Bahrain's Ithmaar Holding mulls sale of non-core businesses as it swings to first half loss

Company says its accumulated losses at the end of first six months climbed to $795.6m, about 105% of its share capital

M5M0KT Skyline of Manama dominated by the World Trade Center Building. Bahrain
Powered by automated translation

Ithmaar Holding swung to a net loss for the first half of 2020 amid the pandemic, increasing its accumulated losses and prompting the Bahrain-listed financial services company to consider either a sale or restructuring of its non-core assets.

The company declared a net loss attributable to equity holders of the company for the six months to June 30 of $1.29 million (Dh4.64m), compared to a net profit of $8.37m in the same period last year, the company said in a statement on Sunday to the Bahrain Bourse, where its shares trade.

Accumulated losses at the end of the first half climbed to $795.6m, about 105 per cent of the company’s share capital, compared to 98.5 per cent reported at the end of 2019.

Ithmaar's board is now “working on various initiatives to improve the capital, which will strengthen the company’s consolidated equity, including the possible sale or restructuring of non-core assets”, the company said in the filing.

“The company also remains committed to realising its long-term objectives of growing its core retail banking business, while facilitating the sale of underlying, non-core assets of its subsidiaries when suitable opportunities arise.”

Any potential sale would be subject to necessary regulatory approvals, it said without specifying which of its assets it plans to sell or restructure.

Ithmaar’s interests span financial services, real estate and insurance sectors and its assets include Ithmaar Bank and Bahrain Bank Kuwait (BBK) in Bahrain, Faysal Bank in Pakistan, developer Ithmaar Development, infrastructure specialist Naseej and Sharia-compliant insurer Solidarity Group, among others.

Ithmaar said its total owners’ equity at $8.80m at the end of the first half has dropped 90.8 per cent from the end of December 2019, mainly due to “the dramatic economic slowdown caused by the Covid-19 pandemic”.

Companies around the world have seen revenues and profitability come under pressure during the pandemic. Global banks, airlines, oil and gas companies and major corporations in retail, hospitality and tourism have all looked to minimise their cost base and considered divesting some non-core businesses to generate much needed cash to stabilise their capital base during the crisis.