FirstCaribbean’s rating stable

The ratings agency, Standard & Poor’s, has confirmed FirstCaribbean International Bank’s credit rating of ‘A- stable’.

This credit rating is one of the strongest in the region, and the strongest of any financial institution, with the exception of the Caribbean Development Bank, states a press release.

The report says that FirstCaribbean has been able to retain this attractive rating, based on its regional infrastructure, which, the rating agency considers, has given the Bank a competitive advantage over other regional players.

Standard & Poor’s also made favourable mention of FirstCaribbean’s diversification; its strong market share in the 16 Caribbean countries in which it operates; its good financial condition; its prudent management of credit risk; and the success of its now-concluded integration programme.

According to Standard & Poor’s FirstCaribbean’s achievements come against a background of strong regional competition, and a relative lack of economic diversity in the region.

Standard & Poor’s was complimentary of FirstCaribbean’s leadership team, which it described, as professional, and with ‘a good banking and regional experience’. The recently-published Standard & Poor’s report noted that FirstCaribbean management ‘should be able further strengthen the bank’s regional presence.

‘The strategy aims to offer a wide palette of banking services for both individuals and corporations within the Caribbean region under a homogeneous product and service culture. Products, delivery channels, policies, and procedures have all been harmonized to expand operations under one platform and one brand.’

The report spoke well of the bank’s financial performance in the last financial year. ‘FirstCaribbean posted good financial results at fiscal year-end October 2004, reporting ROE of 7.3 per cent (11.3 per cent on tangible equity) and ROA of 1 per cent. Despite stiff competition, the bank was able to achieve double-digit growth on its loan book, with important increments in the retail segment.

The bank’s balance sheet continues to be highly liquid, with liquid assets representing around 40 per cent of total assets. This balance sheet structure allows flexibility to manage growth and country concentrations. Taking into account the bank’s strong market position, the track record if its predecessors, and management’s plans, FirstCaribbean is expected to build further a good capacity to generate earnings from both traditional domestic banking activities and offshore operations, in addition to an efficient cost structure.’

‘We are heartened and proud that our credit rating has been confirmed. Our goal has been to build a bank that will live up to its brand promise of ‘Caribbean pride, international strength, and partnership with our various stakeholders,’ said FirstCaribbean’s Chief Executive Officer, Charles Pink. ‘We are proud of FirstCaribbean, and independent recognition of our achievements, such as this, increases that pride. I am fortunate to lead an excellent team, not only within our management ranks, but also throughout all levels of FirstCaribbean. This affirmation of the quality of their performance is a testament to their commitment to taking FirstCaribbean even further on its journey to being the bank of choice in the Caribbean.’

FirstCaribbean is the result of the combination of two complementary and leading financial services businesses in the Caribbean – CIBC West Indies Holdings Limited and Barclays Bank PLC. FirstCaribbean aims to offer its customers enhanced products and improved and extended access to banking services. FirstCaribbean focuses on the needs of the businesses and people of the Caribbean while delivering the global reach of its founding institutions. FirstCaribbean is the largest locally listed bank in the Caribbean based on a market capitalization of US $2.4 billion. FirstCaribbean currently serves 15 countries, from Belize, to The Bahamas to Barbados. It has 100 retail branches, corporate and international banking centres; some US $9 billion in assets; 3,100 staff; and over 700,000 active accounts. From inception, the Bank has been rate as ‘A- Stable’ by Standard & Poor’s – the highest rating of any commercial bank in the English-speaking Caribbean. In 2004, FirstCaribbean was named as ‘Bank of the Year’ by The Banker magazine and ‘Best Emerging Market Bank’ by Global Finance magazine.

More information about FirstCaribbean can be found at: