By Omodele Adigun with agency report
THE global rating agency, Fitch Ratings, has affirmed the  relative creditworthiness of eight Nigerian banks following its downgrade of the country’s long-term local currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘B+’ from ‘BB-’.
The banks are First Bank of Nigeria (FBN), United Bank for Africa (UBA), Fidelity Bank , Diamond Bank, First City Monument Bank (FCMB), Union Bank, Stanbic IBTC Bank (SIBTC) and Bank of Industry (BOI) as well as the bank holding company Stanbic IBTC Holdings (SIBTCH).
The rating actions follow Fitch’s downgrade of Nigeria’s Long-Term Local Currency Issuer Default Rating (IDR) to ‘B+’ from ‘BB-’, as a result of which it is now equalised with the Long-Term Foreign Currency IDR. In a report released late Friday in London, the rating agency said the action was driven by the change in its sovereign rating criteria.
The implication of the rating agency action, particularly for the banks is that though Nigeria may be having challenges in the country’s ability to service debts due to dwindling dollar revenue, the same may not be applicable to the rated banks, which from time to time seek  loans from both international and local investors in form of credit facilities from correspondent banks offshore and investments such as Eurobond, private placement, public offer or rights issue.

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