Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Bank blames quantitative easing policies for drop in profits

Emerging-markets bank Standard Chartered has shocked investors with news that profits for the first three months of the year were "slightly down" on a year ago.

The bank, which was fined £415m last year by US authorities for busting sanctions against Iran and other countries, blamed quantitative easing by Western governments for a fall in its wholesale banking revenues. The shares fell as much as 6% despite finance director Richard Meddings insisting that the bank remained comfortable with City forecasts that pre-tax profits would rise to $8.2bn (£5.3bn) for the full year.

Meddings said: "We made a good start to the year in January and February but March was much tougher. April was more in line with our longer-term growth but I would prefer to see how May and June land before giving further guidance for revenue growth for the year. Last year we produced revenue growth of 8%, and it may be that we're more likely to be at that level."

The market reacted badly to Standard Chartered's failure to keep up its normal income growth. It said the bank had achieved high single-digit growth in the first quarter but the wholesale bank's income had fallen by a mid-single digit percentage.

Meddings said: "A great deal of Western quantitative easing is making its way into Asia."

The bank also saw a rise in bad-debt writedowns in the first quarter hit particularly by new legislation in Korea which makes it easier for consumers to get rid of their debts without having to go bankrupt.

Meddings said the bank would not chase growth for the sake of it: "We are not going to change our risk appetite and have a very firm grip on costs." The shares today dropped 99p to 1599p.