Standard & Poor's Changes to 'Negative', Outlook on Bank Audi, BankMed, BLOM Bank


Standard & Poor's revised its outlook on the long-term ratings of Bank Audi, BankMed and BLOM Bank to 'negative' from 'stable'. It

simultaneously affirmed the 'B' long-term counterparty credit ratings on the three banks, and the 'B' short-term counterparty credit ra ings on Bank Audi and BankMed.


The agency attributed the outlook revision to its earlier change of the outlook on Lebanon's sover- eign ratings to 'negative' from 'stable' due to rising geopolitical risks. It added that the rating action on the three banks reflects the risks inherent to their fragile operating environment, as well as the assumption that the banks would not withstand a scenario where Lebanon defaults on its obligations. Byblos Bank sal is not rated by Standard & Poor's.


It noted that the banks' sovereign exposure relative to their equity is still high, despite the decline of this exposure over time. As such, it pointed out that the banks' financial performance is closely linked to Lebanon's solvency. It noted that the banks' holdings of Lebanese government securities and Central Bank debt instruments relative to their common shareholder equity stood at about 3.8 times for Bank Audi, 4.1 times for BankMed, and 4.8 times for BLOM Bank


S&P said that it would downgrade the ratings on the three banks in case of a downgrade of the sovereign ratings. It pointed out that specific factors to each of the three banks that would prompt a change in their respective ratings appear limited at this stage, given the close links between the banks' creditworthiness and that of the sovereign.



Source: Byblos Bank economic publication

photo: Valentin Ottone


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