Ahli United Bank (AUB) B.S.C. today announced that Fitch Ratings has affirmed the long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of the bank at ‘A-’ with Stable Outlook. Fitch has also reaffirmed AUB’s short term IDR at ‘F2’, Individual at ‘B/C’ and Support at ‘1’. The Fitch move follows on the heel of similar rating confirmations at ‘A- stable’ by Standard and Poor's (S&P) Rating Service and ‘A stable’ by Capital Intelligence, announced earlier in July 2009.
In separate rating reports, Fitch also reaffirmed its long term rating of ‘A-‘ (stable) for two of AUB’s subsidiaries, Ahli United Bank (United Kingdom) (AUB UK) and the Bank of Kuwait and the Middle East (BKME).
In its rating report, released on 30 September 2009, Fitch Ratings said, “The Long and Short-term IDRs and Support rating reflect the extremely high probability of support for AUB from its core shareholders, if needed. Its Individual rating reflects the bank's expanding franchise, solid operating profit despite rising impairment charges, sound liquidity and asset quality, and diversified funding.”
Fitch highlighted the fact that, “AUB aims to maintain an optimal mix between tier 1 and tier 2 capital. The Fitch-eligible capital ratio, which includes equity credit for the bank's hybrid capital, stood at a comfortable 12% at end-June 2009.”
Fahad Al-Rajaan, Chairman, Ahli United Bank, expressed satisfaction with this most recent review by Fitch, “It is all the more gratifying to see that the rating affirmation was not limited to AUB flagship operation in Bahrain, but also included two of AUB’s major subsidiaries, AUB (UK) and BKME, in a further testimony to the resilience and strong fundamentals of AUB Group as a whole, even in the midst of one of the most challenging periods in decades”.
“Having just repaid US$400m of a syndicated loan in August 2009 well ahead of its final maturity date, AUB has proved itself successful in preserving its strong liquidity and solid capitalization despite the regional fallouts of the global financial crisis. This was achieved thanks to our concerted and sustained efforts towards maintaining asset quality, balance sheet discipline and focused risk and cost control,” added Fahad Al-Rajaan.
AUB’s businesses consist of the base operation in Bahrain where it operates as a retail bank licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain, along with a network of subsidiary and managed associate banks in Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Egypt, Iraq and the United Kingdom. Bank’s performance has earned it a string of international accolades over the years. In 2009, AUB won the Best Bank in the Middle East award by New York-based Global Finance for the fourth consecutive year.