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MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 03/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Buoyed by additional job creation and significant government investment in infrastructure projects this year, Oman's finance and leasing sector, comprising six listed companies, posted a 22.6 per cent growth in financing activity in the first nine months of this year.Combined net investment by all the six companies increased to RO684.7mn in the nine-month period ended September 30, 2012, as compared to RO558.6mn a year ago.According to industry executives, credit offtake has been higher due to increased demand from corporate and SME segments for vehicles and construction equipment, as well as for car financing. However, they said that competition has increased in the industry, pressuring margins.Al Omaniya Financial Services, the largest finance and leasing company in the sultanate, outperformed the sector with a 39 per cent growth in its loan book which stood at RO197mn as of September 30 of this year.Aftab Patel, CEO of Al Omaniya, said that growth prospects are quite promising for the sector thanks to infrastructure development and employment generation in the country.''Our corporate loan book, which has been doing very well, will continue to grow next year as well. Al Omaniya's ability to grow is much larger due to its size and ability to finance large projects. The leasing sector will continue to grow with the GDP growth in the country.''Hira Lal Barwani, CEO of Oman Orix Leasing, said that overall credit growth of leasing companies is likely to be slightly lower in the fourth quarter compared to the last three quarters and full-year growth for 2012 would be around 21-22 per cent.He said, ''With increased paid-up capital and demand for car financing, SME, construction and trading activity, loan portfolios in the leasing sector have gone up. This growth momentum should continue next year. We expect 21-22 per cent credit growth next year as well.''Robert Pancras, CEO of National Finance, said that the momentum in credit growth is likely to continue through the next 12-18 months. ''As the growth in infrastructure investment continues we will maintain the current growth in the fourth quarter and next year."There is an increasing demand for transportation and construction equipment. The demand for car financing will keep on growing as jobs are created.''''A lot of infrastructure projects will get traction and we do not see any reason for a slowdown in demand next year,'' Pancras added.


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