Saudi Arabia ahead of US, EU and UK when it comes to Basel IV compliance

Saudi Arabia ahead of US, EU and UK when it comes to Basel IV compliance
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Updated 25 February 2024
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Saudi Arabia ahead of US, EU and UK when it comes to Basel IV compliance

Saudi Arabia ahead of US, EU and UK when it comes to Basel IV compliance
  • Basel IV regulations mandate that banks maintain specific leverage ratios and designated reserve capital

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s dedication to financial stability has been underlined by figures from the Kingdom’s central bank showing its capital adequacy ratio stands at 19.5 percent – far above the 8 percent minimum requirement introduced in the wake of the 2008 economic crisis.

This position comes as Saudi Arabia is one of the few countries to be fully compliant with Basel IV regulations, which mandate that banks maintain specific leverage ratios and designated reserve capital.
This adherence to global standards contrasts with the varied timelines seen worldwide for Basel IV implementation.
While the EU, the UK, and Switzerland are navigating finalization processes, the US is yet to commence consultations on these critical reforms, which remain a top priority for regulatory bodies amidst recent bank failures.
Although Saudi Arabia’s ratio falls slightly below the 20 percent recorded in the same period in 2022, it still comfortably exceeds the Basel III minimum requirement of 8 percent, encompassing both Tier 1 and Tier 2 capital.
Basel III is a set of international banking regulations developed by the Bank for International Settlements to promote stability in the international financial system. It was introduced following the 2008 global financial crisis to improve the banks’ ability to handle any shocks from financial stress and strengthen both their transparency and their disclosure.
Basel III builds on the previous accords, Basel I and Basel II, and is part of a process to improve regulation in the banking industry. Basel IV, or 3.1, was introduced in 2017 and is the final reform of Basel III. It focuses on strengthening the banking sector for increased resilience against future crises. The target timelines for implementation of the final reforms vary significantly worldwide.
Originally scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2022, the implementation of Basel IV was postponed by 12 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with transitional dates being revised and varies among countries.
The Basel IV proposals seek to restore credibility in the calculation of risk-weighted assets and improve the comparability of banks’ capital ratios.
One of the most significant risks faced by traditional banks is credit risk, which involves the uncertainty that loans, the primary assets of a bank, may not be repaid, leading to unexpected losses.
To mitigate this risk, regulators impose a regulatory capital intended to absorb losses in times of credit default. The absence of sufficient capital can lead to a bank collapse, posing not only a threat to the individual bank but also to the broader financial system.

In a February 2023 report, Fitch Ratings highlighted that Saudi Arabia, along with Australia, Canada, Indonesia, and South Korea, was among the few jurisdictions that successfully met the globally agreed official Basel IV implementation date in January 2023. The report also emphasized Saudi Arabia’s status as one of the most sophisticated and conservative regulators in the Middle East and Africa.
Under these regulations, banks are required to measure their risk-weighted assets in a calculation that involves assigning different risk weights to various categories of assets based on their perceived riskiness. The goal is to reflect the varying degrees of credit risk associated with different types of assets in a bank’s portfolio.
Banks are then required to assign regulatory capital to ensure they have a sufficient buffer to absorb potential losses, particularly during economic downturns or financial crises. The capital requirements are usually expressed as a percentage of a bank’s risk-weighted assets.

The key capital types that are allowed under Basel III are divided into two main tiers: Tier 1 which is the highest quality capital and includes common equity, retained earnings and other comprehensive income, in addition to Tier 2, other instruments with specific loss-absorption features.
Within the banks’ capital adequacy calculations under the Basel III framework, another significant ratio that banks need to comply with is the regulatory Tier 1 capital, which should be maintained at a minimum 6 percent of RWA to safeguard their financial strength.
In the context of Saudi banks, this regulatory Tier 1 capital reached 16 percent of their RWA, indicating a robust position that comfortably surpasses the Basel III requirement for a minimum Tier 1 capital of 6 percent.
Furthermore, this capital encompasses the capital conservation buffer – a supplementary measure under Basel III intended to absorb losses during economic stress, fixed at 2.5 percent of total risk-weighted assets.
The primary purpose of the capital conservation buffer is to build an additional layer of capital that banks can draw upon in times of financial difficulty.
It aims to promote the conservation of capital and prevent banks from depleting their capital levels to a point where they may be at risk of financial distress.
Importantly, this buffer must be fulfilled using Common Equity Tier 1 exclusively, and it is positioned above the regulatory minimum capital requirement of 8 percent. This elevates the overall required minimum ratio to 10.5 percent.

FASTFACT

In a February 2023 report, Fitch Ratings highlighted that Saudi Arabia, along with Australia, Canada, Indonesia, and South Korea, was among the few jurisdictions that successfully met the globally agreed official Basel IV implementation date in January 2023.

If the minimum buffer requirements are breached, capital distribution constraints will be imposed on the bank.
Tier 1 capital is categorized as going concern, signifying its immediate capacity to absorb losses as soon as they arise. On the other hand, Tier 2, the second type of capital considered in calculating the bank’s capital adequacy ratio, encompasses supplementary capital and operates as a gone concern, absorbing losses before affecting depositors and general creditors.
Total available regulatory capital is the sum of these two elements - Tier 1 and Tier 2. Both categories have distinct criteria that capital instruments must meet before being considered. Banks must adhere to specified minimum levels of Common Equity Tier 1, Tier 1, and total capital, with each level expressed as a percentage of risk-weighted assets.
The Basel IV proposals seek to restore credibility in the calculation of risk-weighted assets and improve the comparability of banks’ capital ratios.
Fitch Ratings said this move is expected to benefit banks with significant exposures to residential and commercial mortgage loans, as well as high-quality project finance in Saudi Arabia. The capital ratios of these banks are expected to improve, thanks to more detailed risk-weightings that are generally lower than those observed under the previous regime.
However, according to the agency, banks involved in land acquisition, construction, development, financial guarantees and equities will face increased capital requirements.
Retail-focused banks are set to benefit from improved capital ratios with lower risk-weightings, particularly in residential mortgage loans. SAMA’s cap on the loan-to-value ratio at 90 percent will lead to reduced risk-weights, ranging from 20 percent to 40 percent, from 50 percent previously.
The overall capital ratio for the Saudi banking sector will remain mostly unchanged as indicated by a parallel run conducted by SAMA in 2022.


Oil Update — prices rise on China growth, Middle East tensions 

Oil Update — prices rise on China growth, Middle East tensions 
Updated 5 sec ago
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Oil Update — prices rise on China growth, Middle East tensions 

Oil Update — prices rise on China growth, Middle East tensions 

SINGAPORE: Oil prices rose on Tuesday after data showed China's economy grew faster than expected, while heightened tensions in the Middle East also kept markets on edge after Israel said it would respond to Iran’s weekend missile and drone attack, according to Reuters. 

Brent futures for June delivery rose 20 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $90.30 a barrel by 10:57 a.m. Saudi time. US crude futures for May delivery rose 21 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $85.62 a barrel. 

Earlier in the day oil prices had risen nearly 1 percent following the release of official data from China showing gross domestic product in the world’s biggest oil importer grew 5.3 percent in the first quarter, year-on-year, comfortably beating analysts’ expectations. 

However, both benchmarks pared some gains as a raft of other Chinese indicators including real estate investment, retail sales and industrial output showed demand remained weak in the face of a protracted property crisis. 

Oil prices soared last week to the highest levels since October, but fell on Monday after Iran’s weekend attack on Israel proved to be less damaging than anticipated, easing concerns of a quickly intensifying conflict that could displace crude barrels. 

“Israel’s response will determine whether the escalation ends or continues. The conflict could still be contained to Israel, Iran and its proxies, with possible involvement of the US,” analysts at ANZ Research said in a note on Tuesday. 

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday summoned his war cabinet for the second time in less than 24 hours to weigh how to react to Iran’s first-ever direct attack on Israel. 

Iran produces more than 3 million barrels per day of crude oil as a major producer within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries. 


World Bank raises Saudi Arabia’s 2025 GDP growth forecast to 5.9%

World Bank raises Saudi Arabia’s 2025 GDP growth forecast to 5.9%
Updated 15 April 2024
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World Bank raises Saudi Arabia’s 2025 GDP growth forecast to 5.9%

World Bank raises Saudi Arabia’s 2025 GDP growth forecast to 5.9%

RIYADH: The World Bank has raised its expectations for Saudi Arabia’s economic growth to 5.9 percent in 2025 from 4.2 percent predicted earlier in January.

In its latest report the bank, however, revised its 2024 forecast for the Kingdom’s gross domestic product growth downward to 2.5 percent from an earlier forecast of 4.1 percent.

Concurrently, the overall GDP growth forecast for Gulf Cooperation Council countries in 2024 has been reduced to 2.8 percent, down from 3.6 percent, while the 2025 forecast has been revised to 4.7 percent from 3.8 percent.  

The report also adjusted the UAE’s GDP growth forecast to 3.9 percent for 2024, up from the previously projected 3.7 percent, with a further rise to 4.1 percent in 2025, from 3.8 percent. 

Kuwait’s economy is expected to expand by 2.8 percent in 2024 and increase further to 3.1 percent in 2025.  

Similarly, Bahrain’s economy is likely to grow by 3.5 percent in 2024 and 3.3 percent in 2025, marking an increase from January’s projections. 

Meanwhile, Qatar’s economy saw a downward revision for its 2024 forecast from 2.5 percent to 2.1 percent but an upward revision for 2025 from 3.1 percent to 3.2 percent. 

Oman’s economy projections for 2024 and 2025 saw a marginal increase of 0.1 percent since the January forecast. 

This adjustment reflects the broader economic trends where the surge in oil prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 bolstered oil-exporting economies in the Middle East and North Africa.  

In contrast, economic growth in non-oil-exporting nations — including MENA oil importers like Djibouti, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, and the West Bank and Gaza — has slowed. 

By 2024, the growth disparity between GCC oil exporters and developing oil importers is expected to narrow to just 0.9 percentage points, marking a significant shift from 2022 when GCC countries grew 5.6 percentage points faster, the report stated.  

“Developing oil exporters will grow 2.8 percent in 2024, down from 3.1 percent in 2023 while growth in developing oil importers is forecasted to decrease to 2.5 percent in 2024, down from 3.1 percent in 2023,” the report stated. 

Overall, the MENA region is expected to achieve a growth rate of 2.7 percent in 2024, which aligns with pre-COVID levels but still trails the global average.  

While other emerging markets and developing economies are also projected to remain below pre-pandemic growth rates, they are expected to surpass the MENA region by 1.2 percentage points in 2024.  


GCC oil companies’ capex to grow by 5% to reach $115bn in 2024

GCC oil companies’ capex to grow by 5% to reach $115bn in 2024
Updated 15 April 2024
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GCC oil companies’ capex to grow by 5% to reach $115bn in 2024

GCC oil companies’ capex to grow by 5% to reach $115bn in 2024

RIYADH: The capital expenditures of national oil companies in the Gulf Cooperation Council are likely to grow by 5 percent in 2024 as compared to the previous year and are expected to reach $115 billion, according to a report.

The analysis by S&P’s Global Ratings, however, does not take into account the potential surge in spending from recent expansion plans such as the North Field West Project in Qatar, which it said could significantly boost expenditures.

The report highlighted that while the growth in capital expenditure is modest, Saudi Arabia’s planned output cuts in line with the current policy of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and its allies, known as OPEC+, is likely to decrease demand for drilling platforms, operating ratios, average daily production rates, and profitability among regional drilling companies, especially in the Kingdom.

“We stress-tested the effect of a hypothetical 15-20 percent loss of total rig demand in the region on GCC drillers, and we estimate that the debt to EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation, and Amortization) of rated and publicly listed drillers based in GCC countries could increase by about 1x on average,” S&P Global Ratings Credit analyst Rawan Oueidat said.

“At this point, we think that drillers’ rating headroom could shrink, but we don’t expect any short-term rating pressure,” Oueidat added.

The agency also raised concerns about the future of capital expenditure in other oil and gas-producing countries of the GCC, following Saudi Aramco’s decision to suspend its plan to increase the Kingdom’s maximum production capacity.

Despite these concerns, the total oil capital expenditure in the region is expected to remain relatively high due to the ongoing expansion plans in Qatar and the UAE.

However, the pace and magnitude of spending are expected to impact oilfield service companies and the entire value chain, particularly drilling companies whose business models heavily rely on corporate capital expenditures.

The UAE’s Abu Dhabi National Oil Co. is set to increase its oil production capacity to 5 million barrels per day by 2027, up from 4 million bpd as of February 2024, according to the US Energy Information Administration.

Meanwhile, Qatar is aiming to boost its liquefied natural gas production capacity to 142 million tonnes annually by 2030 from the current output of 77 million tonnes.

The report predicted oil prices to average $85 per barrel for the remainder of 2024 and $80 per barrel the following year.

It also suggested that geopolitical tensions and planned production cuts by OPEC+ will support prices and enhance the cash flows of oil companies across the Gulf region.


Saudi housing program Sakani benefits over 32,000 families in Q1

Saudi housing program Sakani benefits over 32,000 families in Q1
Updated 15 April 2024
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Saudi housing program Sakani benefits over 32,000 families in Q1

Saudi housing program Sakani benefits over 32,000 families in Q1

RIYADH: As many as 32,343 Saudi families benefitted from Sakani’s housing options during the first quarter of 2024, marking an annual 15 percent increase.

In collaboration with the Real Estate Development Fund and financial institutions, the program provides a variety of housing support packages to encourage first-time house buyers, including non-refundable financial assistance of SR100,000 ($26,659) or SR150,000.

The number of the Kingdom’s households that purchased their first homes reached 25,391 in the first three months of the year, reflecting the objective of Sakani to offer a variety of residential options and financial solutions.

Founded in 2017 by the Saudi Ministry of Housing and the Real Estate Development Fund, the program aims to increase the proportion of families that own a home in the Kingdom to 70 percent by 2030, in line with the economic diversification strategy Vision 2030.

Figures from Sakani showed that the number of beneficiary households reached 12,184 in March, with 9,381 Saudi families obtaining their first residence.

In January, Sakani announced that more than 100,000 Saudi families benefited from the initiative in 2023, while the number of applicants who obtained their first home over that 12 month period reaching 98,475.

The core objectives of the Sakani initiative are to enable homeownership in the Kingdom by creating new housing stock, assigning plots and properties to citizens, and providing financing for their purchases.

The Sakani website and application provide a wide range of housing facilities and services, such as real estate consultancy, issuance of real estate transaction tax certificates and a display of financing institution rates.

It also provides electronic financing and the disbursement of land contracts, engineering design services, access to certified contractors, and additional services.


Qatar inflation dips 1.4% in March: official data

Qatar inflation dips 1.4% in March: official data
Updated 15 April 2024
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Qatar inflation dips 1.4% in March: official data

Qatar inflation dips 1.4% in March: official data

RIYADH: A fall in food and beverage prices helped drive Qatar’s inflation down 1.4 percent in March as compared to the previous month, official data showed.

According to a report released by the country’s Planning and Statistics Authority, the consumer price index reached 106.67 points in March.

Compared to February, expenses for food and beverages slid by 4.74 percent in March. Prices for recreation and culture witnessed a decline of 5.58 percent during the same period. 

Similarly, costs for restaurant and hotels, as well as furniture and household equipment, decreased by 1.92 percent and 0.34 percent, respectively, in March compared to the previous month. 

On the other hand, prices for clothing and footwear increased by 1.88 percent, followed by expenses for transport, which went up by 0.23 percent. 

Cost of healthcare and communication remain unchanged in March, data showed.

However, the Gulf country’s annual consumer price index edge up by 0.98 percent in March compared to the same month of the previous year.

The year-on-year surge in prices was driven by recreation and culture (8.48 percent), communication (3.84 percent), education (3.48 percent), food and beverages  (2.73 percent), furniture and household equipment (1.28 percent), and miscellaneous goods and services (0.83 percent).

A year-on-year decrease has been recorded in the prices of  clothing and footwear, followed by housing, water, electricity and other fuel. 

Qatar’s economy is expected to stabilize in the near future after experiencing a surge in 2022 due to hosting the FIFA World Cup, according to the IMF.  

The Washington-based lender has forecasted a 1.9 percent growth in the country’s gross domestic product for 2024. 

Highlighting Qatar’s resilience to recent global disturbances, the IMF stated that the country’s economic prospects are promising. 

Furthermore, it noted that the Hamas-Israel conflict has not had any discernible impact on Qatar. 

“Risks are broadly balanced. Maintaining prudent macroeconomic policy and intensifying reform efforts will support Qatar’s resilience to shocks and accelerate its economic transformation,” the IMF said.