x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Shuaa breaks even but remains on shaky ground

Shuaa Capital, the Dubai-based investment bank, has emerged from the third quarter of this year in the black reversing losses made during the same period last year.

Shuaa Capital, the investment bank based in Dubai, has broken even in the last quarter despite reduced activity in its brokerage business.

The bank posted net income of Dh180,000 (US$49,010), compared with a net loss of Dh269.7 million in the third quarter last year.

However, traders warned that profits were still fragile and could be reversed by the end the year. Shuaa Capital has made a loss in five of the previous eight quarters.

"They're gradually coming out of the woods," said John Tofarides, a financial analyst at Moody's, the credit ratings agency.

"But I think there's still much room to go in terms of improving profitability."

However, Mr Tofarides said the bank may encounter difficulties as it sought to increase profits.

"The general environment for investment banking in the region isn't very positive at the moment," he said. "They've got things in the pipeline, but market conditions are not healthy."

He said Moody's had given Shuaa Capital a stable "Ba2" rating because of its high level of capitalisation.

Majid al Ghurair, the chairman of Shuaa Capital, said: "Recording a profit, albeit small, is an important achievement in an extremely challenging environment characterised by the lowest market activity since 2004."

The turnaround was driven by a reversal of losses from "other investments", which turned a profit of Dh6.2m this quarter, up from a loss of Dh254m in the same quarter last year.

A company spokesman said those profits resulted from investments not managed by Shuaa. The results were also buoyed by the investment banking division, which recorded a profit of Dh2.9m, an increase of 625 per cent on the same period last year.

However, Shuaa Securities, the bank's brokerage division, recorded a loss of Dh3.7m, down from a profit of Dh4.5m in the same period last year. Revenues plunged 60.5 per cent to Dh5.8m.

"The third-quarter results were at least positive and not a loss. That should give investors some comfort," said Marwan Shurrab, a fund manager at Gulfmena Alternative Investments.

"They're repositioning and focusing on mainly fee-generating operations. They're on the right track."

However, Mr Shurrab said there were still some concerns because the bank was registering a year-to-date loss of Dh36.9m.

"The fourth quarter is going to be monitored heavily to see if this is still sustainable," he said, adding that historic lows in market volume could test the bank's profitability. High volumes "are not coming back yet", he said.

The bank's shares held steady for the third day at Dh1.17, having fallen back from a peak of Dh1.25 on November 1.