Moody’s is keeping its outlook on the Nigerian banking system stable to reflect its resilient capital buffers and stable deposit bases, with high risks likely to subside as the economy is expected to strengthen.

The rating agency stated this in its new report on the African country’s financial institutions.

"Nigerian banks' asset risk and profitability will remain key rating challenges, but we expect these challenges to gradually decline in 2020 as the economy picks up," said Peter Mushangwe, Analyst at Moody's.

"Banks' funding and liquidity profiles will remain stable thanks to solid deposit bases."

The key highlights of its report include the fact that non-performing loans (NPLs) will decline to 7% - 8% over the outlook period from 11.7% at year-end 2018 – but still at a high level; and that system-wide tangible common equity will be stable at 16% of risk-weighted assets at year-end 2018, thereby sufficient to bear losses.

The report also pointed out that “banks revenue will be restrained by subdued loan growth while cost pressures, due to IT investments, an AMCON levy2 and higher staff costs, will slow pre-provision profitability.

“Loan quality pressures will ease but remain banks' main weakness. Nonperforming loans (NPLs) will decline to 7%-8% in the next 12-18 months from 11.7% at the end of 2018 – still a high level. Higher oil prices will constrain new NPL formation while high loan-loss reserves will allow banks to write off some of their bad debts. These credit positives will be moderated by lingering risks from high loan concentrations and high delinquency levels.

“Moody's expects Nigeria's real GDP to expand 2.3% in 2019 and 2.8% in 2020, up from 1.9% last year, but well below the level required to improve living standards. Lending growth will recover in the second half of the year following a contraction in 2018, but it will remain subdued and will not appreciably boost banking revenue,” Moody's Investors Service said in a report published on Tuesday.

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