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Capital Intelligence maintains Amen Bank's ratings, lifts outlook.

BANKING AND CREDIT NEWS-25 February 2010-Capital Intelligence maintains Amen Bank's ratings, lifts outlook(C)1994-2010 M2 COMMUNICATIONS

25 February 2010 - Capital Intelligence has reiterated its long-term BB- and short-term foreign currency ratings, as well as the BB- financial strength rating (FSR) of Tunisian Amen Bank (TUN:AB).

The agency also decided to maintain the lender's support rating at 4.

Simultaneously, Capital Intelligence upgraded to "stable" from "negative" the outlook on the bank's long-term rating and FSR, citing its improved financial position with regard to asset quality, capital adequacy and profitability.

Amen Bank was founded in 1971 as Credit Foncier et Commercial de Tunisie. Private Tunisian interests account for 99.76% of its ownership.

Its principal shareholder is the reputable Ben Yedder family, whose ownership of the bank through several vehicles constitutes a controlling interest.

Amen Bank maintains a good position in the Tunisian banking sector, controlling around 9% of banking sector assets. Over the last couple of years, Amen has improved its loan asset quality through a reduction in the level of non-performing loans and an increase in the provisioning coverage.

However, more still needs to be done to improve both to more satisfactory levels.

A recent capital increase in late 2009 through a long-term subordinated issue has strengthened the bank's capital adequacy position.

The gap between bad loans and loan-loss provisions has narrowed but needs to fall further.

Amen Bank's liquidity position is considered adequate, balancing a high proportion of loans relative to total assets against a good base of customer deposits and a reasonable level of liquid assets.

Amen Bank's net profit performance to end-June 2009 was good with stronger levels of net interest and non-interest income.

This improved performance in the first half of 2009 was achieved despite lower growth in the Tunisian economy.

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Publication:M2 Banking & Credit News (BCN)
Date:Feb 25, 2010
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