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22 Feb 2008
Moody's affirms ratings on Gulf Investment Corporation (Kuwait)
Limassol, February 22, 2008 -- Moody's Investors Service has today affirmed Gulf Investment Corporation's
(GIC) D+ financial strength rating (FSR), which maps to a Baseline
Credit Assessment of 10 (on a scale of 1 to 21, where 1 reflects
the lowest level of risk). At the same time, Moody's
affirms the company's A2/Prime-1 long- and short-term
deposit and A2 senior unsecured debt ratings. The outlook on all
ratings remains stable.
On 21 February, GIC announced a USD253 million profit for 2007.
The results included USD105 million of extraordinary and non-recurring
income arising from the sale of the residual (and previously written-off)
Iraqi debt held by GIC, and following USD246 million in provisions
made primarily against impairments in the value of the company's
investments in SIVs and structured credits.
Moody's has been monitoring GIC's total exposure to asset
classes, such as structured products, and investment in SIVs,
that were affected by the subprime-related market turmoil.
During December 2007, the company redeemed part of its SIV exposure
(amounting to around USD102 million), receiving cash against part
of the cost of its investment, while committing to the purchase
of a vertical slice of the SIVs' assets at market prices.
This caused the company's portfolio of structured assets to more
However, the quality of the acquired portfolio appears to be good:
it includes highly-rated financial institution bonds, CLOs
and CDOs of corporate bonds, although it also includes some riskier
assets. In addition, given that these assets were acquired
at December market prices, the riskier ones had already been significantly
discounted, Moody's notes.
Moody's said that if pressure in the credit markets persists,
GIC would likely need to record additional provisions against its portfolio
of structured assets, impacting 2008 profitability for a second
successive year. However, large-scale write downs
of a level capable of impacting GIC's capitalisation are not currently
anticipated, particularly given that the company has a comfortable
capital cushion, with Tier 1 capital at year-end 2007 standing
at an exceptional 20%. Consequently, Moody's
considers GIC's D+ financial strength rating as adequately
capturing the current risks.
However, Moody's notes that the magnitude of the portfolio
of SIV assets purchased --compared to GIC's size -- is
very high and that a single action impacted the composition of over 10%
of the company's balance sheet. Although the acquired portfolio
is in part comprised of good quality (non-structured) financial
institution bonds, GIC's action has increased exposure to
structured assets (albeit currently of good quality) at a time when the
market is still fluid. Regardless of whether GIC benefits from
its aforementioned decision or is compelled to record additional provisions,
this suggests a shift in risk appetite. Consequently, Moody's
will continue to monitor developments at GIC.
Headquartered in Kuwait City, GIC reported total assets of USD9.148
billion as of year-end 2007.
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