HONG KONG/LONDON (Reuters): Standard Chartered unveiled plans for an up to $1 billion share buyback, its first such in at least 20 years, and posted a 10% rise in quarterly profit, signalling the bank was seeing early success in its growth turnaround strategy.
StanChart CEO Bill Winters
The buyback comes after StanChart CEO Bill Winters unveiled in February ambitious plans to double return on tangible equity and dividends in three years by cutting $700 million in costs and boosting income.
Winters won plaudits from investors for his initial three-year plan that began in June 2015 when he focused on revamping the risk culture, slashing costs and purging bad loans that had accumulated in a post-2008 period of over-aggressive growth. The bank said on Tuesday in its quarterly earnings filing that it had received regulatory approval to start buying back shares worth up to $1 billion, and that StanChart was now able to manage its capital position “more dynamically”.
“We will maintain our strategic investment programme and start to buy back $1 billion of our shares, reflecting our confidence in our ability to execute the strategy and create long-term shareholder value,”Winters said in the statement.
Pretax profit for StanChart, which focuses on Asia, Africa and the Middle East, grew to $1.38 billion in the January-March period from $1.26 billion a year ago, the London-headquartered bank said.
StanChart announced this month a $1 billion settlement with the United States to bring to a close a long-running probe into whether the bank continued to violate sanctions after 2007, when it said it would no longer do business with Iran.
In addition to the $900 million provision the bank made in 2018, it took a “further and final charge” of $186 million in the first quarter, StanChart said.