StanChart profit tops $3.1 bn as bad debts tumble

StanChart profit tops $3.1 bn as bad debts tumble

London: Standard Chartered beat expectations with record half-year profit of $3.12 billion as bad debts more than halved and its key Asian markets fared better than those in the west.

Standard Chartered said on Wednesday pretax profit rose 10% from last year and was just above the average forecast of $3.06 billion from eight analysts polled by Reuters.

The bank, which is based in London but makes about four-fifths of its profit in Asia, said impairment losses on loans dropped to $437 million from $1.09 billion a year earlier as charges shrunk in the Middle East and elsewhere, to extend a trend shown by rivals including HSBC.

Standard Chartered had a record first quarter but said that economic uncertainty had hurt demand for some wholesale banking products in May and June.

It said it had seen more positive sentiment in markets more recently and an improvement in some businesses.

“There is fragility in the global economy and nervousness in financial markets. While there is economic improvement in our markets of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, they are still dependent on a recovery in the West which is much less certain," said chairman John Peace.

He was also concerned about uneven regulations and tax policies.

“It is a matter of great concern to us ... that regulations and taxes are not being introduced equivalently on an international basis and that UK banks could be put at a disadvantage to those elsewhere," he said.

Standard Chartered’s history of financing trade between Europe, Asia and Africa dates back to 1853 and it said it had stepped up investment this year to take advantage of growing Asian capital markets.

That resulted in costs rising faster than income by 8%age points in the first half. It said this so-called “jaws" would narrow for the full year, but cost growth would be greater than income growth.

Its wholesale business, which includes investment banking and trade finance, posted an operating profit of $2.47 billion, up 10% on the year. Its consumer banking operating profit rose 85% to $643 million.