Standard & Poor's Ratings Services (S&P), the leading world-renowned credit rating agency, has assigned its 'A-/A-2' long-term and short-term counter party credit ratings to Kuwait Finance House (KFH), the Kuwait-based global leader in Islamic banking. The outlook is stable. This is the first full, interactive rating on an Islamic financial institution (IFI) by S&P.
The ratings reflect KFH's leading commercial position, healthy customer franchise, high profitability, and the expected support of the State of Kuwait (A+/Stable/A-1+) following licensing / registry of Islamic banks in Kuwait and the resultant impending regulatory supervision. KFH has already achieved a superior level of diversification, with no drift in asset quality.
The second-largest bank in Kuwait and a pioneer in Islamic banking & finance, KFH is one of the biggest Islamic Financial Institutions in the world and has captured the largest customer franchise in the Kuwaiti domestic market, where competition is likely to increase, as other Islamic Financial Institutions move into Kuwait and start banking businesses that are compliant with Islamic Laws (Sharia).
KFH controls relatively large subsidiaries in Bahrain, Turkey and United Arab Emirates, and is about to launch operations in Malaysia. The bank also controls and manages a wide range of specialized entities in various sectors, including real estate.
Standard & Poor's stable outlook for KFH reflects the rating agency’s expectation that KFH will retain its strong financial profile and leading commercial position, despite the emergence of new entrants to its domestic market.
Meanwhile Capital Intelligence (CI), the international emerging markets bank analysis and rating service has raised KFH’s Long-Term Foreign Currency to ‘A’ (from A-), while maintaining other ratings (Short-Term at ‘A2’, Financial Strength at ‘A-’, Support at level ‘2’) with a Stable Outlook. In doing so, Capital Intelligence has cited many positive factors, some of which are KFH’s leading Islamic banking franchise with growing overseas presence, strong profitability and sophisticated IT structure that allows it to maintain an edge in service delivery, besides acknowledging its Sharia-credibility, management strength & reputation, diversity of operations and established transaction history.
Earlier this year (May, 2004), the globally recognized Fitch Ratings raised KFH’s long-term foreign currency rating to ‘A-’, while keeping short-term at ‘F2’, Individual at ‘C’, Support rating at ‘1’ with a stable outlook.
Likewise, in July 2004 Moody’s (the well-known rating agency) had upgraded KFH to ‘A2’ (long-term), ‘P2’ (short-term), and ‘D+’ (financial strength) with stable outlook.
Euromoney magazine, while giving KFH the “Best Leasing House” award consecutively for the last two years, has been equally lavish in its praise of KFH.
The bank has also been awarded the First Euromoney / Islamic Finance Weekly Retail Banking and Finance Award for 2004, by virtue of which KFH is the winner of Best Islamic Credit/Debit/Charge Card as voted by Islamic Finance Weekly.
Senior MasterCard International Executives visited Kuwait Finance House on 21st April 2004 in acknowledgment of the strong mutual business growth. Over the last three years Kuwait Finance House recorded the fastest growth rate amongst local banks on its MasterCard portfolio in Kuwait.
Expressing utmost pleasure on receiving such awards, upgrades and recognitions,