Asia-focused lender Standard Chartered has sidestepped the global financial crisis once again, unveiling record annual profits for the seventh year running. The sure-footed bank reported a 5 per cent rise in net income to US$3.28 billion and rewarded investors with a dividend increase. It also said it would escape being burned by the Dubai property meltdown and reiterated plans to list shares in India. 'We have truly weathered the crisis,' Jaspal Bindra, the bank's Asia chief executive, said. Standard Chartered's shares closed in Hong Kong up HK$3.10 or 1.72 per cent at HK$183. In early trading in London, they were up 38 pence or 2.39 per cent at 1628 pence. On a pre-tax basis, the measure followed by analysts covering London-listed banks, Standard Chartered's profits rose 13 per cent to US$5.15 billion. The final dividend rose 6 per cent to 44.8 US cents a share and the total dividend 7 per cent to 66.03 US cents. Refusing to bow to political pressure in Britain, where public anger against excessive pay in the banking sector has become visceral, Standard Chartered paid out staff bonuses totalling US$1.1 billion. Standard Chartered global chief executive Peter Sands said in London that he would donate his US$3.2 million award to charity. HSBC chief executive Michael Geoghegan is also giving his 2009 bonus cheque to good causes. Bindra said Standard Chartered was committed to paying its staff for performance, and would not follow the industry-wide trend of raising bankers' salaries while cutting their bonuses. 'We will continue paying higher variable [sums to workers] than fixed,' he said. The Asia chief said the bank was ready to raise between US$500 million to US$800 million from a Mumbai listing 'as soon as market conditions allow'. He denied that the bank was raising cash in India to shore up its balance sheet against future bad debt shocks. The bank tapped investors for fresh capital in late 2008 with a GBP1.8 billion (HK$21 billion) rights issue. It then raised a further GBP1 billion in a share placing last August. The decent headline results masked a few negative elements. The bank had bad debt charges of US$2 billion, up from US$1.32 billion last year, with the Middle East and South Asia accounting for the lion's share. Standard Chartered is widely believed to have one of the highest exposures to Dubai among banks globally but Bindra said the lender was not very active in Dubai's bombed-out property sector. Standard Chartered is among creditors locked in talks with troubled Dubai Ports World, which has delayed repaying its US$26 billion of debt. Without naming names, the bank's results statement said its exposure to 'troubled entities' in Dubai was around US$500 million. In Hong Kong, the bank's largest market, low interest rates and public scepticism about wealth management services following the minibond scandal dampened earnings in its consumer division, where net income fell 7 per cent to US$1.08 million. The local wholesale business did well, though, with income rising 18 per cent to US$1.28 billion. The Standard Chartered boss forecast the developed world's economies would recover very slowly this year while Asia would motor ahead, led by China and India.