JCR-VIS Reaffirms AAA ratings of Habib Bank Limited

Karachi, June 29, 2018 (PPI-OT):JCR-VIS Credit Rating Company Limited has reaffirmed the entity ratings of Habib Bank Limited (HBL) at ‘AAA/A-1+’ (Triple A/A-One Plus). JCR-VIS has also reaffirmed the Basel 3 compliant Tier 2 TFC rating of HBL at ‘AA+’ (Double A Plus). Outlook on the assigned ratings remains unchanged at ‘Negative’. The previous rating action was announced on September 22, 2017.

The assigned ratings incorporate HBL’s position as the largest commercial bank in the country with systemic importance and diversified operations. The ratings also reflect strong momentum in domestic operations as evident from healthy increase in average current account deposits, broad based growth in financing portfolio with improving asset quality indicators, and strong liquidity and capitalization indicators. While overall earnings have been impacted post the settlement payment with respect to New York operations, profitability from domestic operations remains strong. Innovation, financial inclusion and compliance continue to be important pillars in the Bank’s overall strategy.

The liquidity profile of the Bank is healthy as evident from a sizeable and growing customer base and cost effective domestic deposit mix. HBL continues to dominate in terms of new to bank relationships with 1.3m new deposit customers added in 2017 taking the total customer base to over 11m worldwide. The Bank’s sizeable customer base is a significant strategic advantage. However, depositor concentration levels have increased on a timeline basis and there is room for improvement.

Despite a drop in equity base, capital indicators have showed significant improvement due to focused management of Risk Weighted Assets (RWAs) and are currently above JCR-VIS’s benchmark for the assigned ratings. Increasing regulatory capital requirements as part of Basel 3 and D-SIB framework implementation will result in a need to further enhance capital buffers over the next 18 months. Focus on management of RWAs along with higher internal capital generation vis-à-vis 2017, is expected to result in capital buffers to continue be above with the benchmark for the assigned ratings.

Contribution of overseas assets in the Bank’s total asset base declined to 8.5% at end-2017 due to the higher growth in domestic assets and consolidation in the international business, which remains a key focus area. Growth in portfolio is anticipated primarily from Middle East, while China operations are expected to receive a boost as RMB clearing license has now been issued.

Ratings continue to be placed on negative outlook as JCR-VIS would track impact of macroeconomic developments on profitability (quantum of exchange losses), increasing regulatory capital requirements and development of look back by New York regulator; JCR-VIS understands that there is no update since the disclosure in the Bank’s 2017 financial statements. The rating outlook would be reviewed, if needed, with the unfolding of events in these matters.

For more information, contact:
JCR-VIS Credit Rating Company Limited
VIS House, 128/C,
25th Lane off Khayaban-e-Ittehad,
Phase VII, DHA, Karachi
Tel: +92-21-35311861-72
Fax: +92-21-35311873
Email: sobia@jcrvis.com.pk

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