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A Closer Look at the Iraqi Banking Sector
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Sansar Capital Management, LLC, 2013, SOURCE LINK
The Iraqi banking sector is poised for significant earnings and asset growth over the next decade driven by a strong macro environment, increasing credit penetration and an improving security situation.
The IMF forecasts Iraqi GDP to grow at a rate of 9.0% in 2013 on the back of 8.4% growth in 2012 placing Iraq solidly in the category of one of the fastest growing economies in the world.1
KEEP IN MIND, the IMF determines a country's exchange rate by the country's GDP ~ RED LILY ~
The IEA in its World Energy Outlook report stated that Iraq is expected to contribute 45% of the global incremental oil supply over this decade.2 As a result, the IEA central scenario forecast predicts Iraq GDP to grow 151% between 2011 to 2020.2
WOW!! 45% is almost HALF!! Can you imagine the money?? Hang in there.. I don't care how long it takes. (Even though I need it now) ~ RED LILY ~
Rising credit penetration is likely to further fuel banking sector growth. According to the World Bank, Iraqi domestic credit to GDP stood at a mere 9 percent of GDP at the end of 2011 as compared to a 55 percent of GDP average for the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region.3 Domestic credit to GDP grew at a clip of 89 percent CAGR between 2009-2011. 3
Buoyed by strong economic growth and rising credit penetration, the 5 largest private Iraqi banks grew aggregate net income by 207% between 2010-2012. Dilution driven by increases in equity capital resulted in earnings-per-share growth to be lower but still impressive with aggregate EPS growth of 111% from 2010-2012.4
The growth in GDP and banking sector earnings go hand-in-hand with the improving security situation.
As violence declined by over 80% between 2006-2012, Iraqis in many parts of the country enjoyed relative calm and stability.5 In 2012, large U.S. cities like Chicago and New Orleans had higher violence related deaths per capita when compared to Iraq.6 That is not to say all areas in Iraq are safe. Violence in Iraq remains highly localized with 91% of the violence related deaths occurring in 7 of the 18 provinces and 2/3 of the violence being inflicted on 1/3 of the population.5 The remaining 11 provinces, including the southern oil-rich provinces, have had relative security and stability.
While the mix of an improving macro environment and security situation offer attractive investment ingredients, many challenges remain for those interested in participating through public markets.
Iraq continues to be ranked as one of the most difficult places to conduct business and is often ranked high on corruption indices. 7
IMO, this has to change and may take years. They know no other way but to fight each other. Let's pray things will finally click in their heads as it relates to what Democracy truly means.
Corporate governance at most publicly traded companies is poor and regulatory oversight weak;
PUBLICLY TRADED COMPANIES is their ISX IMO.. We want to see this take off!!!
anecdotal examples of management teams serving their own self-interest at the expense of other stakeholders remain abundant. In such an environment, investors are cautioned to carry out extensive due-diligence including having on the ground presence in Iraq.
Methodology In this paper we examine the Iraqi private bank sector through the lens of the five largest private banks by deposits.
These banks in order are North Bank (BNOR), Bank of Baghdad (BBOB), Iraqi Middle East Investment Bank (BIME), Kurdistan International Bank (BKUI) and Dar Es Salaam Investment Bank (BDSI).
We note that Kurdistan International Bank is an Islamic bank and as such we have excluded it from most charts as we do not believe the numbers for Kurdistan International Bank are comparable on an apples-to-apples basis with the other four banks.
We also note that we have used the latest available data wherever possible. Hence while some charts and tables will have data from 2012 others will go back to 2010. This inconsistency in dates was inevitable given a lack of more updated data in many cases.
We also note that Investment Funds advised by Sansar Capital may hold positions in banks or their competitors discussed herein. Readers should therefore beware of potential conflicts and also refer to the Important Disclaimers section of this paper.
This report would not have been possible without the input and support of many of our friends and colleagues. In particular we want to thank Wassim Al Jzrawy at Karmal Brokerage who was tremendously helpful in providing keen insights into individual Iraqi companies and facilitating access to information that has been used throughout this report. Taimur Baig at Deutsche Bank provided us with valuable input on macro-economic drivers and their impact on the overall economy. Finally, Timothy Moe at Goldman Sachs provided critical eyes to our analysis and assumptions.
This report is prepared and published by Sansar Capital Asia Pte. Ltd. and Sansar Capital Management, LLC (together, “Sansar Capital”), an investment adviser advising clients with diversified global holdings, for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast or as investment advice. Nothing contained herein constitutes a solicitation, recommendation, endorsement, or offer by Sansar Capital to buy, sell or hold any securities or other financial instruments or to pursue any investment style or strategy. All investments involve risks which are not discussed here.
The opinions expressed herein are as of the date of the publication and may change as subsequent conditions vary. Therefore, Sansar Capital makes no representations that any information provided herein is accurate, current, or complete. Please refer to the important information disclosures and qualifications at the end of this material.
Iraq: A Quick Glance
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Accelerating GDP Growth: The IMF forecasts Iraq’s GDP to grow by 9% in 2013 on the back of 8.4% growth in 2012. The forecast for the medium-term anticipates Iraqi GDP to grow at a CAGR of 8.3% through 2018 placing Iraq solidly in the category of one of the fastest growing economies in the world.1
Higher Oil Production: Underlying the economic growth forecast is a large increase in oil production. The IEA forecasts Iraq to provide 45% of the global incremental oil supply in this decade. In its central case, the IEA estimates that by the 2030s, Iraq will be the second-largest oil exporter in the world.2
Improving Security: Violence in Iraq has significantly declined over the last several years. In 2012, large US cities like New Orleans and Chicago had higher violence related deaths per capita when compared to Iraq. Violence in Iraq remains highly localized however with 91% of deaths occurring in 7 out of the 18 provinces.5, 6
Corruption: Despite all the improvements in security and GDP, Iraq struggles with a high level of systemic corruption and is often ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world.7
Overview of the Banking Sector
Iraq remains one of the most under-banked countries in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region and by some estimates over 80% of Iraqis do not have a bank account.8
Credit to GDP remains one of the lowest in the region and the world with domestic-credit to private sector at 9 percent of GDP as compared to a 55 percent of GDP average for the MENA region.9
As relative stability and calm have returned to Iraq, the commercial banks have seen a significant growth in their businesses. According to Central Bank of Iraq data, cash credit, such as loans and overdraft facilities, have grown at an impressive CAGR of 50% from 2006-2011.
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Sources: World Bank 9, Central Bank of Iraq 10, Despite the impressive growth, Iraqi private banks will have to overcome some important challenges if they are to continue their growth at the impressive pace witnessed over the last five years. We believe some of those factors include: accessibility, an uneven playing field and trust.
I. Accessibility – Access to bank branches or ATM machines remains highly limited to the general Iraqi population.
There are approximately 900 bank branches covering a population of 33 million Iraqis equating to just one branch serving 36 thousand individuals.10 ATM machines are also highly limited with World Bank data indicating that there is only one ATM machine for every 100,000 inhabitants.9
The MENA region has on average 32-times more ATM machines per inhabitant.10 The true comparison is even starker when one takes into account that most ATM machines are not connected to the national switch and as such customers of one bank cannot access their funds from ATM machines of another bank.8
There are two important developments on the horizon that we believe could significantly improve access.
The first is the implementation of the National Switch and the second is the establishment of the Iraq Interoperable Mobile Payment System (IIMPS) - both with the help of the USAID’s Iraq Financial Development Project.
NOTE: Research 'National Switch' & 'Iraq Interoperable Mobile Payment System