StanChart targets 5-7 percent growth in investment bank

LONDON (Reuters) - Standard Chartered STAN.L is aiming to boost revenue growth at its investment bank by a compound annual rate of 5 to 7 percent in the medium term, the head of that business said on Tuesday, while trying to keep risk down and avoid past mistakes.

FILE PHOTO: People pass by the logo of Standard Chartered plc at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren/File Photo

The Asia, Africa and Middle East-focused bank will boost income after two years of restructuring, Simon Cooper, chief executive of corporate and institutional banking at StanChart told investors at a conference. He said this would come from cross-selling to more clients in those markets, as well as by taking advantage of intra-regional trade initiatives.

Investors are hoping StanChart can return to revenue growth again after a two-year restructuring under chief executive and former JPMorgan banker Bill Winters who has cut more than 15,000 jobs and axed business lines such as Asian equities.

Winters hired Cooper from rival HSBC HSBA.L in April 2016 to improve performance at StanChart's corporate and institutional banking division, which provides finance, transaction services and other products to companies and financial firms. The division makes up 45 percent of group revenues.

Cooper told Reuters the investment bank had a number of ways to keep risk within desired parameters, including broadening the factors advisers take into account when considering whether to grant loans and in terms of oversight of overall risks in its loan book.

“It’s a different mindset,” he said.

After coming through the financial crisis relatively unscathed, StanChart ran into trouble when global commodity prices crashed and bad debts started to rise on its books.

One $1 billion (£755.6 million) loan to Indonesian mining tycoon Samin Tan’s coal firm, Borneo Lumbung Energi & Metal Tbk - the single largest underwritten loan by any bank in Asia in 2011 - was characteristic of the bank’s heavy lending to individual borrowers.

Cooper said the bank had cut $1.6 billion worth of annual revenue by removing sub-scale and unprofitable businesses, and that the focus is now on restoring growth.

He also said the bank was likely to steer clear of equities - a business line it largely closed in 2015.

“Never say never, but I can’t foresee a time that we would go back in,” he said. “That’s not to say we’re not going to look at structured equities within financial markets, but that’s a very different business.”

Some analysts remain sceptical that the bank can increase profits in the long term at the same level as in the past.

In a note, brokerage firm KBW said the market’s doubts were likely to persist until there were signs the anticipated revenue growth were appearing at a group level. KBW has a “market perform” rating on Standard Chartered.

StanChart shares fell 5 percent on Nov.1 after it reported higher expenses and flat revenue for the third quarter.

The shares were down 0.7 percent on Tuesday after its presentation to investors, underperforming a flat STOXX European banks index .SX7P, but recovered slightly later in the day and were down 0.16 percent at 1710 GMT.

Editing by Jason Neely and Jane Merriman