in higher index weights that should continue to support Qatar and Saudi Arabia valuations. 

“We see M&A arbitrage and further economic reforms being a tailwind,” he added.

While international bond markets will be negatively affected by the interest hike, the GCC will be able to mitigate the impact. 

Bonds markets are fixed income instruments used by corporations and governments as a borrowing tool. 

“Liquidity will most likely become less abundant as the asset purchases will end in early March, while the balance sheet run-off will begin after rates have started to rise. Nonetheless credit spreads in the GCC should remain tight on strong liquidity, with almost all governments running large fiscal surpluses as oil prices remain high,” emphasizes Meijer.

The region’s local sovereign wealth funds will continue internationalizing and diversifying their holdings. 

“They can afford a risk-on approach, reaping benefits from potential market locations as the US. Fed tightens its monetary policy,” he concludes.


Profits of SABIC Agri-Nutrients jump over 300% to $1.2bn

Profits of SABIC Agri-Nutrients jump over 300% to $1.2bn
Updated 27 January 2022

Profits of SABIC Agri-Nutrients jump over 300% to $1.2bn

Profits of SABIC Agri-Nutrients jump over 300% to $1.2bn

RIYADH: Saudi Arabian petrochemical firm SABIC Agri-Nutrients Co. has seen a nearly fourfold jump in its profits in 2021, buoyed by an increase in selling prices.

Amid global economic recovery in 2021, net profit soared to SR5.23 billion ($1.2 billion), compared to SR1.29 billion a year earlier, according to a bourse filing.

Revenues almost tripled, reaching SR9.59 billion, and the profit per share was up from SR3 to SR11.

The company, half-owned by SABIC, attributed the profit hike to higher selling prices of products.

However, profits were capped by an increase in inventory as well as general and administrative expenses, the firm said in a statement to the Saudi exchange, Tadawul.

The homegrown fertilizer producer earlier said it plans to take over 49 percent of Dubai-based ETG Inputs Holdco’s share capital amid a SR1.2 billion deal.