CIMB sees less provisions in 2021 after coronavirus-hit 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: CIMB Group Holdings Bhd reported a steep drop in its annual profits on higher loan loss provisions due to the pandemic, but the bank expects its financial performance to improve in 2021 in line with the economy.

Net profit in the last quarter ended Dec 31 fell 75% to RM215mil, or 2.17 sen a share, while revenue increased to RM4.7bil from RM4.5bil a year ago.

For the full year, the bank posted a net profit of RM1.2bil, or 12.04 sen a share compared with RM4.56bil, or 47 sen a share previously.

CIMB has proposed a dividend payout of 4.81 sen a share for the year.

"Pandemic-driven lockdowns and movement controls led to economic weakness and sharp GDP contractions across our core markets, resulting in revenue and profitability pressure across our business," group chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Rahman Ahmad said in a statement today.

"The challenging operating environment required us to take a hard look at all areas of our business and recalibrate our strategy, leading to the introduction of our Forward23+ mid-term strategy in early 4Q20," he said.

"As part of our plan to mitigate the challenging environment and strengthen our balance sheet, our most immediate priority was cost management, and in this regard we successfully surpassed our FY20 cost reduction target of 5% through rigorous cost optimisation measures.” Abdul Rahman said.

The proposed dividend was in line with the group's 40% payout ratio policy.

"As a financial intermediary, we are conscious of our responsibility to preserve capital buffers whilst providing returns to our shareholders. We will continue to manage capital prudently as we seek to strike the optimal balance between the current and future needs of our business and our stakeholders,” he said.

Looking forward, Abdul Rahman said the bank will maintain a "cautious growth stance" in 2021.

"We anticipate that economic recovery will continue to be uneven with downside risks in the short term before improving in the second half of the year," he said.

"Enhanced risk management, prudent cost optimisation and targeted investments across the business will remain priorities as we seek to drive efficient growth. With expected lower provisions, we anticipate considerably better financial performance in FY21.”

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