StanChart hits tenth year of record profits

Tim Wallace
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STANDARD Chartered fears the new wave of bank regulations from Brussels could harm its global business, bank bosses warned yesterday, noting it is always reviewing its decision to remain domiciled in the UK.

The emerging markets specialist had a strong 2012, reporting a 10th consecutive year of record income and profits, despite paying $667m (£441.2m) to US regulators to settle sanction-breaking claims.

Income jumped eight per cent to $19.1bn while profits came in at $6.9bn, up one per cent on the year.

Hong Kong remains the bank’s biggest market, accounting for 18 per cent of its income, though rapid growth in emerging markets is eroding that share – eight per cent of revenues now come from Africa, and another eight per cent from India.

And the rapid growth of those regions also added to profits made in the UK and Europe, as the bank provides trade finance and support both to firms trading with European firms, and to European investors putting funds into emerging markets.

That pushed up income in the Americas, UK and Europe by 30 per cent to $2.296bn.

The flood of regulations from the EU counts against the bank remaining domiciled in Britain, not least because new rules on bonuses and the planned financial transactions tax will affect global operations, not just those in Europe. For example, 72 of the bank’s 112 most senior staff are not in the EU and so could easily be poached by firms not burdened by bonus rules.

But chief Peter Sands noted that the trade activity between Europe and faster-growing economies is a factor that favours keeping the bank here.

“We take EU regulation very seriously, it is a challenge,” he said. “But our British nationality is an advantage, it is seen as a neutral passport.”