The North African banks that Standard & Poor's rates are on a good credit trajectory and the strongest of them have the potential to eventually reach investment grade, said Standard & Poor's Ratings Services in a report published today, "North Africa's Leading Banks Are Now On The Path To Investment Grade But Getting There May Take Time." "A supportive economic environment, more committed regulators, and foreign shareholders are benefiting North African banks, although discrepancies among them are still large," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Mohamed Damak. Standard & Poor's rates three out of the five countries of North Africa and 12 banks in these three countries. We rate five banks in the Republic of Tunisia (foreign currency BBB/Stable/A-2, local currency A/Stable/A-1), four in the Arab Republic of Egypt (foreign currency BB+/Stable/B, local currency BBB-/Stable/A-3), and three in the Kingdom of Morocco (foreign currency BB+/Positive/B, local currency BBB/Positive/A-3). "Banks still have a way to go before reaching the 'BBB' world but corporate governance, risk management, and transparency could make the difference," added Mr. Damak. "In assigning our ratings, we may give a bank's stand-alone credit quality some uplift to reflect our expectation of strong likelihood of external support. In North Africa, such support comes from foreign shareholders for private-sector banks and governments for public-sector banks. We classify the three North African countries we rate as "supportive" toward their banking sectors and place the latter in our Banking Industry Country Risk Assessment (BICRA) Group 8."