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FNBB positive results defy sluggish economy

Publishing Date : 05 March, 2018

Author : REARABILWE RAMAPHANE

First National Bank Botswana (FNBB) continues to swim through difficult times of slow economic growth caused by amongst others the fall out of BCL Mine and generally sluggish economy.


The Group which is listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) as FNB Holdings registered 9 percent increase in profits before tax for half year trading period ended 2017 December 31st . This was revealed by the company’s top brass at a financial results briefing in Gaborone on Wednesday.  FNBB Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Steven Bogatsu shared that his bank continues to deliver positive results despite the unfavorable environment. He attribute the bank’s gains to innovative customer tailored products that best satisfy FNBB clientele.  


Bogatsu highlighted that 95% of volumes were accumulated from clicks, that is to say growth in digital banking transactions significantly contributed to their positive financial output. “Click transactions involve both online banking and cell phone banking. These are platforms the bank continues to provide to customer to ensure ease of banking,” he said.  


Bogatsu revealed that in response to the aftermath of BCL closure and general sluggish economy, his bank has remained cautious on lending and focused more on recoveries and operational efficiencies which are positively impacting the profitability growth and ensuring sustainability of the banks’s performance into the future.


Giving an in-depth look into the financial results FNBB Chief Finance Officer (CFO), Makgau Dibakwane highlighted that the 9 % increase in profit before tax was due to over 444 million pula registered compared to 407 million pula recorded in the six month ended 31st December 2016. The Bank also realized 10 percent increase in noninterest income registering over 548 million pula compared to 499 million pula accumulated in the previous corresponding half year period.


This, according to the FNBB CFO, was due to significant increase in the volumes of electronic transactions. “This reflects success of promotional campaigns over the period to encourage customers to make less use of branches and greater use of the lower-priced electronic options, with a view to providing customers with greater convenience,” said Dibakwane.


A further scrutiny of the financial highlights indicates that advances to customers did not record any significant change in figures. Deposits from customers climbed by 4 percent from 17, 077, 199 000 in half period ended 31st December 2016 to 17, 818,762, 000 in trading period under review.


Dibakwane said although advances growth fell slightly below the market rate, the Bank still holds the largest market share of advances of 30% , adding that Growth of 10% was achieved in retail advances, mainly through employer schemes, while muted demand for business credit of the right risk profile subdued the overall advances growth. “There have, however, been recent signs of improved business confidence for 2018,” he said.


The bank also revealed that in overall their balance sheet grew by 6.7% from P22.4 billion to P23.9 billion on the back of growth in its retail and business deposit base, particularly in current accounts, which strengthens the Bank’s customer base. The Chief Finance Officer explained that this growth was posted in the term deposits, coupled with a further issuance of senior debt during the second quarter. “Both these initiatives are aimed at further lengthening the Bank’s funding profile. As a result, the deposits to customers and borrowings which represent senior debt posted growth of 4% and 21% respectively leading to a stable loan to deposit ratio of 85%.”


FNBB executives also shared that the Bank redeemed non-compliant Tier II capital instruments and reissued compliant instruments to enhance the capital position of the Bank and lengthen the maturity profile. As such, the Bank’s total capital adequacy ratio before dividend has been maintained at 19.88% as at 31 December 2017.  “This is well above Bank of Botswana’s required minimum ratio of 15%,” said FNBB Chief Finance Officer explaining that as at 31 December 2017, Tier I capital ratio stood at 15.41% above the regulatory minimum of 7.50% whilst Tier II capital ratio was 4.47% in the same period.  


He noted that the current Tier II capital ratio can be built up to the regulatory minimum of 7.50% over time, depending on the Bank’s strategy, capital demand and supply dynamics. “However, as per the regulations, the entire minimum capital adequacy ratio of 15% can be covered with Tier I capital. When the strategy dictates, the Bank would keep on tapping the capital markets for Tier II capital instruments in line with the Capital Management Framework,” he said.


INVESTING IN CAPITAL AND SKILLS

Meanwhile the Chief Executive Officer of FNBB, Bogatsu said Botswana needs to differentiate itself as a destination for investments in capital and skills. He indicated that the local growth slowed to 1.8% year on-year in the third quarter of 2017, 0.5% lower than at the same time in 2016. “Growth was led by the services sectors of transport, communications and financial services, whereas the trade sector has suffered from the downturn in the mainstream cutting and polishing diamond industry,” he said.


Bogatsu said In the short term, growth prospects were anticipated to reach 4% by 2019 with a medium-term average of 4.1% however he underscored that local growth should improve saying government must take deliberate actions in oiling growth dynamics, such as improving business confidence, policies and business regulations that will allow for more business to operate effectively as well as identifying specific economic zones.


The FNBB Boss noted that moving forward his bank will be focused on specific strategies such as building partnerships, improving customer service, investing in digital transformation and automation as well as banking efficiencies.  "It has been an environment of efficiencies and we will continue building momentum for growth. The bank has worked on improving costs efficiently and as a result the bank has experienced 3.0% growth on assets,” he said.   


Bogatsu also shared that despite resistance from some customers, FNB was 97% compliant of "Know Your Customers" popularly known as KYC. The company directors proposed an interim dividend of 5.0 thebe per share, the group says cautious approach to lending in recent times, has impacted on its net interest income growth, but reduced the Bank’s exposure to impairments, leaving the Bank well-placed to take advantage of future opportunities

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