Saudi Arabian banks are lending the most in at least five years as the government’s plan to invest $500 billion in new housing, infrastructure and industry boosts confidence in the kingdom’s economy.
Bank credit climbed 13 per cent in the 12 months ending in May to 868 billion riyals, Dh849 billion, according to central bank data. Ten of 11 publicly-traded banks reported raising the value of their loan portfolios in the first six months.“Bank lending to the private sector will increase by 14 per cent this year,” Paul Gamble, Riyadh-based Chief Economist at Jadwa Investment said i “Strong economic-growth prospects have reassured banks about the lending environment and spurred demand for credit."
King Abdullah’s spending plan, which is based on a forecast that the kingdom needs to build 1.25 million new homes by 2014, encouraged banks in the world’s biggest oil exporter to arrange a record $7.9 billion of syndicated loans in 2012, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Alinma Bank posted the largest increase in loans with a jump of 33 per cent, while Al Rajhi Bank, the biggest lender by market value, reported a 23 per cent gain.
The economy of the world’s largest oil producer is forecast to expand 4.8 per cent this year, the second-fastest pace in the GCC after Qatar, according to an April survey of economists compiled by Bloomberg. “In terms of earnings, the driving factor has been revenue growth,” Murad Ansari, Riyadh-based analyst at investment bank EFG-Hermes Holding SAE, said in response to e-mailed questions. “Loan growth is contributing to fee income, while provisioning costs have also appeared to have largely stabilized.”