June 19, 2024

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Standard Chartered chief says bank’s share price too influenced by ‘downside concerns’

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Standard Chartered unveiled a $1bn share buyback on Friday as chief executive Bill Winters said the bank’s struggling share price does not reflect its value.

The UK-based lender said statutory pre-tax profits for the final three months of 2023 rose to $1.1bn, in line with analysts’ expectations. The figure for the full year was up 19 per cent to $5.1bn.

Winters said the emerging markets-focused bank aims to return at least $5bn to shareholders over the next three years and would take “action to deliver sustainably higher returns”. The bank also announced a 21 cents per share dividend.

“Our share price reflects little of our optimism about prospects and seems heavily influenced by . . . downside concerns,” said Winters.

The bank, which trades below its net asset value, has been under pressure to boost its share price performance and return cash to investors. StanChart’s shares have fallen 32 per cent since Winters took the helm in June 2015.

“The concerns are real, and we take them seriously,” Winters said, adding that “the value of our franchise will become increasingly clear to the broader market”.

The bank unveiled a cost-saving plan which it said would save around $1.5bn of expenses over the next three years.

Winters voiced confidence about the outlook for Asia despite the bank having taken impairment charges on the value of its stake in China Bohai Bank, a mainland lender.

It reported a $153mn charge on its Bohai stake in the fourth quarter, in addition to a $700mn charge in October. The bank also reported $282mn in impairments related to Chinese commercial real estate for 2023, accounting for more than half of its total credit impairments for the year.

The bank’s profits in Asia, its biggest market, rose 18 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter to $928mn. It reported a $229mn quarterly loss in Europe…



2024-02-23 00:31:55

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