Morocco: Fitch issues new alert on local banks’ quality and equity

Mar 13, 2019 | Agence Ecofin

In its analytical note published on March 8, 2019, Fitch Ratings once again insisted on the quality and level of equity of banks operating in Morocco.

The rating agency estimated that the average of 10% assigned to bad debts in the country is far from the truth and that a careful analysis would reveal a higher average. According to Fitch Ratings, the risks are bigger for banks in an expansion phase due to the weak banking regulations in those African markets where they are going into. Fitch indicates however that these risks are mitigated either by the Moroccan government, shareholders or local subsidiaries of foreign banks operating in the country.
 
Attijariwafa bank, one of the groups mentioned in the report explains that the various risks mentioned by Fitch are accounted for, risks of expansion notably. "Safety cushions above the regulatory minimum in terms of liquid assets and equity capital are defined according to each subsidiary's risk profile," Rachid Kettani, the group’s chief financial officer, indicated in an interview with Ecofin Agency in March 2018.
 
A similar response was provided by Banque Centrale Populaire group to the risk views stated by Moody’s on its African expansion. "The management of operating risks and operating costs optimization are part of the traditional theme carefully considered in the daily management of international subsidiaries and the implementation of the new acquisitions’ strategic integration projects," the manager said.

The Moroccan central bank has always been dynamic in its responses to the expansion risks taken by banks operating in the local market. It defends the solidity of its banking system but acknowledges that there should be changes in the bank’s financial reporting.