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Finance & Banking | Global Arab Network
UAE: Fitch Assigns Dubai Islamic Bank Rating A with Stable Outlook
Global Arab Network - - Talal Abdullah
UAE (Dubai ) - Fitch Ratings has assigned Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) a Long-term foreign currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) of 'A' with a Stable Outlook, Short-term IDR of 'F1', Individual Rating of 'C/D' and Support Rating Floor of 'A'. The bank's Support Rating of '1' has been affirmed, Global Arab Network reports according to a press statement.

DIB's Long- and Short-term IDRs and Support Rating reflect the extremely high probability of support from the UAE authorities, if needed. Fitch's opinion of likely support is based on the long history of support for banks in the UAE and DIB's leading Islamic franchise and systemic importance as a major retail bank.

The Individual Rating reflects DIB's strong franchise, earnings power and satisfactory liquidity position. It also considers high concentration risks in financing and investments and weak asset quality. Downside pressure on the Individual Rating could come from further material deterioration in Dubai's real estate sector.

Fitch believes that Dubai real estate prices have regained some stability, but the situation remains fragile. As more properties reach full development and financing risk is passed to the end-investors, the banks may be faced with a further wave of loan impairments.

Fitch estimates that around half of DIB's financing book is to domestic real estate following the bank's acquisition of a majority and controlling stake in the Dubai-based home finance company, Tamweel PJSC (rated 'BB'/RWP/'E'), in Q410. However, DIB has been reducing its exposure to commercial real estate (to developers etc) since Q408, a segment that has caused impaired loans (NPLs) to increase sharply in recent periods.

Fitch expects NPLs to continue to increase during 2011, albeit at a lower pace, as problems could also arise in home financing, although default rates are currently low. Adequate reserve coverage and high levels of collateral held are mitigating factors, as long as there is no further substantial decline in real estate prices.

DIB has sizable exposure to Dubai government and government-related entities (GREs), which raises concerns about concentration risk. However, DIB was not exposed to the Dubai World restructuring and has limited exposure to other GREs that are currently in restructuring talks with banks.

Fitch expects DIB's 2010 profitability to be impacted by rising impairment charges and lower non-financing income. However, pre-provision earnings have been consistently strong, reflecting the robust underlying business and franchise. This provides good loss absorption capacity. DIB's increasing focus on retail (consumer banking) should result in higher margins and further stability in earnings and compensate for low investment income. With household indebtedness at a relatively high level, risks are high for all retail focused banks.

Fitch considers DIB's funding profile to be a rating strength with customer deposits providing the bulk of its funding needs. Given its franchise, DIB attracts a large proportion of its deposits from the retail segment, ensuring a low cost and stable deposit base. Liquidity is therefore satisfactory, with its Fitch calculated loans/deposit ratio at 85% at end-9M10. The bank has traditionally kept a high level of liquid assets.

Capitalisation is tight, in Fitch's opinion, given DIB's weaker risk profile. However, capital ratios are above regulatory requirements with the bank reporting a Tier 1 ratio of 12.9%, and the quality of capital is good, with a Fitch core capital ratio of 12.8% at end-9M10.

Established in 1975, DIB is the oldest and largest Islamic bank in the UAE. The bank is listed on the Dubai Financial Market and is 30% owned by the Dubai government via the Investment Corporation of Dubai. Principal activities are broadly split into retail, corporate and investment banking and real estate finance. DIB announced in Q410 that it had increased its stake in Tamweel to 58.25% (from 19.8%). The bank also has a 45% stake in Deyaar Development PJSC, a major Dubai based real estate developer.

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