Pan African rating agency, GCR Ratings (GCR) has affirmed Ecobank Ghana’s national scale A+ long-term and A1 short-term issuer credit ratings, with a stable outlook.
The ratings, which factored in improving capitalisation and improving asset quality risk, reflect a strong business profile supported by leading market shares, stable funding sources and good levels of liquidity.
The bank’s competitive position is strong, with a cost of funds of less than 2%, benefiting from being part of the broader Ecobank Transnational Incorporated’s (“ETI”) group, which owns 68.93% of the bank’s shares.
ETI is a pan-African conglomerate with banking operations spanning over 33 countries.
Ecobank Ghana’s approximate market share for deposits in full-year 2021 stood at 13.2% (FY20: 13.1%), while the gross advances market share stood at 11.0% (FY20: 10.4%), supporting its solid domestic footprint. The bank’s revenue is stable, supported by a healthy internal capital generation of 29% in FY21(FY20:35%).
Total operating revenue grew from 985m in June 2021, to 1.186 billion in June 2022. The growth was mainly driven by net interest income and general banking fees. The cost-to-income ratio stood at 46% in June 2022, in comparison to 39.6% in June 2021.
Ecobank Ghana is adequately capitalised, with a GCR capital ratio of 20.6% on 31 December 2021 (FY20:18.6%), while also reporting a CAR above the D-SIB minimum regulatory requirement of 15%.
However, the bank’s CAR ratio dipped to 16% in June 2022, largely due to the single large dividend paid once a year, albeit it only will reflect in the third quarter of 2022.
The GCR capital ratio is expected to be around 20% by the end of the year.
Although the bank’s asset quality has come under pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NPL ratio improved from 8% at June 2021 to 5% in June 2022.
However, 20% of the NPLs have been restructured as certain sectors were hit hard by the pandemic, namely construction, real estate, and hospitality sectors.
The bank’s gross loan and advances increased from 5.3billion in 2020 to 6.2billion in 2021 with loan loss reserves of 531.3million.
“We expect the cost of risk to remain below 10% within the short to medium-term. Concomitantly, the bank’s credit losses have registered at moderate levels of below 5% historically, and we expect them to remain the same in the next 12-18 months. Foreign currency (FCY) loans accounted for 31.9% of gross loans and advances in 2022 (FY20: 34.6%), with most of the facilities extended to the manufacturing sector, constituting 19.2% of the bank’s loan book”, GCR said.
“We also note the rising risk of the Ghanaian sovereign. In the unanticipated event of a sovereign default and haircut of local currency government debt, there could be significant capital erosion across the banking sector. Positively, sovereign debt accounts for 12.3% of total assets for Ecobank Ghana”, it added.
Funding sources are relatively stable, supported by the bank’s strong retail footprint. The GCR long-term funding ratio and stable funding ratios were 112% (FY21: 108%) and 88% (FY21: 84%) on 30 June 2022 respectively.
A large portion of the funding consists of customer deposits as the core deposit ratio stood at 91% on 31 December 2021. The bank’s liquidity is adequate as the bank has a high liquid asset coverage of wholesale funding of 541.2% in June 2022.
The GCR liquid assets over deposits stood at 73% in June 2022. The standalone ratings are effectively capped by the credit profile of the group, as reflected in the negative adjustment to the standalone risk score.
GCR Rating said the outlook of Ecobank is stable due to decent liquidity and adequate capitalisation.
Despite the turbulent operating environment, it is expected that the entity will remain resilient even if the asset quality deteriorates.