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Fitch downgrades Gulf International Bank

Fitch Ratings on March 30 downgraded Gulf International Bank BSC's long-term issuer default rating and senior unsecured debt rating to BBB+ from A-.

The outlook on the long-term issuer default rating is stable. The rating agency also affirmed the Bahraini bank's short-term issuer default rating at F2 and downgraded its support rating to 2 from 1.

The ratings actions followed Fitch's recent downgrade of Saudi Arabia's sovereign credit ratings. Though based and licensed in Bahrain, Gulf International Bank is 97.2%-owned by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, making its long-term issuer default rating in line with that of smaller Saudi-based lenders.

The downgrade reflects Fitch's expectation of a lower but still high probability of support from the Saudi fund. The rating agency does not factor any Bahraini sovereign support in the ratings of local wholesale banks, including Gulf International Bank.