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Standard Chartered Bank Kenya (NSE:SCBK) reported a 46.6 percent net profit growth in the nine months ended September on the back of lower costs and higher non-interest income.

 

Its net earnings in the review period stood at Sh6.3 billion, up from Sh4.3 billion a year earlier.

 

StanChart declared a surprise interim dividend of Sh5 per share, signalling its confidence about the economic outlook amid lifting of most restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

 

“The directors are pleased to announce the payment of an interim dividend of Sh5 for every ordinary share,” the lender said in a statement.

“The board recognises the importance of dividends to shareholders and believes in balancing returns with transformational investments for the business, whilst at the same time preserving strong capital ratios.”

 

The dividend will be paid on December 29 to shareholders who will be on the register as of December 7.

 

The bank was among the big lenders including KCB

 

and Absa Bank Kenyawhich had suspended their tradition of paying interim dividends as the health crisis unfolded.

 

StanChart’s interim dividend indicates that its total payout for the year ending December could surpass 2020’s distribution of Sh10.5 per share. The bank’s non-interest income jumped 19.1 percent to Sh7.5 billion, driven by improved performances in wealth management and financial markets.

 

Total interest income shrunk 2.4 percent to Sh17.5 billion as the bank reduced its investment in government debt securities and left its loan book flat.

 

Its holding of treasuries declined 8.1 percent to Sh94 billion while loans to customers hardly moved at Sh131.7 billion.

 

StanChart benefitted from a five percent drop in operating expenses to Sh13.3 billion, partly aided by staff costs declining by Sh552.1 million to Sh4.8 billion.

 

The bank has been cutting its workforce over the years amid a deeper push into digital banking services, a strategy that has helped to lower its wage bill.

 

StanChart’s interest expenses fell 23.2 percent to Sh2.7 billion, helping to boost the bottom-line.

 

The decline in amounts paid out to savers came despite customer deposits rising 6.4 percent to Sh258.3 billion, indicating a decline in the deposit rates.

 

StanChart reduced its loan loss provision by a marginal 1.6 percent to Sh2.6 billion despite gross defaults rising 4.7 percent to Sh23 billion.

 

The flat provisions signal a brighter economic outlook as banks report increased loan recoveries compared to last year when the worst impact of the pandemic was felt.

 

The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) says repayments and recoveries have been noted in the tourism, restaurants and hotels and building and construction sectors which were the hardest hit by the pandemic last year.