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Rating Action:

Moody's takes rating actions on 26 GCC banks

07 Mar 2016

Actions on GCC banks follow global review of oil-exporting sovereigns

Note: On March 11, 2016, the press release was corrected as follows: The National Bank of Bahrain BSC was added to the debt list under “The long-term ratings and/or Counterparty Risk Assessments of the following entities (and their funding subsidiaries) were placed on review for downgrade.” Revised release follows.

Limassol, March 07, 2016 -- Moody's Investors Service (Moody's) has taken rating actions on 26 banks located in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), where persistently low oil prices have triggered a combination of: (1) fiscal pressure on their governments, signaling a potential reduction of government capacity and willingness to support the banks in case of need; and (2) weakening operating conditions for the banks. Today's rating action on the banks was triggered by the weakening of their respective government's credit profiles, as reflected by Moody's review for downgrade of governments of Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates (UAE) taken on March 4, 2016.

Of the 26 GCC banks affected, the long-term ratings and/or the Counterparty Risk Assessments of 25 banks domiciled in Bahrain (five banks), Kuwait (two), Qatar (two), Saudi Arabia (11) and UAE (five) were placed under review for downgrade, while the long-term ratings of one other Bahraini bank were affirmed and assigned a negative outlook.

The review for downgrade on the long-term supported ratings and/or Counterparty Risk Assessments of the 25 banks is in line with the review for downgrade on their sovereigns, which reflects the potential weakening capacity of these governments to help banks in times of stress, prompting a re-assessment of our high support assumptions incorporated in the GCC banks' ratings.

At the same time, the baseline credit assessments (BCAs) of 15 of these GCC banks have also been placed under review for downgrade to reflect: (1) the broader negative effects of weaker economic activity and consumption, triggered by reductions in public spending, on profitability and asset quality; and (2) the more pressured and costly funding environment driven by the reduced inflows of government-related liquidity. It should be noted that while the broad drivers remain the same across the GCC, the specific impact of these various factors vary according to systems and the bank itself.

For four of the Bahraini banks, certain ratings were also downgraded before being placed on review for further downgrade, triggered by: (1) the Bahraini authorities' weakened fiscal capacity to support the local banks; and (2) foreign currency transfer and convertibility risks, as reflected by the downgrade of the Bahraini sovereign to Ba1 from Baa3, and its placement on review for downgrade on March 4, 2016.

As part of the same rating action, Moody's has affirmed the long-term ratings and BCAs of two Bahraini banks while changing the outlook on their long-term ratings--one to stable from positive, and the other to negative from stable.

Please click on the following link to access the full List of Affected Credit Ratings: http://www.moodys.com/viewresearchdoc.aspx?docid=PBC_188132. This list is an integral part of this Press Release and identifies each affected issuer.

RATINGS RATIONALE

Today's rating action is part of a global review of oil-exporting sovereigns and the banks that operate in these countries. For more information on the scope of the review, please follow this link: [.]

SUPPORT ASSUMPTIONS

A primary driver of today's rating action on the banks is the potential deterioration of the oil-exporting governments' credit worthiness, as signaled by their review for downgrade, which in turn points to: (1) The potential weakening capacity of these governments to provide support to the banks if needed in times of crisis; and (2) the potential for reduced willingness, as governments may become more selective in their provision of such support.

During the review, Moody's will: (1) assess the extent to which these governments' creditworthiness is expected to weaken in light of low oil prices and related economic developments, as indicated by the conclusion of the parallel review for downgrade of the sovereign rating; and (2) assess whether there is any shift in policy towards the support of ailing banks, and more particularly whether there is any possibility that the authorities might become more selective in their allocation of support in the future.

STANDALONE BANK CREDIT PROFILES

The other key driver of today's review for downgrade relates to the risk that prolonged oil prices will weaken the macro environment and overall operating conditions for the banks to a greater extent than currently assumed in the bank ratings.

While the banks have modest direct exposure to the oil sector, we anticipate that the significantly reduced level of government revenues will result in substantially lower government spending, declining corporate investment and softening consumption. These, in turn, pose the risk of second-order negative implications on funding and liquidity as well as asset quality challenges. In systems where the government's fiscal profile is more heavily affected by lower commodity prices, room to mitigate the downside risks by stimulating their domestic economies is more limited and we expect greater deterioration compared to those banks operating in systems where the government has greater fiscal flexibility or where the economy is more diversified and less correlated with the oil and gas industry.

During the review period, Moody's will assess: (1) the direction in which the macro environment and overall operating conditions for the banks will evolve, including whether government counter-cyclical spending policies can be expected to offset some of the economic pressure that will continue to rise from prolonged low oil prices; and, therefore (2) the extent to which the net effect of these developments would be expected to exert pressure on the banks' loan growth, top line income, asset quality, capital retention capacity, funding and liquidity. The review will include stress testing and analysis of the banks' relative rating positioning against their global peers.

RATING DOWNGRADES

For four Bahraini banks, certain ratings were also downgraded before being placed on review for further downgrade. These downgrades capture the authorities' already weakened fiscal capacity to support the local banks in times of stress if needed, as well as foreign currency transfer and convertibility risks, as reflected by the downgrade of the Bahraini sovereign to Ba1 from Baa3, and its placement on review for downgrade on March 4, 2016.

RATING AFFIRMATIONS

The affirmation of the long-term ratings and BCAs of two Bahraini banks reflects the resilience of their ratings to the sovereign downgrade (and ongoing review) and the weakening operating environment. Concurrently, Moody's has changed the outlook of the long-term ratings to signal the pressures in the ratings over the next 12 to 18 months.

WHAT COULD MOVE RATINGS UP OR DOWN

There is limited upside pressure on the GCC bank ratings given the current review for downgrade on both the sovereign and the banks.

For banks placed under review for downgrade because of our re-assessment of government support, the ratings could be downgraded in the event of a downgrade of the sovereign itself and/or if we assess that the government's willingness to provide support in the future will decline below our current assumptions.

For banks whose standalone BCA is placed under review for downgrade, ratings could be downgraded if we anticipate that the deterioration in the macro environment pose downside risks for loan growth, top line income, asset quality, capital retention capacity, funding and liquidity, beyond what is already assumed in the ratings.

For banks operating in the jurisdictions for which a stabilization of the sovereign rating is a prospective outcome, a stabilization of their ratings is also a possibility.

THE LIST OF AFFECTED RATINGS:

The long-term ratings and/or Counterparty Risk Assessments of the following entities (and their funding subsidiaries) were placed on review for downgrade:

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank

Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank

Al Hilal Bank PJSC

Al Rajhi Bank

Arab National Bank

Bahrain Development Bank B.S.C

Bank AlBilad

Bank Al-Jazira

Banque Saudi Fransi

BBK B.S.C.

Gulf International Bank BSC

Kuwait Finance House K.S.C.P.

National Bank of Abu Dhabi

The National Bank of Bahrain BSC

National Bank of Kuwait S.A.K.P

National Commercial Bank

Qatar National Bank

Riyad Bank

Samba Financial Group

Saudi British Bank

Saudi Hollandi Bank

Saudi Investment Bank

The Commercial Bank (Q.S.C.)

Union National Bank PJSC

The Long-Term Counterparty Risk Assessment of the following entity was placed on review for downgrade:

Bahrain Islamic Bank

The BCAs or standalone credit profiles of the following entities were also placed on review for downgrade:

Al Rajhi Bank

Arab National Bank

Bank AlBilad

Bank Al-Jazira

Banque Saudi Fransi

BBK B.S.C.

Gulf International Bank BSC

National Bank of Bahrain BSC

National Commercial Bank

Riyad Bank

Samba Financial Group

Saudi British Bank

Saudi Hollandi Bank

Saudi Investment Bank

The Commercial Bank (Q.S.C.)

The long-term ratings and/or the Counterparty Risk Assessment of the following entities were also downgraded due to lower support and/or lower ceilings:

BBK B.S.C.

National Bank of Bahrain BSC

Bahrain Development Bank B.S.C

Gulf International Bank BSC

The long-term foreign currency deposit ratings of the following entity was also downgraded due to lower ceilings:

Gulf International Bank BSC

The long-term ratings and BCAs of the following entities were affirmed, with a change in outlook:

Bahrain Islamic Bank

Arab Banking Corporation B.S.C.

PRINCIPAL METHODOLOGIES

The principal methodology used in rating Al Rajhi Bank, Arab National Bank, Bank Al-Jazira, Bank AlBilad, Banque Saudi Fransi, National Commercial Bank, Riyad Bank, Samba Financial Group, Saudi British Bank, Saudi Hollandi Bank, Saudi Investment Bank, Arab Banking Corporation B.S.C., Gulf International Bank BSC, BBK B.S.C., National Bank of Bahrain BSC, Kuwait Finance House K.S.C.P., National Bank of Kuwait S.A.K.P, Qatar National Bank, QNB Finance Ltd, The Commercial Bank (Q.S.C.), CBQ Finance Limited, Union National Bank PJSC, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong Branch, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, London Branch, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, ADCB Finance (Cayman) Limited, ADCB ISLAMIC FINANCE (CAYMAN) LIMITED, Al Hilal Bank PJSC, AHB Sukuk Company Ltd., Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, ADIB Sukuk Company Ltd. and Bahrain Islamic Bank was Banks published in January 2016.

The principal methodologies used in rating Bahrain Development Bank B.S.C were Banks published in January 2016, and Government-Related Issuers published in October 2014.

Please see the Ratings Methodologies page on www.moodys.com for a copy of these methodologies.

The local market analyst for Al Rajhi Bank, Bank Al-Jazira, Bank AlBilad, Kuwait Finance House K.S.C.P., National Bank of Abu Dhabi, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong Branch, National Bank of Abu Dhabi, London Branch, Al Hilal Bank PJSC, AHB Sukuk Company Ltd., Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank, ADIB Sukuk Company Ltd. and Bahrain Islamic Bank ratings is Nitish Bhojnagarwala, AVP-Analyst, Financial Institutions, JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456,SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454.

The local market analyst for Banque Saudi Fransi, Riyad Bank, Saudi British Bank, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, ADCB Finance (Cayman) Limited and ADCB ISLAMIC FINANCE (CAYMAN) LIMITED ratings is Olivier Panis, VP-Senior Credit Officer, Financial Institutions, JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456,SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454.

The local market analyst for Union National Bank PJSC ratings is Mik Kabeya, Analyst, Financial Institutions, JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456, SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454.

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.

The ratings of rated entities Riyad Bank, National Commercial Bank and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank were not initiated or not maintained at the request of these rated entities.

Moody's considers a rated entity or its agent(s) to be participating when it maintains an overall relationship with Moody's. On this basis, Riyad Bank, National Commercial Bank and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank or their agents are considered to be non-participating entities. These rated entities or their agents generally do not provide Moody's with information for the purposes of their ratings process.

Moody's considers a rated entity or its agent(s) to be participating when it maintains an overall relationship with Moody's. On this basis National Bank of Bahrain BSC and Saudi British Bank or their agents are considered to be participating entities. These rated entities or their agents generally provide Moody's with information for their ratings process.

The relevant office for each credit rating is identified in "Debt/deal box" on the Ratings tab in the Debt/Deal List section of each issuer/entity page of the Website.

The below contact information is provided for information purposes only. Please see the ratings tab of the issuer page at www.moodys.com, for each of the ratings covered, Moody's disclosures on the lead analyst and the Moody's legal entity that has issued the ratings.

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: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Sean Marion
Managing Director
Financial Institutions Group
JOURNALISTS: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 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: 44 20 7772 5456
SUBSCRIBERS: 44 20 7772 5454

Moody's takes rating actions on 26 GCC banks
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