Standard Chartered annual net profit climbs 12%

29th February 2012, Comments 0 comments

Standard Chartered bank said Wednesday it saw a record net profit of 3.53 billion euros ($4.75 billion) in 2011, boosted by strong performance in developing economies.

The London-based but Asia-focused bank said the net profit figure was up 12 percent from the year before, thanks to operating income of $17.64 billion.

In a notification to the Hong Kong stock exchange, it said annual profit before tax came to $6.78 billion, up 11 percent year on year.

Consumer banking revenue jumped 12 percent while wholesale banking revenue grew nine percent. Bad debt charges were flat.

It was the ninth successive year of record income and profit as continued strong performances in developing markets offset woes in under-pressure Western economies that are struggling to recover from the global financial crisis.

"Taken as a whole, emerging Asia should continue to grow at mid- to high single-digit rates -- slower than before the crisis, but still much faster than the West," Chief Executive Peter Sands said in a statement.

"This sharp polarisation in economic performance and prospects is one reason different banks are in such different positions."

He predicted double-digit income growth in the medium term but warned that an "ever more complex set of regulatory requirements" linked to capital adequacy requirements could act as a "drag" on earnings and costs.

"All of us face the challenge of the ongoing avalanche of regulation. None of us can be complacent about the continuing fragility of the system," Sands said.

Standard Chartered was "supportive" of the Basel III reforms intended to buttress the global financial system against a repeat of the 2007-2008 collapse.

"Yet we worry about the increasing profusion of national or regional variations," Sands said.

"This is creating incredible complexity, huge costs, and a multitude of unintended consequences, not least the fragmentation of the global financial system and the emergence of new forms of financial protectionism."

Greater China -- including Hong Kong, Taiwan and mainland China -- delivered profits of $2.1 billion, up 46 percent, the bank said.

The Greater China market represented 25 percent of the group's total income and 31 percent of total profits, despite losses of around $100 million in mainland consumer banking.

Another "star performer" was Singapore, which enjoyed income growth of 26 percent.

But other markets in Asia were not so kind, notably India and South Korea.

The bank's South Korean operation was hit last year by a 10-week strike -- the longest in the country's banking history -- over attempts to adopt a performance-based pay system.

In December management introduced an early retirement programme for South Korean staff.

"This had a big impact on Koreas profits in 2011, but it was undoubtedly the right thing to do," Sands said.

"Like Korea, India had a tough 2011, but I am confident both will resume their growth path in 2012," he added.

As developed economies continue to deal with the aftermath of the global financial crisis, Sands said the world was "witnessing a profound shift in economic power and dynamism" in favour of developing countries.

"The clouds over the West should not obscure the sheer scale of wealth creation and social progress in the developing world," he said.

The profit result matched the average forecast of $4.75 billion from eight analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

In afternoon trade shares in Standard Chartered were up 0.75 percent at HK$200.80.

© 2012 AFP

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