Arab Banking Corp., the lender part- owned by the Central Bank of Libya, used a New York branch to get 73 loans from the U.S. Federal Reserve in the 18 months after Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. collapsed.
The bank, then 29 percent-owned by the Libyan state, had aggregate borrowings in that period of $35 billion -- while the largest single loan amount outstanding was $1.2 billion in July 2009, according to Fed data released yesterday. In October 2008, when lending to financial institutions by the central bank’s so- called discount window peaked at $111 billion, Arab Banking took repeated loans totaling more than $2 billion.
“ABC has a robust balance sheet, is amply capitalized and currently maintains a comfortable liquidity position,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “ABC currently has no outstanding loans under any Federal Reserve, or other, emergency lending program.”
Arab Banking reported a loss of $880 million in 2008 as it took a $1.1 billion charge tied to structured investment vehicles and derivative products known as collateralized debt obligations. Arab Banking recovered during the next two years, posting profits totaling $265 million.
Libya previously shared the bank with the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and the Kuwait Investment Authority, both sovereign investment funds. The Libyan Central Bank bought out the Abu Dhabi stake in 2010 and took majority control, which prompted Fitch Ratings in December to downgrade Arab Banking’s credit rating.
In March, after the U.S. froze Libya’s assets, Fitch downgraded the bank’s credit rating again, this time to “junk” status. Contracts to protect Arab Banking’s debt, which typically rise as investor confidence deteriorates, increased by 186 basis points to 500 during March. A basis point equals $1,000 annually on a contract protecting $10 million of debt.
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