The Star Malaysia - StarBiz

CIMB sees improved performanc­e in 2021

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PETALING JAYA: CIMB Group Holdings Bhd is expecting recovery in 2021, driven by topline growth and lower provisioni­ng.

This year, the group’s return on equity (ROE) target is 6% to 7%, compared with the ROE of 2.1% achieved in 2020. The group also aims for loan loss charge (LLC) to be lower this year to 80 to 90 basis points, compared with 1.46% in 2020.

However, CIMB Group CEO Datuk Abdul Rahman Ahmad said economic recovery is expected to continue to be uneven with downside risks in the short term before improving in the second half of the year.

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

For its fourth quarter ended Dec 31, 2020 (Q4), CIMB Group posted a 74.7% year-on-year (y-o-y) drop in net profit to Rm215mil, due to its consumer banking arm seeing a lower net interest margin (NIM), as well as higher provisions driven by the management overlays, as well as its commercial banking arm recording higher provisions across the region..

For Q4, revenue was 4.3% higher y-o-y to Rm4.7bil. on the back of stronger fee-based non-interest income (NOII) and a relatively flat net interest income (NII).

For the full financial year (FY20), the group posted a 73.8% y-o-y drop in net profit to Rm1.19bil, while revenue fell 3.4% to Rm17.19bil.

The group stated that FY20’S performanc­e was largely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in elevated loan provisions arising from accounting adjustment­s incorporat­ing macroecono­mic factors and management overlays, as well as specific provisions made against Covid-19 related and legacy accounts.

Abdul Rahman said the group’s challengin­g operating environmen­t had led to its Forward 23+ mid-term strategy in early Q4.

“Our most immediate priority was cost management, and we successful­ly surpassed our FY20 cost reduction target of 5% through rigorous cost optimisati­on measures.”

Meanwhile, FY20’S gross loans registered a slight decline of 1% y-o-y as the group took steps to de-risk its balance sheet. Total deposits grew 2.3% mainly due to a 22.6% growth in current account savings account (CASA), and the CASA ratio continued to strengthen to 41.3% as at December 2020 compared to 34.4% a year earlier.

The group’s loan-to-deposit ratio stood at 89%. The gross impaired loan ratio stood at 3.6% as at December 2020, with an allowance coverage of 91.6%.

Also, the group remains well-capitalise­d with its highest CET1 ratio of 13.3%, including the reinstatem­ent of regulatory reserve from retained earnings, and a total capital ratio of 17.6% as at December 2020.

Abdul Rahman added that in FY21, digital is a main priority as online banking has become the primary banking experience for most customers. It has proposed an annual dividend of 4.81 sen per share, based on a dividend payout ratio of 40%.

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