UAE banks may need more government funds: report

07:46, August 02, 2010      

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While banks in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are "sufficiently capitalized," several banks may require up to 15.8 billion dirhams (4.3 billion U.S. dollars) in additional funds from the government, a Dubai-based business journal reported Sunday.

The UAE banking sector as a whole is sufficiently capitalized, but several banks would "need additional capital injections to meet the Central Bank's regulatory requirements in all given scenarios," Arabian Business said on its website, citing a stress test report by investment services provider Shuaa Capital.

Eight banks, which amount to 70 percent of the banking assets in the Gulf nation, were covered in the stress test, including Emirates NBD, the UAE's biggest bank, according to Arabian Business.

The report looked at a number of potential scenarios, "ranging from 2.5 billion dirhams (669 million dollars) in our base case up to 15.8 billion dirhams (4.3 billion dollars) in our worst case."

It said that if such capital is needed, the government will be in a position to provide the necessary recapitalization, "as the government has already stepped in to provide financial support to some UAE banks at the height of the financial crisis."

The biggest threats to the UAE banks' balance sheets were identified as real estate and personal loans extended in 2008, loans restructured in 2009 and banks' exposure to several large companies.

While the "worst of the recession appears to be over," the report pointed out that "local banks remain risk averse and reluctant to extend credit to the private sector due to concerns around future losses and write downs."

Figures from the UAE Central Bank showed that bank lending in the country grew by only 0.8 percent during the first six months of this year, compared to 1.5 percent and 24 percent during the same periods in 2009 and 2008 respectively.

In a bid to encourage the banks to increase their lending to the private sector, the report recommends "the UAE authorities implement broad structural and economic reform to encourage private sector and foreign investment."

As a result of the global credit crisis and a downturn in Dubai 's real estate sector, the UAE's banks have seen a slump in their profits.

Last week, Emirates NBD, one of the biggest lenders to indebted government-owned conglomerate Dubai World, reported a 28 percent decline in net profit for the first half of this year, compared to the same period in 2009.

Source: Xinhua


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