Investec profits up as bank cuts bad loan losses

Tim Wallace
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BANK and investment group Investec saw profits recover strongly in the last year, the lender announced yesterday, as it shook off much of the legacy of the financial crisis.

The UK and South African institution’s operating profits jumped 20.8 per cent on the year to £433.17m.

In part that was driven by improved fee and commission revenues in South Africa.

Net fee and commission income increased 10 per cent to £972.7m, while investment income rose 4.9 per cent to £182.9m and net interest income improved 0.5 per cent to £702.5m

British profits only edged up 6.9 per cent to £144.4m as weak activity is holding back growth prospects – a state that is likely to continue until the economy picks up more broadly.

Impairment losses fell particularly strongly, down 22.8 per cent from £325.1m to £251m.

Many of those problems date back to pre-crash investment in Australian commercial property, which turned bad in the financial crisis.

“We started tightening credit standards in 2007-8 and have reduced impairments since then. We took a large exposure, particularly in Australia,” managing director Bernard Kantor told City A.M.

“That type of business – property speculation and development – we have stopped completely. We were caught short when the crisis struck, particularly in Australia. We were caught by exuberance and will not fall into that trap again.”

The group’s shares fell 2.24 per cent yesterday, broadly in line with the rest of the FTSE 250.