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Omani banks well-positioned to absorb external shocks: Fitch

25 May 2024 By GULAM ALI KHAN

Muscat – Omani banks’ reasonable credit fundamentals and improved operating conditions will enable them to withstand potential external shocks in 2024, according to a recent report by Fitch Ratings.

The report highlighted that the Omani banking sector’s continued stability provides banks with headroom to absorb potential moderate shocks arising from heightened geopolitical tensions in the region.

Fitch Ratings said that the high energy prices and the country’s diversification strategy to boost the non-oil economy continue to support economic growth in the sultanate.

Omani banks’ asset quality, according to Fitch, is expected to improve slightly over 2024 due to favorable operating conditions, and write-offs will likely reduce the sector’s impaired loans ratio.

‘We have reassessed asset quality risks and expect asset quality metrics will improve slightly over 2024 owing to favourable operating conditions, while write-offs will reduce the sector impaired loans ratio,’ Fitch noted.

The rating agency acknowledged that the vast majority of restructured loans in Oman, which accounted for 10% of total sector loans at the end of 2023, are in Stage 2 and adequately covered. Fitch does not anticipate any significant migration to Stage 3, despite remaining pressures on the real-estate, construction, and hospitality sectors.

However, the rating agency cautioned that the Omani banks are exposed to event risk due to high single-obligor concentrations, which is largely unavoidable given the narrow nature of the domestic economy.

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