Standard Chartered

Standard Chartered bank expects high single digit growth

British bank giant says headwind from currency moves weakening and plans to hire more staff

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 December, 2012, 4:49am

Standard Chartered expects to report full-year revenue growth in the "high single digits", according to a statement from Britain's second-largest lender by market value.

The bank, which gets most of its profit in Asia, said pre-tax income might grow at a "mid-single-digit" rate, not including the effect of future settlements with United States regulators.

In late October, finance director Richard Meddings warned that the bank might miss its earlier growth target of at least 10 per cent.

The "headwind" from currency moves was decreasing, Standard Chartered - which is seeking a ninth consecutive year of record net income - said in the statement.

In October, the bank said revenue growth in the first nine months had been "impacted by the strength of the US dollar against Asian currencies".

Full-year revenue in markets including Africa, Malaysia, China and Indonesia might grow 10 per cent or more, the bank said.

The lender continued to see "significant opportunities" in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, chief executive Peter Sands said in the statement.

Standard Chartered said it continued to expand branch networks and hire in China and Africa, and might increase headcount by 1,800 by the end of this month from 12 months earlier.

The bank had 86,865 employees at the end of last year, according to its annual report.

"Standard Chartered is beautifully positioned in emerging markets and will benefit from the relatively better growth in those markets," Jim Antos, a banking analyst at Mizuho Securities Asia, said yesterday.

"The bank is hiring rather than firing. Few global banks can say the same."

HSBC, Europe's biggest bank by market value, said on November 5 that it was likely to face criminal charges from US anti-money-laundering probes and that the cost of a settlement might "significantly" exceed the US$1.5 billion the bank had already set aside.

The bank has been in talks with US regulators over allegations it laundered funds of sanctioned nations including Iran and Sudan.

The settlement might reach US$1.8 billion, Reuters reported yesterday, citing people familiar with the matter.

ING Bank agreed in June to pay US$619 million to settle allegations similar to those against Standard Chartered, a sum that was split evenly between the federal government and the Manhattan District Attorney's office.

Standard Chartered "is getting away cheap compared to HSBC", Antos said. "The fact that the bank mentions an exact figure suggests that this has been wrapped up."