Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Islamic Banks, Conventional Banks, Basel III Capital Standards
This study is a commentary on the financialperformance and quality capital of Islamic versus conventional banks currentlyoperating in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) region. In addition toassessing the financial performance of the full set of banks across various GCCcountries, the study is the first toconsider the extent to which Islamic vs.conventional GCC banks comply with the new Basel III requirements of raising betterquality capital. The study uses bank-level data for 75 (55 conventionaland 20 Islamic) banks in Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,Oman, Qatar, and Bahrain. Financial ratios are used tomeasure and compare Islamic vs. conventional banks performances, and weemploy a comprehensive and the most recent sample of data available in the region, consisting of cross-sections from 2003 to 2011.The results reveal that Islamic banks are, onaverage, less efficient but more profitable, more liquid, more solvent (lessrisky), and enjoyed higher internal growth rates than conventional banks during2003-2011. The results indicate that there are statistically significant differencesbetween the two types of banks, as far as profitability, solvency, and internalgrowth rate ratios are concerned; however, there are no statisticallysignificant differences in liquidity and efficiency. The results also indicatethat banks, as a whole, appear to be largely sufficiently capitalized for BaselIII. Gulf Cooperation Council banks are well positioned to absorb higherprovisions and impairment charges given the higher capital adequacy ratiosreported by most. The Common Equity Ratio, Tier 1 Capital Ratio, and Capital AdequacyRatios (CARs), for the majority of banks in 2011, comfortably satisfy theenhanced capital requirements of Basel III. The results show that Islamic bankshave, on average, noticeably higher (and significantly different) capitalratios compared to conventional institutions. With regard to theimpact of the global financial crisis on both types of the banks, the resultsindicate that Islamic banks performed better thanconventional banks during the period 2006-2009, as the former enjoys highercapitalization, higher liquidity reserves, and also maintained stronger growthcompared to conventional banks in almost countries.Findings of this study may be useful for capital-market participants, as the full set of banks across various Gulf Cooperation Councilcountries needs to be examined before any substantive conclusions can bereached about the relative performance of Islamic versus conventional banks.Further, as the full implementation of Basel III requirements will not takeplace until 2019, the results of this study will convey information that shouldencourage banks to consider the earlier implementation of Basel III capitalrequirements in order to provide themselves with a reputational boost, as wellas a competitive advantage.