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Wednesday, February 25, 2015, 10:05

Hang Seng Bank profit tumbles 43 percent

By Bloomberg
Hang Seng Bank profit tumbles 43 percent
A branch of Hang Seng Bank Ltd in Central, Hong Kong. The Hong Kong lender, controlled by HSBC Holdings Plc, isexpected to face rising bad loans. (Provided To China Daily)

Hang Seng Bank Ltd, the Hong Kong lender controlled by HSBC Holdings Plc, posted a 43 percent drop in 2014 profit after a year-earlier result was boosted by an accounting gain for a stake in China's Industrial Bank Co.

Net income was HK$15.1 billion ($1.95 billion), or HK$7.91 a share, down from HK$26.7 billion, or HK$13.95 a share, the bank told Hong Kong's stock exchange on Monday. The earnings compared with the HK$15.5 billion average of seven analysts' estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Excluding effects connected with the Industrial Bank stake, a shareholding that Hang Seng has partly sold down, net income edged ahead 0.4 percent, the bank said.

Rising bad loans could weigh on the lender's shares, while prospects for a special dividend may lend support.

"Investors are expecting Hang Seng Bank to sell the remaining shares in Industrial Bank this year and they may distribute a special dividend after that," said Edmond Law, a Hong Kong-based analyst at UOB-Kay Hian Holdings Ltd. "Asset quality for the rest of the year will remain an issue for investors given China's rising bad loans."

The bank's loan impairment charges more than doubled in 2014 to HK$1.14 billion "due to the more challenging credit environment in the Chinese mainland", the company said.

In 2013, the lender's profit included an accounting gain of HK$9.52 billion related to the Industrial Bank stake. The 2014 result included a HK$2.1 billion impairment loss on the same investment.

The lender sold 5 percent of Industrial Bank this month for about $2 billion and said it will keep reviewing a remaining stake of 5.87 percent.

Shares of Hang Seng Bank fell 0.35 percent to HK$142.2 on Tuesday. The benchmark Hang Seng Index was up 0.35 percent. The lender is up more than 10 percent this year, outstripping a 5 percent gain in the index.

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