×

UPDATE 2-StanChart resumes dividend payout as 2017 profit soars

* FY2017 pre-tax profit at $2.4 bln versus $2.7 bln estimates

* Resumes dividend payouts, proposes 11 cents/share for 2017

* Core capital ratio at 13.6 percent at end-2017

* Shares rise over 2 pct in Hong Kong, erasing earlier losses

* Aims to generate income at CAGR of 5-7 pct in medium term (Adds comments from CEO and CFO, more details of financial results)

HONG KONG/LONDON, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Standard Chartered Plc resumed paying dividends after posting a six-fold jump in annual pretax profit, indicating the bank was making progress in its return to revenue growth following a painful two-year restructuring.

Under CEO Bill Winters, who arrived in 2015, the emerging markets-focused lender has slashed more than 5,000 jobs and dumped business lines such as Asian equities to cope with the impact from the slump in global commodity prices and rising bad debts caused by over-exuberant lending.

StanChart, which makes the bulk of its revenue in Asia, had also skipped paying a dividend since the second half of 2015, the year it posted its first loss in over a quarter-century.

But on Tuesday, the lender said pretax profit for 2017 jumped to $2.41 billion from $409 million in the previous year and proposed a full-year dividend of 11 U.S. cents per ordinary share. The profit was below the $2.7 billion average of 10 analysts' estimates, according to Thomson Reuters data.

StanChart's Hong Kong shares rose more than 2 percent in afternoon trading following the results and the dividend announcement, erasing their losses earlier in the day.

"The Board understands the importance of the ordinary dividend to shareholders and intends to increase the full year dividend per share over time," StanChart's Chairman Jose Vinals said in the bank's earnings statement on Tuesday.

Operating income, closely watched by investors who want StanChart to deliver profit from core business growth rather than lower provisions for bad loans, was up nearly 3 percent to $14.43 billion, according to the bank's statement.

Its core capital ratio, another closely watched measure of lenders' financial strength, remained unchanged at 13.6 percent last year compared to 2016, but above the lender's targeted range of 12 percent to 13 percent.

GROWTH MOMENTUM

London-headquartered StanChart is looking to drive returns by boosting lending to key industrial sectors and top clients, in a move that could cut about a dozen investment banking jobs as it dials back in areas like private equity, sources told Reuters earlier this month.

Some of those jobs will likely be redeployed in other parts of the main corporate banking unit it is trying to strengthen, given its aim to increase lending to top companies in its main markets of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Despite the jump in 2017 profit, CEO Winters said on Tuesday StanChart needed to establish income growth momentum across all its businesses, which will help it generate income at a compound annual growth rate of 5-7 percent in the medium term.

The results showed that some of its business lines are still struggling to deliver.

Underlying income in the corporate and institutional banking division fell 3 percent year-on-year, as its financial markets unit suffered from the low global market volatility in 2017 that dampened trading activity.

StanChart's private banking division reported a $1 million loss for the year, as costs rose from investments. It, however, did see $2.2 billion of new money flow into the private bank, compared to the previous year when it saw $2 billion flow out.

"It is encouraging to see the improvement in profitability and the increased balance sheet momentum but there is still a long way to go before returns are at acceptable levels," said StanChart Chief Financial Officer Andy Halford.

(Reporting by Sumeet Chatterjee, Emma Rumney and Lawrence White; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)