Tuesday, August 4, 2020
Martin Hennecke

StanChart beats estimates with US$1.9b profit
Standard Chartered (2888) yesterday posted a pretax profit of US$1.96 billion (HK$15.29 billion) for the first half, falling 25 percent from a year ago but beating estimates, while it warns second-half income is likely to be lower both half-on-half and year-on-year. The London-based bank, whose largest market is Hong Kong, saw statutory profit before tax drop 33 percent to US$1.6 billion. The lender set aside US$1.57 billion for potential loan losses in the first six months and said second-half provisions will be lower, even as the pandemic wreaks havoc. The bank did not declare an interim dividend in response to a request from the Britain regulator, saying it hopes to reinstate them as soon as prudently possible. In Hong Kong, pretax profit dropped 19.15 percent year-on-year to US$705 million in the first half. Operating profit fell 1.29 percent to US$1.83 billion, while credit impairment rose 3.5 times to US$162 million. Chief executive Bill Winters yesterday said Hong Kong dollar's peg to the greenback is "unassailable." "Attempts to undermine Hong Kong, I'm afraid, would have some pretty deleterious effects on the financial system more broadly and it's hard to see any policymaker in the world thinking that's a good thing to do anytime, but particularly now, during a pandemic," he said. Although Standard Chartered (2888) is reportedly set to start a new round of job cuts to further reduce cost amid the pandemic, Mary Huen Wai-yi, chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong), said the bank has kept headcount at around 600 staff in the city in the past few years thanks to effective cost management and is still hiring.
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