According to the Standard & Poor’s Saudi commercial banks are becoming some of the most profitable banks in the world.
Nicole Hardy, a credit analyst at Standard & Poor’s said that “through a unique combination of features, Saudi banks continue to generate strong earnings and revenues, which consequently increase profits.” Despite regional unrest, Saudi banks performed exceptionally well in the second quarter of this year.
The 12 local commercial banks recorded a staggering SR8.2 billion in net profits, marking a 15.3 per cent increase over the same period last year, according to the National Commercial Bank’s weekly Market Review & Outlook.
All banks recorded gains, some with quadruple digit growth rates, apart from Samba Financial Group which witnessed a decrease of 9.7 per cent due to lower net special commission income levels, a decline of 5.7 per cent.
Saudi banks operate in volatile environments, but manage under the care of the Saudi government, which has a /+A-1 stable –AA/ rating. Some key features of the restructured Saudi banking system also explain the banks’ strong performance: Low financing costs, good pricing of energy, high efficiency and tax-free environment. Other than the political risk and challenges associated with working in a changing economic environment, Standard & Poor’s believes that bad loans remain the main threat to Saudi banks.
Standard & Poor’s doesn’t expect any deterioration in the quality of public assets in the near future and believes banks may be well positioned to take advantage of growth opportunities in the development of local individual and corporate sectors, which will allow them to continue having solid earnings.