Standard Chartered has said first-half operating profits will be 20% lower than a year earlier, blaming a slump in income from its financial markets business.
The warning comes only three months after the Asia-focused lender reported its first fall in annual profits for a decade.
The UK bank had been expected to show a modest bounce-back this year.
But it said tougher regulations and low market volatility had hurt revenues.
Standard Chartered said its interest rate and foreign exchange trading had been particularly hit.
Chirantan Barua, an analyst at Bernsteinm said: “Cyclical headwinds are yet to arrive in full force in the bank’s two key markets – Hong Kong and Singapore. Not that Korea or India is out of the woods either.
“Pack that in with a challenging and uncertain capital regime that won’t be resolved until the end of the year and you have a great deal of uncertainty around the stock.”
StanChart shows the peril of investing in a stock listed overseas overseas that operates internationally. When profits were gd, sterling was weak against all major currencies. When sterling is strong, profits no gd. Note the value of sterling is irrelevant to the underlying profits or losses of most of bank’s international operations.
ON AN afternoon in early summer a prospective customer walked into the gleaming new branch established in Shanghai’s free-trade zone by DBS, a Singaporean bank that, like many of its international rivals, has long touted China’s great promise for its business. The lobby was empty, save for a guard playing a video game. A log showed that the branch was attracting just two or three visitors a day. DBS remains optimistic about China and says that most of its free-trade-zone transactions are routed through other locations. But the torpid atmosphere at the branch points to foreign banks’ struggle to crack open the Chinese market.
To be fair to DBS its New Citizen CEO is not like the FT CEO of OCBC who may have blundered.
OCBC is offering to buy Wing Hang Bank’s shares for 125 Hong Kong dollars (US$16.12) each, in a big bet on China’s sustained economic growth. OCBC hopes the deal will springboard its growth into mainland China through the Hong Kong bank’s cross-border operations, and give it a foothold in Macau.
OCBC and Wing Hang Bank, one of Hong Kong’s last remaining family-owned lenders, began discussions on a possible deal late last year, and in January entered exclusive talks (after ANZ and UOB balked at the family’s asking price), which were extended twice as they argued over price.
The most recent comparable transaction (and bargaining benchmark for the family), the 2013 sale of Chong Hing Bank, went for 2.35 times book value including the value of a special dividend related to Chong Hing’s real estate. Accounting for the increase Wing Hang ascribes to the value of its property, the OCBC offer is closer to 2 times book value, a discount, compared to the Chong Hing deal, considering Wing Hang’s return on equity averaged 11.3% for the past three years, versus 7.8% for Chong Hing, according to Capital IQ.
Still OCBC shareholders were not that happy and its share price suffered.
What is unknown is the value of Wing Hang’s Hong Kong real estate, on some of the busiest shopping streets in the world. These could be worth even more than the bank says. A government index of Hong Kong retail properties has risen 400% over the past decade. Yet the company’s revaluation over the acquisition cost of the property is less than 100%.
If enough of Wing Hang’s minority shareholders refuse the price on offer, however, OCBC might prefer to raise it or offer* or bear the cost of maintaining the Wing Hang listing, and the cost of failing to fully integrate the bank.
Update at 6’00am: Here’s someone who thinks OCBC got sold a dog.
Wing Hang gives it greater opportunity to finance trade between China and other parts of Asia such as Malaysia and Indonesia, where it already has a foothold. Wing Hang’s strong funding base – loans were just 73 percent of deposits at the end of last year – is another advantage, as is its ability to capitalise on the yuan’s growing international popularity. About 17 percent of Wing Hang’s deposits are currently in the Chinese currency.
Nevertheless, the purchase brings risks to OCBC investors. China’s economic slowdown is creating credit wobbles, while Hong Kong’s property boom is bound to have led to some lending excesses. Meanwhile, rising interest rates in the United States could reverse the cheap deposits that have flowed into both Hong Kong and Singapore in recent years. Shareholders, who will probably be asked to help finance the purchase, may pay a high short-term price for OCBC’s long-term China ambition.
*OCBC has said the bid, a 50% premium to the then stock price, is generous.