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Mon 8 Mar 2010 04:26 PM

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Gulf banks' non-performing loan peak 'still to come'

Ratios are set to further deteriorate in the next few quarters, ratings agency warns.

Gulf banks' non-performing loan peak 'still to come'
WARNING: Ratings agency S&Ps expects further increases in non-performing loans in the Gulf.

Gulf Arab banks may see further increases in non-performing loans as defaults by two Saudi Arabian conglomerates and Dubai World’s restructuring tarnish balance sheets, Standard & Poor’s said.

“The cleanup of Gulf banks’ loan portfolios has not yet come to an end,” the ratings company said today in an e-mailed report. The ratio of non-performing loans to total loans climbed to 5.4 percent on September 30 from 2.7 percent at the end of 2008, and “these ratios are set to further deteriorate in the next few quarters,” S&P said.

Banks across the Gulf region have suffered after the multi- billion dollar debt restructuring of two Saudi family holding companies, Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi & Brothers Co. and Saad Group.

In the final quarter of last year Dubai World, the emirate-held holding company, announced it would delay payments on $26bn in debt, putting more pressure on bank balance sheets.

“Starting from the second half of 2010 and assuming the economic recovery proceeds according to our expectations, we believe that asset quality for Gulf banks will likely bottom out before slowly improving,” according to the report.

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