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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 23 July 2018

Moody's affirms Islamic Development Bank's AAA rating with stable outlook

A faster than expected increase in borrowings could push the Jeddah-based bank's rating down 

Bandar Hajjar, president of the Islamic Development Bank. Moody's has affirmed the bank's AAA rating. Photo: Layton Thompson
Bandar Hajjar, president of the Islamic Development Bank. Moody's has affirmed the bank's AAA rating. Photo: Layton Thompson

Moody's Investors Service has affirmed the Islamic Development Bank's AAA rating with a stable outlook, the credit-rating agency said on Saturday.

The AAA-rating is based on the bank's strong capital base, Moody's said in a statement.

"The Islamic Development Bank benefits from a strong liquidity position, and is considered a benchmark issuer within the global sukuk market," Moody's said. "It is a benchmark issuer within the Islamic finance world, being one of the few AAA-rated issuers. Given the scarcity of high-quality, Shariah-compliant securities, the bank's sukuks have always found strong demand."

The Jeddah lender, a multilateral development bank with a subscribed capital of $33 billion, is part of the Islamic banking industry that has grown at a double-digit rate over the last decade, reaching $3.5 trillion last year alone. Sukuk - an Islamic bond, structured to generate returns for investors while adhering to Sharia, which prohibits taking interest - is a key part of the Islamic finance system. Total international sukuk issuances reached $95bn in 2017, after achieving $85bn the year before.

Islamic Development Bank's stable outlook is based on the expectation that its risk profile is likely to remain "very strong" over the medium term even as its capital base expands, Moody's said in the statement.

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The bank, the largest development organisation in the Muslim world, will "soon" launch a $2.5bn sukuk, Reuters reported in March.

Earlier this year, the bank launched a new fund to provide seed money to innovative start-ups and SMEs, helping them implement development projects related to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

Transform fund, which has a target capital of $500 million, will run in tandem with a new online hub called Engage, designed to connect innovators to each other and assist them in developing their ideas.

Moody's said that several factors may affect the lender's stable outlook.

"A faster than expected increase in borrowings would undermine the IDB's capital adequacy ratios and would lead to downward pressure on the rating. Similarly, downward rating pressure would emerge in case of rating downgrades of key shareholders," Moody's said.

The bank has pledged $750m as part of an $11bn pledge for Lebanon at a conference in Paris as global institutions jostled for influence in a country that has borne much of the weight of the conflict in Syria.