(MENAFN - Arab Times) Fitch Ratings, the international credit rating agency, affirmed the National Bank of Kuwait's (NBK) Long-term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at 'AA-' with a Stable Outlook.
Fitch said that NBK's ratings reflect the bank's dominant domestic franchise and international network, consistent profitability, strong capital base, sound asset quality, conservative risk profile and sound liquidity.
NBK maintained sound profitability ratios in 2011 and first quarter 2012," said Fitch. "Net income is expected to remain sound in 2012, despite the continuing difficult conditions in certain Middle East markets."
Fitch highlighted that NBK's asset quality ratios remain sound, reflecting the bank's conservative attitude to credit risk.
Fitch added that NBK has a strong and stable deposit base, and has benefited from a "flight to safety" during regional crises. Capitalization was strengthened in 2010, through a rights issue which raised KD 163.5 million including share premium. The Tier I ratio stood at 18.3%.
The rating agency pointed out that NBK is the largest bank in Kuwait, with a market share of around 30% of loans and deposits. It offers retail, private and corporate banking via an extensive domestic network of 67 branches. It also has an extensive international network in major financial centers worldwide and elsewhere in the Middle East.
NBK enjoys the highest credit ratings of all banks in the Middle East and North Africa region by the major international rating agencies: Moody's, Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings. In their latest reports, the three rating agencies affirmed NBK's credit ratings with a stable outlook.
In 2012, NBK moved up 14 positions to rank 33 among the 50 safest banks in the world. NBK is the only Arab bank to be listed among the world's 50 safest banks five times in a row.