US ratings agency Thomson BankWatch (TBW) has assigned local currency short and long-term debt ratings to Akbank, Demirbank, Disbank and Tutunbank.

TBW is currently expanding its Middle East coverage (see Finance). The assessments of the four banks are:

Akbank was assigned the top LC-1 grade for short-term local currency debt and LC-AA for long-term local currency debt. ‘Akbank’s profitability, capital and asset quality are among the best of the Turkish and other emerging markets banks,’ TBW senior vicepresident Ed Thompson said in a statement issued with the ratings on 7 May.

Demirbank was assigned LC-1 for shortterm lira debt and LC-A for long-term debt.

‘Through a more refined strategic direction, management has been able to bolster earnings to significant levels (without undue risk), maintain a liquid balance sheet and enhance capitalisation to very satisfactory levels,’ Thompson said.

Disbank was assigned an LC-1 for shortterm debt and no long-term debt rating. ‘On a stand-alone basis, Disbank’s profitability improved sharply from a severely depressed 1994. The bank returned to its basic business of foreign trade and securities trading for customers,’ ThW’s commentary said.

Tutunbank received an LC-2 for short-term lira debt and no long-term debt rating. ‘After several years of weak earnings associated with poor asset quality and a bloated expense structure, Tutunbank demonstrably improved its profitability in 1995,’ Thompson said. The bank’s emphasis on small to medium-sized customers had served it well over the past few years as lending volumes have grown markedly, ThW commented.