Moody's upbeat on Oman banking sector

New report says banking system remains stable; expects Oman economy to grow by 5%
Moody's upbeat on Oman banking sector
By Andy Sambidge
Fri 11 May 2012 11:44 AM

The outlook on Oman's banking system remains stable, with its economy underpinned by high oil prices and increased government spending, said Moody's in a new report.

This favourable operating environment will continue to support Omani banks' lending growth and profitability, and sustain their solid funding bases over the next 12-18-months, the rating agency said.

Over the same period, non-performing loans (NPLs) will likely stabilise at around 2.5-3 percent of total loans, it added.

The stable outlook also captures the banks' sound asset quality, strong revenue-generating capacity and solid capital buffers, Moody's said.

Despite these positive factors, Moody's also said it saw structural weaknesses related to the banks' high dependence on the small undiversified Omani economy.

Moody's said it expects Oman's real GDP to expand by five percent in 2012, fuelled by high oil prices and public spending, which will in turn stimulate economic activity outside the oil sector and positively affect the banking sector.

Oman's supportive macroeconomic conditions will boost credit growth - which Moody's expects will be between 15-17 percent in nominal terms in 2012.

Moody's also said that the Omani banking system had sufficient capital buffers to absorb expected credit losses should there be significant drops in oil prices.

Moody's said it expects that the banking system's overall profitability will remain at "comfortable levels", supported by higher lending volumes.

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