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Fitch upgrades Bank of Industry’s national rating to ‘AAA(Nga)’

Fitch Ratings has upgraded Bank of Industry’s (BoI) National Long-Term Rating to ‘AAA(nga)’ from ‘AA+(nga);’ and affirmed the Nigeria-based bank’s Long-Term Issuer Default Rating (IDR) at ‘B’ with a Stable Outlook.

It said the upgrade of BOI’s Long-Term National Rating of ‘AAA(nga)’ reflects the linkage between the bank and the sovereign has strengthened, as evident in the significant size of the CBN guarantees provided for BOI’s recent external funding.

The full list of rating actions shows that “BOI’s Long-Term IDR and SRF are equalised with the Long-Term IDR of the sovereign as we believe that the Nigerian authorities have a high propensity to support BOI.

Fitch says its assessment primarily reflects the following: The bank’s important and clearly defined policy role in funding economic growth in Nigeria; Its 99.9percent state ownership, split between the Ministry of Finance (94.8percent) and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN; 5.1percent); and

The entirety of the bank’s wholesale funding being either provided or guaranteed by the Nigerian state. However, Fitch also views the ability of the authorities to support BOI as limited by Nigeria’s ‘B’ Long-Term IDR.

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BOI is Nigeria’s primary development bank, with the mandate of financing the country’s emerging industrial sector.

The bank plays an important role in supporting government policies and in providing counter-cyclical loans since the onset of the economic crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the international rating agency, “BOI’s funding has increased substantially since March 2020, as the bank secured two large syndicated loan facilities of EUR1 billion and $1 billion from syndicates of commercial banks and multilateral development banks, which are fully guaranteed by the CBN.

“The proceeds of the borrowings are swapped with the CBN, boosting its foreign-exchange (FX) reserves and providing BOI with Nigerian naira to support its developmental activities.

“BOI’s management has indicated that this fundraising will serve to expand the bank’s lending to priority sectors.

“It might take BOI substantial time to channel the recently attracted funding to borrowers and as of end-1H21, 48percent of BOI’s total assets were kept in liquid government bonds and cash, compared with 20percent at end-2019.

Fitch says BOI maintains solid capitalisation and leverage metrics (end-1H21: equity-to-asset ratio of 19.4percent), which is prudent for the bank’s exposure to the volatile operating environment.

“Profitability is not a key objective; however, BOI continues to generate reasonable returns on equity (1H21: 18percent annualised) driven by healthy net interest margins and, so far, moderate loan impairment charges,” Fitch noted.

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