GCC banks returning to pre-COVID-19 levels amid higher oil prices: S&P Global

GCC banks returning to pre-COVID-19 levels amid higher oil prices: S&P Global
Saudi and Kuwaiti banks showed the strongest performance among the four largest GCC markets (Shutterstock)
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Updated 23 September 2022

GCC banks returning to pre-COVID-19 levels amid higher oil prices: S&P Global

GCC banks returning to pre-COVID-19 levels amid higher oil prices: S&P Global

RIYADH: Gulf Cooperation Council banks are returning to form after a strong first half of 2022, with earnings for most of them reaching almost pre-pandemic levels by the end of the year, according to S&P Global Ratings.

This optimism is spurred by high oil prices, rising interest rates, supporting the banks' creditworthiness, along with new public-sector-backed projects, the agency said.

In the first half, margins slightly improved in most systems. 

Saudi and Kuwaiti banks showed the strongest performance among the four largest GCC markets, with earnings already almost reaching pre-pandemic levels, while Qatari and the UAE banks are taking a bit longer to recover, according to the report.

In the second half of the year, higher net interest margins will likely offset an increasing cost of risk, leaving banks with stronger full-year profits than 2021.

The cost of risk will likely stabilize at normalized levels this year, partly due to adequate provisioning.

Still, some loans that benefited from support measures may turn nonperforming, S&P said.

GCC banks face a less certain 2023, with expectations of lower oil prices and risks to economic growth in the US and Europe.

Saudi Arabia

As Saudi banks’ financial performance has almost recovered to pre-COVID-19 levels, S&P expects an average return on assets of 2 percent in 2022 compared with 2.1 percent in 2019. 

Credit to the private sector expanded 8.5 percent over the first half, due to stronger-than-expected mortgage growth, owing to market saturation and a pick-up in demand for corporate credit driven by Vision 2030 projects. 

Aggregated cost of risk remained low, at about 46 basis points, due to the strong economic rebound, and the share of Stage 3 loans remained broadly flat, estimated at about 2 percent. 

Saudi banks’ non-performing loan coverage stood at 160 percent to 170 percent in 2022. 

Higher credit growth momentum will continue into the second half of the year, mostly due to stronger-than-expected performance in the mortgage portfolio, according to S&P.

“We now expect credit growth to reach about 15 percent in 2022,” the agency said.

However, there is expectation that higher interest rates and market saturation will eventually curb mortgage origination.

S&P expects corporate lending to start contributing to loan growth, as the gradual increase in interest rates will continue to feed Saudi banks' margins, eventually pushing them up by year-end. 

Still, the cost of risk is expected to somewhat increase over the second half to 70 bps-80 bps as some of the loans restructured post-pandemic are reclassified. 

The systemwide ROA is set to stabilize at 1.9 percent to 2.1 percent from 2022. 

The increasing risk of recessions in the US and Europe, along with higher interest rates, could pressure the operating environment in the Kingdom, especially if oil prices drop. Also, higher interest rates could result in a shift away from non-commission-bearing deposits, which may pressure banks' margins.


Higher interest rates and lower cost of risk in the UAE will support banking sector profitability, according to S&P Ratings.

Asset quality is also set to stabilize while the NPLs are expected to remain contained with the support scheme ending.

Banks' performance in the UAE improved in first-half 2022 due to lower cost of risk and higher interest rates, while the Central Bank of the UAE's COVID-19-related targeted economic support scheme also helped the system, limiting the increase in NPLs. 

At the same time, the macroeconomic environment has started to improve driven by higher oil prices and recovery in the non-oil sector.

Better operating conditions led to higher lending growth in first-half 2202 compared with 2021, although this could be tempered by increasing interest rates in the second half. 


Higher oil prices and the economic recovery in Kuwait have supported faster lending growth and lower cost of risk, creating a supportive environment.

Further reduction in cost of risk and higher lending growth of 9 percent year-on-year in the first half led to stronger banks' earnings.

Non-interest income continued to benefit from the improved operating environment, while higher inflation and the resumption of some costs as the pandemic wanes spurred a 10 percent increase in operating costs compared with the first half of 2021, offsetting the benefits from higher revenue.

Momentum may slow in the second half, with some NPL formation, according to S&P Global. 


The Qatari private sector credit is set to grow by 5 percent in 2022, less than half the average rate seen over the previous three years, according to S&P Global. 

The World Cup at the end of the year along with positive sentiment stemming from high natural gas prices will push consumption lending to strongest growth.

However, government construction projects have mostly been completed, which is shown in banks' first-half performance. 

Overall credit could reduce slightly if lending to the government continues to decline in the second half, which the agency views as likely given the projected fiscal surplus of about 12 percent of GDP.


Saudi Arabia issues 46 mining licenses in January 

Saudi Arabia issues 46 mining licenses in January 
Updated 20 March 2023

Saudi Arabia issues 46 mining licenses in January 

Saudi Arabia issues 46 mining licenses in January 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources issued 46 new mining licenses in January 2023 – a 33 percent drop compared to the previous month.

The ministry reported that the permits included 31 reconnaissance licenses, 14 building materials quarry licenses, and extra mineral ores license, according to the Saudi Press Agency. 

It also reported that there are 2,230 mining licenses valid in the sector until the end of January 2023, with building materials quarry licenses accounting for 1,331.

This was followed by 647 reconnaissance licenses, and then 178 for mining and minor mine exploitation.

Some 42 were issued for observation, and 32 extra mineral ores licenses were granted. 

Riyadh region gained the most mining licenses in the sector, with 507 permits, followed by the Makkah region with 418 permits. The Eastern Province had 369 licenses, Madinah had 242 and 191 licenses for Asir. 

Saudi Arabia's Tabuk region had 139 licenses, Al-Qassim had 102 licenses, followed by 68 licenses in Hail, Jazan had 65 licenses, Najran was issued with 45, Al-Baha had 37 and the Northern Province area had 25, along with Al-Jouf’s 22 licenses. 

In accordance with the goals of the Kingdom's Vision 2030 and the National Industry Development and Logistics Program, the Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources seeks to protect and increase the mining sector’s value. 

To make mining the third pillar of the national economy and seek to harness the Kingdom's mineral resources, which are spread across more than 5,300 sites and are valued at approximately SR5 trillion ($1.33 trillion).

Saudi Arabia’s factory sector sees 50% growth since Vision 2030’s launch: Deputy minister

Saudi Arabia’s factory sector sees 50% growth since Vision 2030’s launch: Deputy minister
Updated 20 March 2023

Saudi Arabia’s factory sector sees 50% growth since Vision 2030’s launch: Deputy minister

Saudi Arabia’s factory sector sees 50% growth since Vision 2030’s launch: Deputy minister

RIYADH: The number of factories in Saudi Arabia has increased 50 percent since the launch of Vision 2030 in 2016, according to the Deputy Minister of Industry and Mineral resources Osama bin Abdulaziz Al-Zamil.

His comments come after figures released last year showed there are now more than 10,000 industrial facilities in the Kingdom, with 1,023 factories starting operations in 2022 alone.

Speaking during the first day of the annual Saudi Industrial Renaissance Forum that took place in the Kingdom’s Al-Yamamah University, Al-Zamil affirmed reliance on the industrial and mining sectors as economic tributaries.

The deputy minister also use his speech at the event to praise the growing Saudi workforce, saying: “The bet today on our young men and women is a big and winning bet as they are the largest percentage in this country, which makes them the basic base for our transformation and change in all fields and their exceptional capabilities and permanent ambition for positive change constitute a great force for the success of the Kingdom’s vision programs and contribute to the development of the homeland.”

The Saudi Industrial Renaissance Forum focused on the vital role that the industry plays in developing and diversifying the national economy which also contributes to achieving the economic and social goals of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.

“The forum brings together a group of speakers, experts and interested persons with specialization in lectures, discussion sessions, working papers sessions and refereed research papers on many topics, and witnesses a number of important sessions,” said Hussam bin Muhammad Ramadan, Al-Yamamah University president and chairman of the organizing committee. 

Paddy Padmanathan steps down as ACWA Power CEO after 18 years

Paddy Padmanathan steps down as ACWA Power CEO after 18 years
Updated 20 March 2023

Paddy Padmanathan steps down as ACWA Power CEO after 18 years

Paddy Padmanathan steps down as ACWA Power CEO after 18 years

RIYADH: ACWA Power’s CEO Suntharesan 'Paddy' Padmanathan resigned on Monday, reported the Saudi Stock Exchange.

The board accepted Padmanathan’s resignation, and welcomed Marco Arcelli, an energy leader with over 30 years of experience, as the new CEO, revealed ACWA Power.    

Arcelli was previously chairman at Europe’s seventh largest electricity producer Ep New Energy, and had worked at Enel for 16 years where he was CEO of Enel North America and Slovenske Elektrarne.   

ACWA Power assured that Padmanathan will remain in the company serving as a member of the board of directors.   

In a statement, the company thanked the resigning CEO for his 18 years of service, and “his dedication during that period to elevate the company’s status as a leading global company in the field of renewable power generation, water desalination and green hydrogen production which culminated by its successful listing as a public company.”  

ACWA Power is Saudi Arabia’s leading utility service provider with a net profit of SR1.5 billion ($411 million) in 2022, according to a bourse filing. The company reported 103 percent increase in its profits from the previous year.   

In 2021, the Public Investment Fund-backed firm reported a net profit of SR758.8 million.   

The bourse filing further noted that the company’s fourth quarter net profit after zakat and tax surged 94 percent to SR656.6 million, compared to SR338.85 million in the previous year. 

According to the bourse statement, the firm’s financial results in 2022 were backed by higher operating income before impairment and other expenses.   

The profits were also driven by higher contributions from development and construction management services for the projects which achieved financial close last year, adequately supported by lower project development costs.   

Closing bell: TASI rises 60 points 

Closing bell: TASI rises 60 points 
Updated 20 March 2023

Closing bell: TASI rises 60 points 

Closing bell: TASI rises 60 points 

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index increased 60.39 points on Monday – or 0.59 percent – to close at 10,218.12.

MSCI Tadawul 30 Index inched up 0.69 percent to 1,386.65, and the parallel market, Nomu, slightly edged down by 0.05 percent closing at 18,968.30.   

TASI’s total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR4.56 billion ($1.21 billion) as 111 stocks of the listed 224 advanced and 95 receded.    

Themar Development Holding Co. was the top gainer of the day, closing the trading session up 9.91 percent at SR44.35 

The second-best performer was Alima Tokio Marine Co., increasing 9.70 percent to SR14.48.   

Elm was the third-best performer, rising 7.67 percent - or 31 points – to SR435, compared to its opening at SR404. 

Other top performers of the day were Dar Alarkan Real Estate Development Co., and Makkah Construction and Development Co. 

The biggest faller of the day was BinDawood Holding Co., which slipped by 2.96 percent to SR52.5.  

Nahdi Medical Co. is the next worst performer of the day, decreasing by 2.48 percent to SR181. 

The other poor performers were Gulf Insurance Group, Alinma Hospitality REIT Fund, and Jabal Omar Development Co. 

Non-institutional foreign investors, excluding Saudi Aramco, reduced their stake in Tadawul-listed stocks to 10.45 percent, or SR281.79 billion, which is represented by swap holders, residents, and qualified foreign investors. 

On an announcement front, Saudi National Bank's share price increased by 3.86 percent, closing at SR44.4. The bank also said in a statement that the changes in the valuation of SNB’s investment in Credit Suisse have no impact on SNB’s growth plans. 

Rawasi Albina Investment Co. announced its annual financial results for 2022, reporting a 19.54 percent increase in its net profit to SR20.8 million. Moreover, Rawasi’s share price climbed 11.98 percent, closing at SR80. 

Perfect Presentation for Commercial Services Co. also announced a tremendous increase in net profit by 63.06 percent to SR131.4 million. The company’s shares closed 3.55 up at SR175. 

CHUBB Arabia Cooperative Insurance Co. reported a 12.54 percent decrease in net profit to almost SR13.4 million compared to SR15.3 million in 2021. CHUBB’s share price decreased 0.24 percent to close at SR16.48. 

The company correlated the decline to an increase in General and Administrative Expenses an increase in Policy Acquisition Costs in higher drilling utilization and an increase in daily rate, notably in the offshore segment   

Dallah Healthcare Co. reported a net profit of SR274 billion, up 6.13 percent compared to 2021. Dallah attributed the increase to a revenue increase of 18.18 percent in 2022 to SR2.4 billion. The healthcare company’s share price slightly decreased by 0.56 percent, closing at SR141.6. 

Saudi Reinsurance Co. also announced its financial results for 2022 and reported a net loss of SR1.6 million, down 58.1 percent compared to almost SR4 million in 2021. However, its share price increased by 1.66 percent to SR14.7 per share. 

Aramco, DHL form new procurement and logistics hub JV

Aramco, DHL form new procurement and logistics hub JV
Updated 20 March 2023

Aramco, DHL form new procurement and logistics hub JV

Aramco, DHL form new procurement and logistics hub JV

RIYADH: The Saudi Arabian Oil Co., also known as Saudi Aramco, announced a new end-to-end procurement and logistics hub joint venture with logistics firm DHL Supply Chain. 

Expected to be operational in 2025, the JV aims to initially focus on the Saudi market, with plans to expand across the Middle East and North Africa region.  

The new venture aims to provide top-notch integrated procurement and logistics services to further enhance supply chain efficiency as well as sustainability in the region, the company said in a press release.   

The JV, which the company said is the first-of-its-kind hub, will provide reliable and sturdy end-to-end services to customers within the industrial, energy, chemical, and petrochemical sectors.  

“This partnership brings together two industry leaders, each with long and storied histories,” said Aramco President and CEO Amin Nasser.  

By combining the exceptional energy, chemicals and industrial supply chain ecosystem of Aramco with the shipping and logistics expertise of DHL, he said they aim to enable the procurement and logistics hub joint venture to serve as a one-stop hub for customers’ supply chain needs.  

“We anticipate that it will not only advance the economic goals of our two companies but also accelerate growth across Saudi Arabia and the MENA region,” the CEO emphasized.   

DHL Supply Chain CEO Oscar de Bok added: “By working in partnership with Aramco, we aim to provide regional and multinational businesses from these sectors access to a robust international logistics network, fostering positive economic growth while promoting sustainable activities.”