Standard Bank posts higher profits, flags Ukraine risks
South Africa’s Standard Bank reported a 57% rise in annual profit on Friday as African economies gradually recovered from the fallout of the pandemic, although the lender warned of risks to its outlook after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Like most South African banks, Africa’s biggest asset lender has seen a dramatic rebound in performance as economies rebound and massive pandemic-related bad debt charges ease. Standard Bank recorded a 52% drop in credit write-downs to 9.9 billion rand ($658.23 million).
Its overall earnings per share – the main measure of earnings in South Africa – came in at 1,573 cents, down from 1,002.6 cents a year earlier, and at the upper end of its forecast range. The company said it is on track to meet its 2025 targets.
“2022 has started with strong momentum,” Standard Bank said, adding that global growth is expected to remain above trend and pent-up consumer demand should boost spending and trade.
He said the rebound, however, was expected to slow in his home market, South Africa, while other economies in the region faced high debt.
Russia’s war with Ukraine also risks damaging recovery, he said, warning of potential impact on financial markets, trade, transport logistics, commodity prices and food on the African continent.
The bank said it had “limited direct exposure” to Russia and Ukraine and actively ensured that it complied with all local and international laws.
A London-based joint venture with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, in which Standard Bank has a 40% stake and has slowed profits in the past, has exposure to affected entities both directly and indirectly.
It is not yet possible for the company to assess the impact on its 2022 results, Standard Bank said, while declaring a final dividend of 511 cents per share.