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12.04.2007 Business & Finance

GCB earns positive rating

By Business & Financial Times

The nation's largest bank, Ghana Commercial Bank's (GCB) efforts to maintain its market leadership has received a major boost with A+ ratings by Global Credit Rating, a highly reputable international rating company.

GCB has received Al + ratings in short term security class, and an AA rating in long term security class respectively.

Banking analysts are of the view that the Bank's 7. 79 trillion cedis balance sheet size played a strong role in its assessment coupled with the fact that the bank has its 133 branches all networked.

Another issue that was considered is the fact that despite a shift in its portfolio mix towards risk assets, the Bank remains well-capitalised.

For instance, in response to a fall in investment returns, GCB last year had to restructure its asset portfolio and place more emphasis on the creation of loan assets as against investment assets.

This explains why the bank had to increase its loan assets by 24.6%. Analysts have described the rating as 'a piece of welcome news' since it would put the bank in a better stead so far as its stakeholders are concerned.

"A formal rating provides an independent and internationally recognised measurement of an organisation's financial strength," one analyst explained.
The results of the rating could not have come at a better time. GCB is currently embarking on a rights issue, where 75 million new shares are being issued at 6.OOO cedis per share, a discount to the current price of 6,700 cedis.

Analysts say the news of GCB's ratings will positively impact on the rights issue.
"Quite apart from the rating, the process provides a useful tool for management with the benefit of a knowledgeable third party opinion on the organisation and its operations," another analyst explained.
GCB's liquidity position was rated as sound, while liquidity risk is further enhanced by the Bank's stable and well-diversified retail deposit base. Also considered are the Bank's efforts to enhance efficiency through investing in IT systems and staff.

Since its inception in 1953, the Bank has focused on commercial banking offering a broad range of retail banking products. However, following the introduction of universal banking licenses in the country during the year 2003, GCB aims to develop the requisite in order to gain a presence in the merchant and investment banking markets.

In addition to networking, all its 133 branches, the Bank supplement its branches with 5o ATMs, which are expected to be increased to 100 this year.

To compete with a select number of banks that offer electronic cards and payment systems and collection platforms to clients, GCB intends to issue branded cards soon.

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