S&P puts Saudi banks on negative outlook

19 February 2015

Action follows earlier review of Saudi sovereign risk

Rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has revised the outlook of four Saudi Arabian banks to negative from stable.

The banks are Al-Rajhi Bank, The National Commercial Bank (NCB), Riyad Bank and Samba Financial Group. The agency affirmed the A+/A-1 rating of all four banks.

The move follows a similar rating action taken by S&P on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia earlier in February.

In light of falling oil prices and subsequent pressure on Saudi government finances, the agency put the kingdom on ‘negative’ watch, while affirming the AA-/A-1+ rating.

The agency says that it considers the four banks as “highly systemically important” to Saudi Arabia, and, therefore, it would be highly likely the government would provide support to the financial institutions if ever required.

Earlier this month, S&P downgraded the ratings of Gulf countries Bahrain and Oman due to concerns about the impact of low oil prices on the countries’ fiscal position.

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