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Business News of Saturday, 23 May 2015

Source: GNA

StanChart positive about growth prospects

Standard Chartered Bank Ghana remains positive about its future growth prospects despite the difficult economic climate.

The bank is hopeful that its very strict risk management policies and discipline would help to improve the non-performing loans (NPL) ratio and to recover the balances.

The bank’s NPL jumped to 27 per cent in 2014 compared to 15.54 per cent in 2013 as a direct consequence of the difficult economic environment in 2014.

Mr Kweku Bedu-Addo, Chief Executive Officer, said the economic conditions caused a disruption in working capital cycles across many sectors while some of the bank’s clients were exposed to payment delays from government.

“This means that most of the clients were unable to pay within the time frame and the bank prudently has to make charges in line with the regulation,” he said at the Bank's Annual General meeting in Accra.

He said the Bank adheres to very strict risk management policies and discipline and the increased impairment charges in 2014 were consistent with assessment of the risks in the portfolio brought about by the changing and unpredictable economic situation in the country.

Mr Bedu-Addo said the impairment charges were based on prudence and did not mean that the balances are lost or unrecoverable.

He said the Bank has in place a strategy to ensure that the balances are recovered on time.

During 2014, Standard Chartered operating income increased by 24 per cent from GH? 420.1 million to GH?521.7 million.

Total assets grew 17 per cent to GH?3.5 billion with customer deposits by 24 per cent and loans recording 13 per cent.

Capital adequacy ratio stood at 15.67 per cent at the end of 2014 well above the regulatory minimum prudential limit of 10 per cent plus the three per cent additional buffer advised by the Bank of Ghana.

Profit after tax remained unchanged at GH?208.3 million.

“We are confident of the bank’s resilience to respond to the current economic challenges and to rebound when more benign market conditions return following the strategies and initiatives we have taken,” he said.

Mr Ishmael Yamson, Board Chairman, painted a positive outlook for the bank’s performance in 2015 despite the volatile economic conditions prevailing in the country.

“I remain very confident in the ability and commitment of the board and management to deliver a high standard of discipline, execution and conduct in 2015 in order to successfully sail through these turbulent times,” he said.

He said, the Bank would continue to maintain a cautious approach to growth in risks assets while it work on restoring stressed assets back into the regular portfolio within the shortest possible time.

The Bank declared a lower dividend of GH?0.35 compared to GH?1.15 in 2013 as it has to take out GH? 63 million from the 2014 profits to meet the Central Bank requirement of additional three per cent capital buffer above the statutory 10 per cent.