KUWAIT CITY, March 17, (Agencies): Standard & Poor’s, the international credit rating agency, affirmed the long-term credit ratings of National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) at A+. All the bank’s ratings carry a stable outlook.
“Our outlook on NBK is stable, reflecting our belief that its overall business and financial profile will remain resilient and generally unchanged despite the increased economic risks as a result of the significant decline in oil prices,” said Standard & Poor’s in a recent report on NBK.
Standard & Poor’s said that “Despite some expected deterioration in financial performance, we think NBK will largely navigate through the more challenging operating environment without major difficulties. We consider that the bank’s risk profile has also improved. Over the past few years, the bank has bolstered its key asset-quality metrics while building additional loan loss buffers. More importantly in our view, improvements in banking regulation will help partially mitigate the impact of rising economic risks for the bank’s operations in Kuwait.”
“There have been some positive developments on the regulatory front over the past few years. For example, Kuwaiti authorities improved the regulation and supervision of Kuwait’s local investment companies significantly” the agency added. “The Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) was also one of the earliest adopters of Basel III in the Gulf region, and among other measures over the past few years, the CBK proactively asked the country’s banks to increase their loan-loss coverage even though nonperforming loan levels were declining. We believe these reserves have increased Kuwaiti banks’ capacity to withstand credit losses in the current economic downturn.”
NBK has consistently been awarded the highest credit ratings in the region by the major international rating agencies: Moody’s, Standard & Poor’s and Fitch Ratings. NBK is the only Arab bank to be listed among the world’s 50 safest banks for ten consecutive times.
Meanwhile, National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) plans to sell down part of the KD 600 million ($1.99 billion) it is contributing to Kuwait National Petroleum Company’s Clean Fuels Project loan to other banks, it said in a statement on Thursday.
NBK and Kuwait Finance House are leading the arranging of the first tranche of the funding, which includes a 10-year, 900-million-dinar loan.
The sale of NBK’s part of the loan, known as syndicating, will happen at a later date, the bank said without elaborating.
Part of the country’s 30-billion-dinar economic development plan, the Clean Fuels Project will upgrade and expand two of the Gulf Arab state’s largest existing refineries with a focus on producing higher-value products such as diesel and kerosene for export.