Standard Chartered forecasts 10pc profits rise

Standard Chartered Bank has said that it expects pretax profit to rise by at least 10 per cent this year to another record, helped by a strong performance in emerging markets such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

Net interest margins were also expected to rise from 2010 levels, it said in a filing to the Hong Kong bourse, although depreciating Asian currencies are now likely to depress income growth to just below 10 per cent.

The bank also said it had initiated a restructuring programme, which it said would cost about $50 million or more, depending on the level of participation.

"The group has continued to manage expenses tightly," the London-based lender said in the statement. "We have continued to invest in both businesses, to underpin income momentum into 2012."

The bank's outlook is in line with industry expectations, with a poll of 25 analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S expecting a 12 percent increase in pretax profit to $6.8 billion this year. That would mark a fivefold rise over the last decade.

That has seen Standard Chartered leapfrog big names such as Barclays Plc and Deutsche Bank in terms of size to rank behind arch-rival HSBC and Santander , with a market value of $50 billion.

StanChart did not provide any specific figures relating to its performance, instead using terms such as "double-digit growth" and "tens of million".

The Asia-focused bank, one of the few still hiring while the bulk of the industry shrinks, expects to add about 2,000 net new staff this year, reaffirming comments made by Chief Financial Officer Richard Meddings to Reuters last week.

India and South Korea continued to perform poorly, with full year income in the South Asian country falling below levels seen in 2010, hit by the local business environment.

In South Korea, which was hit by a labour dispute earlier this year, performance was muted in the second half, the bank said.

Singapore, Hong Kong, China, Botswana, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia all recorded income growth of more than 10 per cent, and the bank said it saw a number of opportunities especially in its wholesale banking business.