Fitch moves on Qatari banks

15 October 2001

London-based rating agency Fitch has expanded and upgraded its coverage of the Qatari banking sector.

On 3 October, Fitch upgraded its long-term rating for Qatar National Bank (QNB)to BBB+ from BBB, and affirmed the bank's short-term rating of F2. Fitch also assigned QNB new individual and support ratings of B/C and 2 respectively.

'Fitch's ratings reflect QNB's dominant domestic franchise, its consistent track record in terms of revenue growth and profitability, its sound asset quality and strong capitalisation,' says the rating agency. 'The support rating reflects QNB's leading market position and substantial government ownership, which should ensure regulatory support for the bank, in case of need.'

On 2 October, Fitch issued Doha Bankan individual rating of C/D and a support rating of 2. It also issued a support rating of 2 to Al-Ahli Bank of Qatar.

'Doha Bank's ratings reflect its important domestic market shares, improving core earnings in recent years and a stable deposit base,' says Fitch. 'They are balanced by a reliance on a small domestic market and a relatively high proportion of non-performing loans where comparatively weak reserve coverage potentially impinges on capital ratios.'

The rating agency says that the support rating for Al-Ahli Bank reflects the fact that the bank is currently benefiting from state support in the form of the guarantee from the Qatar Central Bank.

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