,“Most certainly, financial year ended March 31, 2021 (FY21) was by far one of the more challenging years not just from a market perspective but also from the global settlement and the goodwill that we took in,” group CEO Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir told StarBiz.
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PETALING JAYA: Coming out from one of its toughest years yet, AMMB Holdings Bhd (AmBank) says the bank has built itself back but remains cautious given the challenging environment.
“Most certainly, financial year ended March 31, 2021 (FY21) was by far one of the more challenging years not just from a market perspective but also from the global settlement and the goodwill that we took in,” group CEO Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir said.
The global settlement in question is the RM2.83bil payment it had to make to the government due to the lender’s past dealings with scandal-ridden 1Malaysia Development Bhd.
That payment had pushed the banking group into the red in FY21 and resulted in zero dividends for its shareholders.
“But as you can see from our first-quarter FY22 results, we have built back better, faster,” Sulaiman told StarBiz.
AmBank reported a net profit of RM386.60mil in its first quarter of FY22, an increase of 5.9% from the RM365.16mil achieved a year ago.
Moving forward, Sulaiman said the bank was seeing “some very strong growth” coming from the mass affluent, affluent, mid-corporate as well as small and medium enterprise segments.
“We have also improved on how we run the bank and we have strengthened efficiencies enormously.”
Sulaiman said while pandemic-related risks continued to unfold moving into FY22, the world was also starting to reopen.
“Economies are beginning to stabilise and locally, we are already seeing some loan applications for export businesses, expansion of factories, new hotels and the likes – this is great,” he said.
He noted that AmBank had an encouraging start to FY22 but continues to keep a close watch on its asset quality and has pre-emptively set aside overlay for the vulnerable assets should the need arise.
“We will look to reassess our position by the first half of FY22 when the applications for the Pemulih loan moratorium stabilises and we are able to gain more clarity around asset quality and credit costs,” Sulaiman said.
Notably, the group has set aside an additional RM87mil of provisions in the first quarter of FY22, which it said is necessary at this juncture, pushing total overlay to RM833mil for now.
“Nevertheless, we are actually experiencing a reduction in impaired loans, which again is a function of how we have managed the moratorium for our clients.
“Frankly, if not for the current moratorium, we would have seen a lot more non-performing loans.”
On costs, Sulaiman noted that in FY21, expenses remained relatively flat and cost-to-income (CTI) ratio improved further to 46.8% from the year before at 49.9%, as a result of its “disciplined” cost management.