HSBC Mena profit climbs 67% on provisions drop

DUBAI - Global banking giant HSBC said on Monday that its Middle East and North Africa operations posted a 67 per cent surge in pre-tax profit as provisions for bad loans declined.

By Issac John

Published: Tue 28 Feb 2012, 11:19 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 11:19 AM

The bank, with 89 million customers in 85 countries, said its Mena pre-tax profit surged to $1.5 billion from $892 million a year earlier. Impairment charges declined to $293 million from $627 million a year earlier.

“Despite political unrest and economic pressures, profits increased in all countries” with the exception of Qatar and Jordan, the bank said.

The UAE contributed $575 million to the bank’s profit, followed by $361 million from Saudi Arabia and $225 million from Egypt. Total loans and advances grew to $25.9 billion last year from $24.6 billion a year ago.

Simon Cooper, the bank’s chief executive for the region, said 2011 saw HSBC deliver a very strong performance in the region. “This was the year that we saw our strategic plan for the region come to fruition, returning HSBC to sustainable growth.”

HSBC, which makes over three quarters of its profits outside Europe and north America, said it was confident growth in Asia, Latin American and the Middle East would continue to offset sluggish European economies this year.

Cooper said the bank’s commercial banking business grew its revenue faster than regional gross domestic product, GDP, “meaning we are winning market share and a greater share of our clients’ business in Mena.” The bank said its Mena business has come through 2011 in very good shape. “We look forward to delivering another strong year of sustainable growth in 2012.”

Globally, the bank’s pre-tax profit rose 15 per cent to $21.9 billion in 2011, compared with a forecast for $22.2 billion. The bank said it was on a “clear trajectory” to hitting its 12 per cent return on equity target by 2013.

CEO Stuart Gulliver said it would be a challenge to meet the bank’s 2013 target for reducing costs as a proportion of income with costs rising 10 per cent and its wages bill up over $1 billion in 2011.

The pre-tax profit figure fell short of the group’s record profit of $24.2 billion in 2007, but beat all other western banks that have reported so far for last year, including US rival JPMorgan, which made a $19 billion profit.

The world’s most profitable banks in recent years have been Chinese groups ICBC, which made a $34.2 billion pretax profit in 2010, and China Construction Bank, which made $27.8 billion.

HSBC’s profit was boosted by a $3.9 billion accounting gain on the value of its debt. Stripping that out, underlying pretax profit fell 6 per cent to $17.7 billion, due in part to rising wages in emerging markets and to restructuring costs.

The core Tier 1 ratio and Tier 1 ratio for the Group remained strong at 10.1 per cent and 11.5 per cent, respectively as the group’s total assets at grew four per cent to $2,556 billion.

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