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S&P acts on Saudi Arabian lenders

Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on March31 lowered to BBB+ from A- the long-term counterparty credit ratings on , , , and Al Rajhi Banking & Investment Corp..

The long-term ratings on National Commercial Bank,Al Rajhi Banking & Investment, Samba Financial Group and Riyad Bank were removedfrom CreditWatch with negative implications.

The outlooks on the ratings are stable.

Additionally, the A-2 short-term counterparty creditratings on the five banks as well as on SaudiInvestment Bank, ArabNational Bank and BanqueSaudi Fransi were affirmed.

The rating agency assessed the stand-alone creditprofile of the eight lenders at "bbb," while affirming the long-term counterpartycredit ratings on Arab National Bank and Banque Saudi Fransi at BBB+, and on SaudiInvestment Bank at BBB.

According to S&P, Saudi lenders are facinghigher economic risks as a result of the fall in oil prices and the ensuing economicslowdown. The agency expects that credit conditions for the lenders will deterioratethrough a correction cycle, leading to a rise in nonperforming loans and creditlosses, and a fall in profitability.

The agency revised its banking industry countryrisk assessment on Saudi Arabia to group 4 from group 3 on a scale of 1 to 10, withgroup 10 indicating the highest-risk banking systems.

S&PRatings and S&P Global Market Intelligence are owned by McGraw Hill FinancialInc.