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21 Jul 2010
Limassol, July 21, 2010 -- The outlook for the Omani banking system remains stable, reflecting
its remoteness from and relative resilience to the recent global economic
turmoil, says Moody's Investors Service in its new Banking System
Outlook on Oman. The stable outlook also incorporates the challenges
faced by the banks to expand their franchise and maintain good credit
quality metrics in a small, narrow and highly concentrated market.
The global financial crisis posed minimal risks for the performance and
ratings of Omani banks, as Oman is an introverted market and local
banks have little exposure to western markets. The Omani economy
remained resilient throughout the downturn and is likely to experience
growth in 2010, which the rating agency believes will improve the
Omani banks' operating conditions.
"For 2010, Moody's expects systemic credit expansion
to gradually increase to between 10%-15%, although
it will likely remain below the pre-crisis level of 40%.
The resumption in loan growth will be driven by increased government spending,
which was largely concentrated on the hydrocarbon sector in 2009,
but also focused on the non-oil sector of the economy as part of
the government's measures to diversify the economy,"
explains Elena Panayiotou, author of the report.
Direct government intervention was not needed in Oman during the global
crisis. However the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) has demonstrated
its support through intervention to encourage lending in Oman and provide
dollar liquidity to the banks. This mitigated the impact of the
global economic downturn and helped the banks to maintain relatively robust
financial fundaments. Moody's therefore believes that Omani
banks will continue to enjoy strong capital levels and a high loss-absorption
capacity, which is a key factor supporting their BFSRs. In
addition, the government's proven track record of support
towards Omani banks reinforces Moody's assumption of a high probability
of support, and provides an uplift to the deposit ratings of those
"We believe that the banks' domestic liquidity will remain
adequate and that their access to foreign-currency funding at lower
costs will resume in line with the improved conditions in the international
capital markets. Going forward, the banks are likely to move
away from the foreign-currency funding facility provided by the
CBO as part of a US$2 billion dollar liquidity facility,
which it established towards the end of 2008 to provide banks with foreign-currency
funds," adds Ms. Panayiotou.
Despite these positive developments, Omani banks are highly concentrated
in their local market, which remains vulnerable to the performance
of the hydrocarbon sector. In addition, contagion risk is
high because there is considerable interlinkage between wealthy families,
the banking system and the government. "In Oman, the
risk of a contagion effect resulting from corporate default is high for
all banks. This is because the country's wealth is concentrated
in a handful of individual groups that have exposures to almost all the
large banks in the country, due to the single-borrower limits
"For 2010-2011, we expect that good macroeconomic growth
will create beneficial operating conditions for Omani banks, and
that the government will accelerate its financial support, primarily
for infrastructure projects. However, banks' interest-rate
margins could remain pressured by intense and concentrated competition,
while sizeable lending and funding concentrations will raise the banks'
risk profiles," concludes Ms. Panayiotou.
Moody's report, entitled "Banking System Outlook: Oman",
is available on www.moodys.com
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Cyprus Limited
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Cyprus Limited
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454
Moody's: Continued Stable outlook for the Omani banking system
No Related Data.
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