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Alvarez & Marsal releases UAE banking pulse report for Q2 2019

the UAE banking sector remains resilient as banks continue to report a steady performance despite the economic slowdown

Little change in overall sector metrics hides significant differences within individual banks Sector continues to perform well despite economic slowdown Operating income remains stable despite rising costs

By:Alvarez & Marsal- Companies, investors and government entities around the world turn to Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) when conventional approaches are not enough to drive change and achieve results.

Leading global professional services firm Alvarez & Marsal (A&M)today released its latest UAE Banking Pulsefor Q2 2019which shows that the UAE banking sector remains resilient as banks continue to report a steady performance despite the economic slowdown.

The report shows that overall operating income across the sector improved marginally from Q1 2019, largely driven by consolidation activity in the sector as the merger of ADCB with Al Hilal Bank and UNB completed in the spring. The headline figures also hide a disparity in terms of individual performances, which offset each other to produce only marginal rates of change overall.

Read: This is how much customers trust UAE banks

The completion of the merger of UNB and Al Hilal Bank into ADCB has removed two independent players from the market. Although the expected pace of M&A activity could slow down, increasing regulatory requirements, digital spending, pressures to reconfigure physical infrastructure and competition are likely to support the case for further consolidation in the sector.

Alvarez & Marsal’s UAE Banking Pulse compares the data of the ten largest listed banks in the UAE, looking at the second quarter of 2019 (Q2 2019) against the previous quarter (Q1 2019).

The prevailing trends identified for Q2 2019 were as follows:

  1. Deposits for the top ten banks grew at a faster rate (8.5 percent) than Loans and Advances (7.7 percent) in Q2’19, which put pressure on margins.
  2. Growth in operating income increased significantly, partially driven by ADCB, which reported a 26.8% QoQ increase in NII (the result of the merger).
  3. NIM improved marginally by 3bps in Q2‘19 to 2.48% over Q1’19. The improvement was largely driven by increase in loans and advances, and a stabilized yield on credit.
  4. The overall C/I ratio increased from 31.8% to 32.9%, but this was mainly the result of the costs incurred by ADCB in implementing the merger. Excluding ADCB, C/I ratio was 31.7% for Q2’19.
  5. The upward trend in cost of risk continued from Q1’19. The CoR was marginally up at 0.9% as several banks increased their net loan loss provisions by 15.0% in the quarter. There were higher than previous averages impairment charges for some of the banks; it is likely that this could be due to the continued pressure on the broader real estate sector, although overall exposure to real estate remained largely unchanged. However, CoR is likely to increase further on account of pressure seen across the real estate, hospitality and retail sectors amid softening economic conditions.
  6. Overall return on equity (RoE) decreased in Q2’19. However, six of the ten banks covered in the Banking Pulse reported an increase in RoE.

Alvarez & Marsal’s report uses independently sourced published market data and 16 different metrics to assess the banks’ key performance areas, including size, liquidity, income, operating efficiency, risk, profitability and capital.

Read: Consolidation, digital transformation, drive UAE’s banking sector moving forward

The country’s ten largest listed banks analysed in A&M’s UAE Banking Pulse are First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), Emirates NBD (ENBD), Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB), Mashreq Bank (Mashreq), Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB), Commercial Bank of Dubai (CBD), Emirates Islamic Bank (EIB), National Bank of Ras Al-Khaimah (RAK) and Sharjah Islamic Bank (SIB).

OVERVIEW

The table below sets out the key metrics:

Source: Financial statements, investor presentations, A&M analysis

A&M Managing Director and Middle East Office Co-Head in the firm’s Strategic Performance Improvement Practice, Dr. Saeeda Jaffar, is the lead author of the report. It is co-authored by A&M Head of Financial Services Asad Ahmed, along withNeil Hayward, Managing Director and Middle East Co-Head, who specialises in turnaround and restructuring.

Asad Ahmed commented: “The top ten UAE banks reported steady performance in top line during Q2’19 but well below the 2018 average of 5.6%, against a backdrop of reduced economic growth. For the remainder of 2019, we expect margins to remain under pressure due to the rate cut in July 2019, and further rate cuts are possible. It’s also clear that different banks are adopting different strategies according to their individual circumstances, leading to significant variation on certain metrics.

“Increased funding costs are likely to impact banks amidst intensified competition for deposits and tighter liquidity in the second half. As such, with any more tightening in liquidity, banks could take this as an opportunity to readapt their business models based by increasing efficiencies that match the current scenario.

“Moreover, as observed in the first half, major initiatives announced by the UAE government are expected to drive credit growth in the banking sector. Much of this will be underpinned by increased infrastructure investment, especially in Abu Dhabi following the fiscal stimulus and further efforts to drive economic diversification. We also expect the new rules on long term visas and increased diversification in the ownership structure of companies to have a positive impact in the second half of the year.”