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Standard Bank CEO Sim Tshabalala on record profits; ICBC; Absa’s rejuvenation; Kokkie’s concerns; 2025 commitments and more
After running hard since mid-July, Standard Bank’s share price dropped on the release of half year results to end June, reflecting Mr Market’s inclination to buy on rumour, sell on fact. But with a 33% surge in headline earnings to a fresh half-year record, CEO Sim Tshabalala’s description of “reasonable” results is an understatement. The bank’s numbers are now back to pre-pandemic levels and in this in-depth interview with Alec Hogg of BizNews, the man who will next year celebrate a decade in the top job looks ahead and addresses key issues including booming non-SA operations; ambitious commitments for 2025; and 20% Chinese shareholder ICBC whose $5.6bn investment in 2007 is now worth a modest $3.5bn. Tshabalala also responds to criticism on BizNews by SA’s leading banking analyst Kokkie Kooyman who opined that rather than challenging FirstRand as SA banking’s top dog, Standard Bank’s #2 spot is in danger of being yielded to Absa.
Standard Bank delivers record headline earnings for the six months ended 30 June 2022
Standard Bank delivered record headline earnings of R15.3 billion for the six months to 30 June 2022 (1H22 or the current period), up 33% on the prior period. This performance was underpinned by continued balance sheet and franchise growth.
Headline earnings: R15 263 million, up 33%
Headline earnings per share (HEPS): 936 cents, up 37%
Common equity tier (CET) 1 ratio: 13.7% (1H21: 13.5%)
Net asset value (NAV) per share: 12 721 cents up 11%
Return on equity (ROE): 15.3% up from 12.9%
Cost-to-income ratio: 56.0% (1H21: 58.3%)
Credit loss ratio: 82 bps (1H21: 88 bps)
The Board approved an interim dividend of 515 cents per share. This equates to a dividend payout ratio of 55% for the current period.
Standard Bank made good progress on its 2025 commitments, both strategically and financially. It exceeded internal expectations in terms of revenue growth, delivered strong positive jaws, retained the credit loss ratio within the group’s through-the-cycle range, and ROE moved closer to the 2025 target range of 17% to 20%.
Pre-provision operating profit grew by 20% driven by strong revenue growth. Net interest income growth was driven by strong average balance sheet growth and margin expansion. Net fees grew by 10% supported by a larger client base and increased activity. Trading revenue growth was robust, driven by client trades on the back of market volatility. Revenue growth exceeded cost growth, resulting in positive jaws of 450 basis points. Credit
impairment charges were broadly flat leading to an 82 basis point credit loss ratio, down from 88 basis points in the six months to 30 June 2021 (1H21).
Standard Bank Activities (group excluding ICBC Standard Bank plc (ICBCS) and Liberty Holdings Limited (Liberty)) recorded headline earnings growth of 25% to R13.6 billion and ROE improved to 15.0% (1H21: 13.3%).
Liberty’s performance improved period on period as the pandemic-related impact waned. The Liberty minority buyout was successfully completed in March 2022 and the process of integrating Liberty into the group is underway. The initial focus has been on aligning the sales and adviser teams to drive client franchise growth, the strategic alignment of the Standard Bank and Liberty Africa Regions’ teams and defining the path to deliver the financial benefits identified as part of the transaction. The group remains the third largest investment services business on the continent by AUM/AUA, with a combined AUM/AUA of R1.4 trillion.
ICBCS managed risk associated with the emerging market volatility well. It also received an insurance settlement in the current period relating to a previous client loss.
The group’s South African banking business recorded a strong rebound. Headline earnings increased by 30% and ROE improved to 14.2%. Revenue grew by double digits, boosted by a strong trading performance and an ongoing recovery in activity-related fees, up 41% and 10% respectively. Credit impairment charges declined but remained above pre-pandemic levels. Costs were well contained to deliver positive jaws of 440 basis points.
Standard Bank’s Africa Regions’ franchise grew revenue by 26% driven by a larger balance sheet, higher interest rates, higher transactional volumes, a recovery in international trade as lockdowns eased, and double-digit growth in trading revenue. The business absorbed higher costs (linked to a spike in inflation), to deliver positive jaws of 943 basis points. Africa Regions’ headline earnings increased by 41% (and by 35% in constant currency) and ROE recovered to 20.4%. The top six contributors to Africa Regions’ headline earnings remained Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria and Uganda. Africa Regions’ contribution to 1H22 group headline earnings was 37%.
In 2H22, global growth is expected to slow as tighter financing conditions take effect. Inflationary pressures are, however, expected to fade. The International Monetary Fund is forecasting global real GDP growth of 3.2% and 3.8% in sub-Saharan Africa for 2022. African countries with high sovereign debt levels are likely to face some constraints.
Further monetary tightening in South Africa is expected to negatively impact confidence and demand and constrain real GDP growth to 2.3% in 2022. Electricity supply issues may constrain growth further. Inflation is expected to peak in 2H22, averaging 6.5% in 2022.
“We are focused on delivering continued revenue growth through our client-centric strategy, and our ability to deliver new and relevant solutions to our clients through their channel of choice, as and when they need them” says Mr Tshabalala
50% of Standard Bank’s Business and Commercial clients are now accessing and using our digital channels. Consumer High Net Worth has seen an 18% growth in platform customers and a 25% increase in digital transactions to over 240 million.
Standard Bank has strived to make a meaningful difference to the lives of our clients. More than 2 600 families impacted by the KZN floods earlier this year were assisted with insurance pay-outs. Through OneFarm Share, a digital platform that connects excess fresh produce from food producers to food requests from registered charity organisations, more than 9 400 tonnes of food have been distributed to date. In the first half of the year, more than R33 billion was paid out to help families purchase homes. Standard Bank has also funded upwards of R15 billion in sustainable finance deals in the period.”
Other highlights include:
- Unayo, our digital payments platform, now available across 9 countries
- Unique visitors to LookSee exceeded 375 000 and more than 30% of registered users on the platform are new to bank
- Over 1 100 points of representation and more than 50 000 cash-out points
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For the twelve months to 31 December 2022 (FY22), net interest income is expected to grow by low double digits year on year, supported by balance sheet growth and endowment tailwinds. As the pandemic unwind fades, non-interest revenue growth is expected to moderate to high single digits.
Trading revenue growth for FY22 is expected to be slower than 1H22.
Standard Bank will continue to manage its costs judiciously, with a focus on delivering below-inflation cost growth and positive jaws and will continue to proactively manage regulatory challenges, and related costs, in Africa Regions. The group credit loss ratio is expected to remain in the lower half of the through-the-cycle target range of 70 to 100 basis points, subject to the macroeconomic developments relative to the group’s current base case outlook.
The group FY22 ROE is expected to improve year on year and remain above cost of equity.
Mr Tshabalala says: “While the environment remains volatile and uncertain, we are well positioned with strong capital ratios, an unprecedented stock of balance sheet credit provisions and a committed team ready to drive our business forward. We will continue to leverage our significant scale, unrivalled geographic footprint, and leading market positions to differentiate ourselves.
We remain committed to delivering positive impact and attractive shareholder returns”, concludes Tshabalala.
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