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Two Nigerian banks, Access, GTB on strong footing, Fitch affirms

Two leading money deposit banks in Nigeria, GTBank and Access Bank have rated and given clean bill of health by Fitch Rating in London.

Whereas the Guaranty Trust Bank Plc’s (GTB) Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) has been affirmed at ‘B+’ with Negative Outlook by Fitch Ratings, Access Bank Plc’s Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) is placed at ‘B’.

Access Bank’s Outlook is stable and at the same time upgraded the lender’s National Long-Term Rating to ‘A+(nga)’ from ‘A(nga)’. All other ratings have been affirmed.

The upgrade of Access’ National Long-Term Rating reflects Fitch’s view of an improvement in its creditworthiness relative to other rated Nigerian institutions. This considers continued expansion of the bank’s franchise and stable asset quality.

In a statement issued in London, Fitch Ratings noted that all other ratings of GTB have also been affirmed.

It noted that the bank’s IDRs are driven by the bank’s intrinsic creditworthiness as defined by its Viability Rating (VR). GTB’s VR is constrained by the Nigerian sovereign rating (B+/Negative) and the Negative Outlook on the Long-Term IDR mirrors that on the sovereign rating.

GTB’s VR also considers solid financial metrics that compare well with other large Nigerian banks. Earnings metrics are especially strong and we consider GTB to be the most profitable bank in the sector, consistently achieving an operating return on average assets of at least 5% annually. Strong profitability reflects strong margins and a structurally lower cost base than peers. Non-interest expense as percentage of average assets is consistently below 4%, with most peers touching 5% or higher.

Strong earnings support capitalisation. GTB’s Fitch Core Capital (FCC) ratio of 26.7% is extremely high, although this considers capitalisation of interim earnings without the payment of a year end-dividend. Nevertheless, we expect GTB’s FCC ratio to remain well above 20% following the distribution of dividends. Regulatory capital is also sound with a bank-solo Tier 1 ratio of 22.9%. We consider both foreign and local currency liquidity to be sound.

Asset quality metrics are in line with peers, with a ratio of non-performing loans (NPLs) to gross loans of 3.9% at end-September 2017. NPLs have gradually ticked up as borrowers have faced escalating challenges in Nigeria. However, NPLs have remained well contained. Restructuring of the loan book is common, but not as widespread as we have seen in many other banks, at around 10% of gross loans, while past due but not impaired loans are minimal.

GTB’s National Ratings are a reflection of its relative creditworthiness to the best credits in Nigeria. GTB’s National Ratings consider stronger financial metrics than almost all peers.

The long- and short-term ratings on GTB Finance B.V.’s senior unsecured programme have been affirmed at ‘B+’. The long-term rating of senior debt issued by GTB has also been affirmed at ‘B+’ with a Recovery Rating of ‘RR4’ indicating average recovery prospects.

The SR is potentially sensitive to any change in assumptions around the propensity or ability of the sovereign to provide timely support to the bank.

Segun Agbaje
Segun Agbaje, GMD of GTBank

The rating actions are as follows for Guaranty Trust Bank Plc:

Long-Term IDR affirmed at ‘B+’; Outlook Negative

Short-Term IDR affirmed at ‘B’

Viability Rating affirmed at ‘b+’

Support Rating affirmed at ‘5’

Support Rating Floor affirmed at ‘No Floor’

National Long-Term Rating affirmed at ‘AA-(nga)’

National Short-Term Rating affirmed at ‘F1+(nga)’

Senior unsecured long-term rating affirmed at ‘B+’/’RR4’

Senior unsecured programme long- and short-term ratings of GTB Finance B.V. affirmed at ‘B+/B’/’RR4’

 

The rating actions for Access Bank are as follows:

Long-Term IDR affirmed at ‘B’; Outlook Stable

Short-Term IDR affirmed at ‘B’

Viability Rating affirmed at ‘b’

Support Rating affirmed at ‘5’

Support Rating Floor affirmed at ‘No Floor’

National Long-Term Rating upgraded to A+(nga) from ‘A(nga)’

National Short-Term Rating affirmed at ‘F1(nga)’

Senior unsecured long-term rating affirmed at ‘B/RR4’

Senior unsecured short-term rating affirmed at ‘B’

Subordinated long-term rating affirmed at ‘B-‘/’RR5’