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KUWAIT CITY, Feb 29: Moody’s Investors Service has affirmed National Bank of Kuwait’s (NBK) long-term global local currency (GLC) deposit rating at Aa3, the highest in the Middle East and North Africa, with a stable outlook.
In its latest credit opinion report, Moody’s assigned a Counterparty Risk Assessment (CR Assessment) of Aa2 (cr)/Prime-1(cr) to NBK.
Moody’s said that NBK’s ratings reflect its dominant position in the domestic market that underpins its resilient core profitability; and robust financial fundamentals including consistently good asset quality metrics and strong capitalisation and liquidity.
Moody’s stressed that NBK is in a preferential position to exploit larger credit opportunities compared to its domestic peers. The agency expects that as the government’s development plan begins to gain traction, with more infrastructure projects being tendered than in previous years, NBK will be able to take advantage of new business opportunities.
Moody’s said that NBK is Kuwait’s largest financial institution, with a market share of 33 percent of consolidated system assets, underpinning its price-setting and income generating capacity. NBK is also a leader in trade finance and one of the few local banks with the capacity to structure and underwrite large capital market transactions. Furthermore, NBK has historically acted as lead-financer for the majority of public contracts awarded to foreign companies.
Moody’s added that NBK’s core profitability will remain robust despite tighter margins. NBK has a stable deposit base and would benefit from “flight to quality” in the event of non-intrinsic systemic problems.
Moody’s noted that NBK has consistently performed better than local peers. NBK’s non-performing loans (NPLs)-to-gross loans ratio fell to 1.3 percent at year-end 2015 and remained below the average for the conventional Kuwaiti banks.
Moody’s stated that NBK’s capital adequacy ratio (CAR) is well above the regulatory requirements. During 2015, NBK boosted its capital base through issuing USD 700 million Additional Tier-1 (AT-1) securities and KD 125 million of Tier 2 subordinated bonds. The issuances are used to improve NBK’s capital as per Basel III requirements and the directives of the Central Bank of Kuwait.
NBK continues to enjoy collectively the highest ratings among all banks in the Middle East from the three international rating agencies Moody’s, Fitch Ratings and Standard and Poor’s. The Bank’s ratings are supported by its high capitalization, prudent lending policies, and its disciplined approach to risk management, in addition to its highly recognized and very stable management team.