Business News of 2013-12-02

Stanchart targets SMEs

Standard Chartered Bank says it will focus on supporting small- and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in addition to its backing for the mining, and oil and gas sectors in the coming years.

“We want to focus on the SMEs and help grow the sector. We really want to see SMEs grow and we will focus on that,” Mr. Kweku Bedu-Addo, Chief Executive Officer of the bank, said.

He was speaking at the “Facts behind the Figures” forum organised by the Ghana Stock Exchange for the bank to expound on its third quarter results.

The bank’s profit before tax increased from GH¢107million at the end of the third quarter of 2012 to GH¢193million at the end of September 2013.

Its operating income increased by GH¢104 million to GH¢303 million, representing a 52 percent increase within the period. Loans advanced to customers increased by some 12 percent to GH¢1.1billion.

The bulk of the bank’s revenue came from wholesale banking, with retail banking accounting for a third.

Mr. Bedu-Addo said he expects the bank’s performance to remain strong going forward. “We expect growth to continue in double digits going forward -- between 15-20 percent growth.”

Mr. Dayo Omolokum, the Chief Finance Officer of the bank, said: “The mining and oil and gas sectors demand huge capital, and we will continue to support these sectors. We want to grow but not too fast. We want to take risks but in an area we know.

“Going forward, there will be continued focus on balance sheet foundations. Profitability levels will remain strong to end of year. Dollar liquidity will remain a challenge but will not impair growth.”

In terms of profitability, the top-eight banks control 83 percent of the market share. Stanchart controls 19 percent of the top-eight.

The bank has been operating in the country for the past 117 years and has 24 branches, 51 ATMs nationwide and is expected to open three more branches in the coming year. It is also scaling-up its digital platform with the opening of its first “breeze” outlet in East Legon, Accra.

Breeze is an application that enables customers to check their balance and engage in other transactions on their smartphones.