Standard Bank First-Half Profit Rises 61% After Asset Sales

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Standard Bank Group Ltd. said first-half profit rose 61 percent after Africa’s largest lender by assets sold Brazilian operations and part of its London unit.

Net income climbed to 13.2 billion rand ($1.03 billion) from 8.24 billion rand a year earlier, the Johannesburg-based lender said in a statement on Friday. Earnings per share excluding one-time items advanced 27 percent to 6.51 rand, while the bank increased its dividend 17 percent to 3.03 rand a share. Operating expenses climbed 11 percent.

“The underlying banking operations are solid and the big positive is the dividend up 17 percent and it seems the tier 1 capital situation is solid now,” said Patrice Rassou, head of equities at Sanlam Ltd.’s investment-management unit in Cape Town. “Cost growth looks quite hefty” and the revenue increase seems weaker than that of peers Nedbank Group Ltd. and Barclays Africa Group Ltd., he said.

Standard Bank completed the sales of its London-based global-markets business to the lender’s 20 percent shareholder the Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and sold its entire interest in Brazil’s Banco Standard de Investimentos SA during the six months. The lender also benefited from an insurance claim on missing aluminum stockpiles in China.

South Africa faces “downside risks such as uncertainty in the labor market, inconsistent domestic electricity supply, prices of mining-related commodities and vulnerable global growth,” Standard Bank said in the statement. The lender will “strive for operational efficiency through increased digitization,” it said.

Standard Bank dropped 0.7 percent to 153.56 rand at 9:26 a.m. in Johannesburg. The six-member FTSE/JSE Africa Banks Index fell 0.2 percent.

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