Standard Chartered announced that income from the UAE increased seven per cent in 2011, mainly due to good sales across personal loans and mortgage products and higher wealth management fees. However, the bank’s expenses in the country also rose six per cent, since it invested in developing the franchise and increasing frontline staff, it said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Our Middle East franchise has proved resilient despite all the political turmoil in the region, with income up two per cent. In our biggest market, the UAE, we are seeing a return of confidence, despite the debt overhang, with hotel bookings, airport arrivals and container traffic all up strongly,” it said.
However, income growth in the UAE was partly offset by lower income in Qatar, as “regulatory restrictions impacted asset volumes and asset and liability margins, ” the bank said.
Standard Chartered’s exposure to regional countries facing social unrest was limited, it said; exposures in Bahrain, Syria, Egypt, Libya and Tunisia represent less than 0.5 per cent its total assets.
In the Middle East and Other South Asia (MESA) region, the bank’s income increased by five per cent year-on-year to reach $723 million.
Globally, Standard Chartered made its ninth consecutive annual profit in 2011, spurred primarily by growth in Hong Kong and Singapore. The bank’s operating profit reached $6.7 billion, up 11 per cent from $6.1 billion in 2010, it said. While operating income rose 10 per cent from 2010 to reach $17.6 billion, expenses also went up by 10 percent in 2011.
“This is no small achievement,” said the bank’s group CEO, Peter Sands, during a conference call. “We are different from many other banks,” he said. “We stick to our strategy and don’t get distracted by things that are cheap. We operate a conservative balance sheet and are not opportunistic about the way we run our business.”
He also said that the bank, which focuses on operations in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, has had a very good start to 2012.