On July 21, 2021, Fitch Ratings revised APB's long-term credit rating by one level to B +, the outlook is stable. The rating upgrade is due to the strengthening of the Bank's position in the market, improvement of assets quality and sustainable profitability followed by balance-sheet clean-up. The Bank has successfully coped with the impact of the pandemic.
The agency notes the growing financial and operational efficiency of the Bank in combination with maintaining a stable position in the Far East and a relatively low cost of funding that is reflected in the 'b +' viability rating.
The impaired loans ratio decreased to 12% at end-1Q21 from a high 28% at end-2019 and 43% at end-2018. Operating expenses also decreased in Q1. 2021 to 51% (from 63% in 2020). Loan impairment charges were at a low level of 3.6% in Q1. 2021, meaning the bank showed a good return on average equity of 14% in 1Q21 (annualized) up from 12% last year.
The upgrade by Fitch reflects the successful implementation of APB's strategy. The Bank's current business model ensures stable financial result even in the face of new challenges. We will continue improving the operational efficiency of our bank, while maintaining a high-quality portfolio and adequate risk assessment, - commented Aleksey Korovin, Chairman of the Management Board of APB.