Nitish Bhojnagarwala

GCC sovereigns, GREs to drive #sukuk supplies in 2018

Growth in global sukuk issuance is expected to remain muted this year although issuance volumes are likely stable. Moody’s Senior Analyst Nitish Bhojnagarwala expects sukuk issuances to remain broadly stable between $90-$100 billion in 2018, again driven largely by sovereigns. Although the financing needs of sovereigns, banks and corporates in the GCC have decreased in recent months due to higher oil prices, these issuers are expected to continue to support the industry. Sukuk market activity is also supported by specialised multilateral entities, such as quasi-sovereigns, central banks and supranational entities, including the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the International Liquidity Management Corporation (IILM) and the Arab Petroleum Investments Corporation (APICORP). Moody’s estimate that total sovereign sukuk volumes will remain stable in 2018 although some of the large issuances in 2017 may not be repeated in 2018, driving a marginal decline in the overall value.

Shariah compliant finance is now nearly half of GCC banking market: Moody's

According to Moody’s, Islamic banking has grown in a decade from less than a third of the GCC banking market to account for 45% of the sector. Moody's senior analyst Nitish Bhojnagarwala said that growth in the Islamic finance sector would continue to outstrip that of conventional assets in coming years. In his view, growth will be supported by governments looking for diversification, as well as by continued demand for Islamic products from individuals. Another growth factor will be Islamic insurers' penetration into Southeast Asia and North Africa. Annual sukuk issuances have more than doubled to $100 billion from $42 billion from 2008 until September 2017. Moody's expects a similar level of activity in 2018.

Islamic finance set to extend growth, says Moody’s

According to Moody's Investors Service, the growth of the Islamic finance sector will continue to outstrip that of conventional assets across core Islamic finance markets. Islamic banking penetration in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) increased to 45% of the total banking market, as of September 2017 from 31% in 2008. Moody's Senior Analyst Nitish Bhojnagarwala, said the Islamic finance sector would be supported by governments, as well as by continued demand for Islamic products from individuals. Another growth factor will be Islamic insurers' penetration into Southeast Asia and North Africa. Sukuk issuances grew 17% in 2017 to $100 billion, driven largely by GCC sovereigns. A similar level of issuance is expected in 2018, although the recent recovery in oil prices could lower financing needs for some sovereigns. Corporate and asset-backed sukuk activity was muted in 2017 because of more attractive conventional market opportunities and Moody's expects the same for 2018.

Moody's: #GCC Islamic banks more profitable than conventional peers for second year running in 2017

According to Moody's Investors Service, the profitability of Islamic banks' in the Gulf cooperation Council (GCC) region will outpace that of their conventional peers for the second consecutive year in 2017. Islamic banks will maintain stronger margins in 2017, primarily as a result of their low funding costs, which reflect their reliance on stable current and savings account balances. Islamic banks also tend to have higher asset yields, given their focus on retail and the real estate related lending. Moody's expects that Islamic banks will retain a margin advantage of about 40 basis points over conventional banks in 2017. Moody's analyst Nitish Bhojnagarwala says conventional banks will continue to beat Islamic peers in terms of cost efficiency. Islamic banks are investing in branch network expansion, while conventional banks have already established their branch networks.

#Qatari bank #merger will ‘rebalance’ the market – Moody’s

According to Moody’s Investors Service, a proposed merger between three Qatari banks would help “rebalance” the banking sector in the country. The merger is currently at due diligence stage and will be subject to approval by the relevant authorities. The merged entity between Masraf Al Rayan, Barwa Bank and International Bank of Qatar would create the largest Islamic bank and second largest lender in Qatar. Total assets would amount to around QAR173bn ($48bn) and the market share would be around 14%. Moody’s assistant vice president Nitish Bhojnagarwala said Islamic banking asset growth has outpaced conventional banking in Qatar, as demonstrated by a 21% compound annual growth rate of loans for Islamic banks between 2011 and 2016 compared with 14% for the conventional banks. The GCC is witnessing a consolidation in the banking sector, with the two largest lenders in Abu Dhabi also currently preparing to merge.

Moody's: Strong Islamic #retail franchise drives profitability for #Saudi Arabia's Al Rajhi Bank despite tougher operating conditions

Moody's announced that Al Rajhi Bank's dominant Islamic retail franchise will continue to drive a strong financial performance into 2017. Despite pressure on the Saudi economy from lower oil prices, Al Rahji's retail focus delivers solid margins and asset quality. Moody's analyst Nitish Bhojnagarwala said Al Rajhi's Islamic retail portfolio drives higher financing yields and stronger margins than its peers both in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC). Coupled with a modest cost base and relatively lower provisioning, this generated a solid return on assets of 2.5% for the first six months of 2016. Furthermore, strong profits, combined with solid retention rate, provide healthy internal capital generation for the bank, which had a tangible common equity ratio of 19.8% as of June 2016.

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