Muscat: The globally renowned credit agency Fitch Ratings has reaffirmed Bank Sohar's long-term rating at investment grade BBB+ with a stable forward outlook. In a short span of six years, Bank Sohar has emerged as one of the leading banking institutions in the Omani market, setting new benchmarks for market growth and customer satisfaction. This rating underlines Bank Sohar's position as one of the most prominent players in the banking and finance sector in the Sultanate of Oman.
Fitch pointed out the bank's strengthening profitability due to the successful deployment of its strategy, and its capable and experienced management. The rating body went on to note the solid growth in earnings and profitability in 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, with net income rising by 58 per cent and 15 per cent respectively, year-on-year. It may be noted that the 58 per cent growth in profits in 2012 was the highest among local banks.
Commenting on the Fitch Rating, Dr Mohamed Abdulaziz Kalmoor, CEO of Bank Sohar said, "Fitch reviews both quantitative and qualitative elements of a bank's strengths and weaknesses. This coverage includes balance sheet integrity, profitability, risk management and also aspects such as the bank's strategy, quality of management and the market environment in which it operates. This rating is therefore an affirmation of our good asset quality and a reflection of the confidence that is shared by both our retail and wholesale customers."
Fitch made a special mention of Bank Sohar's sound asset quality. They said that Bank Sohar consistently had shown one of the lowest non-performing loan ratios among other banks in Oman as well as a very strong reserve coverage. Stability of asset quality has always been a high priority for Bank Sohar. The rating agency highlighted that loans and deposits had grown in a balanced way, and that the cost of funding had decreased, thus increasing the profitability of the bank. Bank Sohar has managed to gain a market share of about 9.0 per cent since it started operations in 2007.
Bank Sohar prides itself in providing technology-enabled solutions for the banking needs of its clients. It also keeps adding new products and services, in line with the needs and aspirations of its clients. A case in point is the recent launch of the Islamic Banking Window, branded as Sohar Islamic that offers Sharia based banking solutions to its clients.
Bank Sohar has also recently been granted an Investment Banking licence and has launched a Private Equity investment vehicle to support the growth of industry and employment in Oman.