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Rating Action:

Moody's assigns first-time ratings to Bank Nizwa SAOG

08 Jun 2017

Local and foreign currency deposit ratings of Baa3 with stable outlook

Limassol, June 08, 2017 -- Moody's Investors Service, ("Moody's") has assigned the following first time ratings to Bank Nizwa SAOG (Bank Nizwa): Baa3/Prime-3 long and short term local- and foreign-currency deposit ratings, b1 baseline credit assessment (BCA) and a b1 adjusted BCA. The long-term deposit ratings carry a stable outlook. Furthermore, Moody's has assigned a Counterparty Risk Assessment (CR Assessment) of Baa2(cr)/ Prime-2(cr).

Bank Nizwa's b1 BCA reflects the bank's high capital buffers, moderated by its rapid growth over the recent years, low profitability reflecting a nascent franchise, concentrated funding profile, limited liquid resources and its evolving risk management framework.

The bank's Baa3 long-term deposit ratings reflect its b1 BCA and Moody's assessment of a `very high' probability of government support in case of need. This reflects the Government of Oman's 11.9% indirect ownership stake (top 2 government related shareholders) and the Oman authorities' historical support to banks in case of need.

Bank Nizwa, established in 2013, was the first full-fledged Islamic bank to be established in Oman following the introduction of the Islamic Banking Regulatory Framework in 2012. It has a market share of 1.7% in terms of total assets as of year-end 2016. The bank provides shari'ah compliant products and services to corporates and individuals in Oman. As of year-end 2016, 95% of the bank's credit risk exposures were located in Oman. Bank Nizwa had total assets of USD1.3 billion as of year-end 2016.

A list of ratings is provided at the end of this press release.

RATINGS RATIONALE

STANDALONE BCA

-- RAPID GROWTH AND CREDIT CONCENTRATIONS MODERATE THE STRONG ASSET QUALITY

Moody's expects Bank Nizwa's loan performance to remain strong, despite weakening over the medium term owing to the book seasoning and a slowdown in economic growth amid oil prices weakness. Increased government borrowing and higher hydrocarbon output will limit the decline in public spending, but we expect potential payment delays from government related entities to affect contractors and SMEs, while private retail borrowers face lower employment security and disposable income reduction.

The bank's rapid financing growth over the recent years - as it builds its franchise - constrains its asset quality. In addition, Bank Nizwa's borrower and sector concentrations, which reflect both its young operations and the country's limited economic diversification, pose risks to the asset quality.

As of December 2016, the bank's problem financings to gross financings ratio stood at 0.03% (0.05% as of YE 2015), which compares favourably with the 2.1% local average.

-- HIGH CAPITALISATION PROVIDES BUFFER TO ABSORB LOSSES

According to Moody's, Bank Nizwa's capitalisation will remain above the management minimum target of 15% capital adequacy ratio over 2017-18, despite declining noticeably owing to the bank's rapid growth trajectory. As of March 2017, the bank reported a tangible common equity to RWAs ratio of 20.8% (23.1% as of YE 2016), which compares favourably with the 13.7% system average.

-- LOW PROFITABILITY REFLECTS THE NASCENT AND GROWING ISLAMIC FRANCHISE

Moody's expects the bank's profitability to remain low through 2017, below local and global peers. High funding cost in a tight liquidity environment, combined with elevated operating expense and general provisioning requirement as the bank scales its balance sheet and operations, will continue to consume a large proportion of its income. The solid financings growth, expected at above 30% in 2017, will help balance the aforementioned charges.

Bank Nizwa's rapid growth will reflect the increasing penetration of shari'ah compliant assets in Oman. However, the bank will continue to face significant competition from the Islamic units (Islamic "windows") of established conventional banks, which benefit from part of their parents' franchise, expertise and infrastructure.

-- CONCENTRATED FUNDING PROFILE IN A TIGHT FUNDING ENVIRONMENT

Moody's expects Bank Nizwa's market funding reliance to remain modest, but increase somewhat to support its rapid growth, as lower government revenues and corporate profits reduce the flow of deposits to the banking sector. While the bank will remain primarily deposit funded (91% of non-equity funding in 2016), its concentrated funding profile - with a high reliance on government related deposits - exposes it to potential funding volatility in a context of pressured government finances.

However, 100% of the bank's deposits (68% of the balance sheet) at year-end 2016 were sourced from Omani counterparties, which tend to be more stable than foreign investors. In addition, 51% of the bank's deposits had a residual maturity of more than twelve months as of year-end 2016.

As of March 2017, the bank's market funds to tangible banking assets ratio stood at a modest 3.9% (4.5% as of YE 2016).

-- LIMITED LIQUID RESOURCES PROVIDES LIMITED BUFFER IN A TIGHT FUNDING ENVIRONMENT

Moody's expects Bank Nizwa to maintain limited liquid resources, given its rapid growth trajectory and the tight funding conditions in Oman. The slower deposit growth combined with the domestic government borrowing will continue to pressure the banking system liquidity, although the higher bond issuances from the government on the international debt markets will ease the pressure somewhat.

As of March 2017, the bank's liquid banking assets to tangible banking assets ratio stood at 14.5% (16.6% as of YE 2016), which is noticeably lower than the 22% local average. The bank's net loans to deposits ratio stood at 113% in 2016. As of December 2016, the bank recorded a 132% LCR (80% regulatory minimum from January 2017).

-- RAPID GROWTH AND EVOLVING RISK MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK

Bank Nizwa's significant growth trajectory combined with an evolving risk management and control framework constrain its credit profile, as it increases the bank's exposure to adverse developments. Specifically, in the context of substantial growth plans, the bank's developing risk management systems and processes create uncertainty about the evolution of its risk profile. The conservative regulatory framework in Oman, however, partly moderates these concerns.

LONG-TERM DEPOSIT RATINGS

-- GOVERNMENT OWNERSHIP AND TRACK RECORD SUPPORTS MOODY'S VIEW THAT BANK NIZWA HAS A `VERY HIGH' LIKELIHOOD OF RECEIVING GOVERNMENT SUPPORT IN CASE OF NEED

Bank Nizwa's Baa3 deposit rating incorporates a `very high' probability of government support in case of need that translates into a four-notch uplift from its b1 BCA. This assessment reflects the Omani government's 11.9% indirect ownership stake into the bank (top 2 government related shareholders) through the Civil Pension Fund (6.9%) and the Diwan of Royal Court Pension Fund (5.0%). It also reflects the large government related deposit balances in the bank (45% of the bank's total deposit base as of December 2016) and the Omani authorities' strong track record of supporting banks, including Bank Nizwa.

-- COUNTERPARTY RISK ASSESSMENT

CR Assessments are opinions of how counterparty obligations are likely to be treated if a bank fails and are distinct from debt and deposit ratings in that they (1) consider only the risk of default rather than both the likelihood of default and the expected financial loss suffered in the event of default and (2) apply to counterparty obligations and contractual commitments rather than debt or deposit instruments. The CR assessment is an opinion of the counterparty risk related to a bank's covered bonds, contractual performance obligations (servicing), derivatives (e.g., swaps), letters of credit, guarantees and liquidity facilities.

The CR Assessment is positioned at Baa2(cr). The CR Assessment, prior to government support, is positioned one notch above the Adjusted BCA of b1 and therefore above deposit ratings, reflecting Moody's view that its probability of default is lower than that of deposits. Moody's believes senior obligations represented by the CRA will be more likely preserved in order to limit contagion, minimize losses and avoid disruption of critical functions.

The CR Assessment also benefits from four notches of systemic support, in line with Moody's support assumptions on deposits. This reflects Moody's view that any support provided by governmental authorities to a bank which benefits senior unsecured debt or deposits is very likely to benefit operating activities and obligations reflected by the CR Assessment as well, consistent with Moody's belief that governments are likely to maintain such operations as a going-concern in order to reduce contagion and preserve a bank's critical functions.

WHAT COULD MOVE THE RATING -- UP/DOWN

Upward pressure on the bank's ratings could develop from (1) a significant reduction in borrower and deposit concentrations; and/or (2) a material reduction in the unseasoned proportion of the financing portfolio and/or (3) a material and sustainable increase in the profitability; and/or (3) a significant increase in the bank's liquid resources.

Downward pressure on the bank's ratings could develop from (1) a change in the government support assumptions in terms of capacity and/or willingness, which could result from a downgrade of Oman government rating; and/or (2) a significant deterioration in asset quality; and/or (3) a material weakening in capital buffers.

RATINGS OUTLOOK

The stable outlook reflects Moody's expectation that Bank Nizwa's high capitalisation and government support balances the risks from its rapid growth, low profitability, concentrated funding profile, limited liquid resources and evolving risk management framework.

LIST OF ASSIGNED RATINGS

Issuer: Bank Nizwa SAOG

Assignments:

....LT Bank Deposits (Local & Foreign Currency), Assigned Baa3, Outlook Assigned Stable

....ST Bank Deposits (Local & Foreign Currency), Assigned P-3

....Adjusted Baseline Credit Assessment, Assigned b1

....Baseline Credit Assessment, Assigned b1

....LT Counterparty Risk Assessment, Assigned Baa2(cr)

....ST Counterparty Risk Assessment, Assigned P-2(cr)

Outlook Actions:

....Outlook, Assigned Stable

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGY

The principal methodology used in these ratings was Banks published in January 2016. Please see the Rating Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of this methodology.

The Local Market analyst for this rating is Mik Kabeya, 971.4.237.9590.

REGULATORY DISCLOSURES

For ratings issued on a program, series or category/class of debt, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to each rating of a subsequently issued bond or note of the same series or category/class of debt or pursuant to a program for which the ratings are derived exclusively from existing ratings in accordance with Moody's rating practices. For ratings issued on a support provider, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the credit rating action on the support provider and in relation to each particular credit rating action for securities that derive their credit ratings from the support provider's credit rating. For provisional ratings, this announcement provides certain regulatory disclosures in relation to the provisional rating assigned, and in relation to a definitive rating that may be assigned subsequent to the final issuance of the debt, in each case where the transaction structure and terms have not changed prior to the assignment of the definitive rating in a manner that would have affected the rating. For further information please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page for the respective issuer on www.moodys.com.

For any affected securities or rated entities receiving direct credit support from the primary entity(ies) of this credit rating action, and whose ratings may change as a result of this credit rating action, the associated regulatory disclosures will be those of the guarantor entity. Exceptions to this approach exist for the following disclosures, if applicable to jurisdiction: Ancillary Services, Disclosure to rated entity, Disclosure from rated entity.

Regulatory disclosures contained in this press release apply to the credit rating and, if applicable, the related rating outlook or rating review.

Please see www.moodys.com for any updates on changes to the lead rating analyst and to the Moody's legal entity that has issued the rating.

Please see the ratings tab on the issuer/entity page on www.moodys.com for additional regulatory disclosures for each credit rating.

Christos Theofilou, CFA
Asst Vice President - Analyst
Financial Institutions Group
Moody's Investors Service Cyprus Ltd.
Porto Bello Building
1, Siafi Street, 3042 Limassol
PO Box 53205
Limassol CY 3301
Cyprus
JOURNALISTS: 852 3758 1350
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Sean Marion
MD - Financial Institutions
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

Releasing Office:
Moody's Investors Service Cyprus Ltd.
Porto Bello Building
1, Siafi Street, 3042 Limassol
PO Box 53205
Limassol CY 3301
Cyprus
JOURNALISTS: 852 3758 1350
Client Service: 44 20 7772 5454

No Related Data.
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