UPDATE 2-UAE cenbank meets banks to assess Saudi exposure

Thu Jul 16, 2009 4:53am EDT

* Meeting to review exposure to Saad, Algosaibi

* Banker says will be action-taking meeting

(Recasts with banking sources confirming meeting, changes dateline to ABU DHABI from DUBAI)

ABU DHABI, July 16 (Reuters) - The central bank for the United Arab Emirates was meeting commercial banks on Thursday to assess potential problems due to lending to two troubled Saudi family conglomerates, bankers said.

"The meeting is on the invitation of the central bank, mainly to review exposure of UAE banks to the Saad/Algosaibi groups," an Abu Dhabi-based banker, who is attending the meeting, told Reuters.

Emirates Business (www.business24-7.ae) reported on Thursday the central bank aimed to devise an action plan for the banks, about 25 of whom face potential losses from lending to Saudi family firms Ahmad Hamad Algosaibi and Bros Group (AHAB) and Saad Group [SAADG.UL].

The paper cited one banking source.

The central bank held a meeting with banks on the topic last month, the banker told Reuters.

"It is going to be an action-taking meeting," another banker said.

Regulators and bankers alike are grappling with the fall-out from debt restructuring at Saad Group and Algosaibi, seen as the biggest blow to hit the Gulf region since the start of the financial crisis.

Numerous Gulf Arab banks have said they face potential writedowns on loans made to the groups, and HSBC has estimated the lending exposure of Saudi banks alone at $4-$7 billion [ID:nL8448580].

In the UAE, at least five banks, including Mashreqbank MASB.DU, National Bank of Abu Dhabi NBAD.AD and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank ADCB.AD, have exposure to the Saudi firms, according to banking sources or the banks themselves. (Reporting by Stanley Carvalho, writing by Raissa Kasolowsky; editing by Sue Thomas)