June 21 - Fitch Ratings has affirmed the Islamic Development Bank's (IsDB)
Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'AAA' with a Stable Outlook and Short-term IDR at 'F1+'. IsDB's ratings are underpinned by strong intrinsic features, primarily by excellent capitalisation. IsDB is one of the most highly capitalised multilateral development banks (MDBs) covered by Fitch. The ratio of equity to assets has remained above 60% since inception (64.1% at end-1432H, equivalent to 25 November 2011 in the Gregorian calendar), mainly thanks to regular capital inflows from shareholders and steady yet moderate profits. The ratio of debt to equity is low, at 49.2% at end-1432H. The bank also maintains a comfortable level of liquid assets, which more than fully covered its short-term liabilities at end-1432H. Credit risk is moderate. The IsDB mainly extends project financing guaranteed by member states or state-owned banks to finance infrastructure or social services. Due to compliance with Islamic finance principles, most financing is asset-backed. As with other MDBs, activity is mostly focused on speculative grade borrowers (63.7% at end-1432H) but the bank benefits from preferred-creditor status on sovereign-guaranteed operations, therefore keeping impaired operations at a minimum. It limits concentration risk as it operates in a diversified number of countries and abides by strict country and single obligor limits. The five largest borrowers accounted for 32.8% of equity at end-1432H, a lower level than most peers. Fitch deems other risks under control. Credit risk on treasury assets is mitigated by the recourse to short-term investments in a diversified range of instruments and banks. Interest rate risk and foreign exchange risk are strictly hedged. The bank's risk on equity investments is higher (equity stakes and fund participations accounted for 16.2% of total operations at end-1432H and have suffered significant unrealised losses recently) but remains manageable given the bank's long-term investment horizon and comfortable cushion of equity. Shareholders' support is also supportive of the rating. IsDB's capital is owned by 56 countries, all members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, which have committed to provide callable capital in case the bank should require it to honour its liabilities. Although the proportion of highly rated callable capital is lower than for peers (with 43.4% of callable capital being rated 'AA-' or above at end-1432H), willingness to support is strong as illustrated by continuous capital inflows to the bank. The bank undertook countercyclical action in 2009-2011, significantly increasing its loan portfolio. It has temporarily slowed its growth rate in 1433H but intends to significantly reinforce the use of its capital resources in the coming years. This should affect capitalisation and leverage but Fitch expects the IsDB to preserve its cautious prudential framework. Downward pressure on IsDB's ratings would occur if Fitch observed a pronounced deterioration of asset quality or a sudden and unexpected deterioration in capitalisation and leverage. The IsDB is based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. It was established in 1975 with the aim of fostering economic development and social progress, and provides project and trade finance as well as technical assistance to its member countries. It employed 739 staff at end-1432H and operated through four regional offices in Morocco, Malaysia, Kazakhstan and Senegal.
Alfalah Consulting - Kuala Lumpur:
Islamic Investment Malaysia: