UAE banks boosted their foreign assets by a staggering Dh22 billion in October and more than half the increase was in their deposits with banks abroad, according to the central bank.
From Dh226.2 billion at the end of September, the total foreign assets of the country’s 51 banks jumped to Dh248.3 billion at the end of October, one their highest levels, the central bank said in its October statistics bulletin.
It was the largest increase in the banks’ foreign assets in more than two years and indicated they are turning abroad for investment to offset a sharp slowdown in domestic credit as part of their post-crisis credit tightness.
A breakdown showed their deposits with banks abroad shot up by nearly Dh13 billion to around Dh86.6 billion at the end of October from Dh73.5 billion at the end of September. Their funds due from headquarters and branches also soared to around Dh36.7 billion from nearly Dh27.6 billion.
Loans and advances to overseas banks grew by Dh2 billion to Dh64.6 billion from Dh62.6 billion but their investments in foreign securities slipped to around Dh48.2 billion from Dh49.2 billion in the same period.
By the end of October, the UAE’s 23 national banks and 28 foreign units have boosted their combined foreign assets by nearly Dh40 billion compared with the end of 2009, when they stood at Dh208.1 billion, the central bank said.
Foreign liabilities remained almost unchanged at around Dh266.7 billion while deposits of foreign financial institutions with UAE banks edged down slightly to around Dh56.4 billion from Dh57.5 billion following a rise in the previous month.
Such deposits had hit an all-time high of more than Dh175 billion at the end of 2008 when foreign banks poured funds into the UAE on speculation the central bank was about to appreciate the dirham against the US dollar.
Repeated denials of such plans by the UAE pushed most of them to siphon out most of their funds, known as “hot money”.
The central bank report showed the UAE’s total foreign assets, covering those of the banks and the central bank, surged to around Dh359.1 billion at the end of October from Dh321.3 billion at the end of September.
Foreign liabilities remained around Dh267 billion and this largely widened the country’s net asset position to 91.7 billion from Dh54.3 billion.