Absa Bank Kenya MD Jeremy Awori.
Absa Bank Kenya MD Jeremy Awori. [Photo/ Courtesy]

Absa Bank Kenya PLC has today reported a strong increase in profit after tax to Kshs. 5.6 billion for the period ending 30 June 2021 compared to a similar period last year.

The strong performance was largely driven by growth in interest income particularly in the small and medium enterprises segment as the Bank accelerated its efforts in supporting businesses to recover from the effects of the pandemic and reposition for growth.

Announcing the results, Absa Bank Kenya Managing Director Jeremy Awori, attributed the bank’s performance to the improving macro-economic environment, quality of credit and resilience in customer operations.

“In confronting the challenges posed by the pandemic, we made the right decisive actions in capital management and supporting customers with over KES 62 billion loan restructures and KES 103 billion in gross lending in 2020. These decisions are paying off in 2021 with stronger balance sheet and faster growth for our franchise. We have been greatly inspired by the ingenuity and undying determination adopted by our fellow Kenyans to rise above the storm and keep getting things done,” said Mr Awori.

Despite the negative economic effects of the pandemic, all business units remained profitable, registering growth on key lines. Total income grew by 6% to Kshs17.8 billion mainly driven by the growth of net interest income, which was up 6% year on year on the back of increased lending; though partially offset by margin compression as a result of drops in Central Bank Rate (CBR) whose benefits the bank passed to customers as a responsible lender. Non- funded income driven by our new innovations and digitization grew by 6% and costs were well managed, dropping by 3% year on year.

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Net customer loans went up by 8% to close at Kshs 219 billion driven by key focus products namely general lending, trade loans, mortgage and scheme loans that recorded strong growth year on year. Customer deposits grew by 6% to Kshs 264 billion with transactional accounts contributing 68% of the total deposits.

In the period under review, the bank continued executing its growth strategy with introduction of some new exciting propositions. This included the launch of a fund and wealth management subsidiary, Absa Asset Management Limited (AAML), a move that perfectly fit its growth ambitions of being a fully-fledged financial institution offering more diverse financial solutions beyond banking across the region. AAML is at the forefront in providing investment services for Absa customers with a diverse portfolio of local and international capital markets options.

As part of efforts to support enterprise development, and in line with its diversity and inclusion agenda, the bank launched the Absa SHE Business account which aims to support at least 1 million women-led SMEs with both financial and non-financial resources. This account enables women entrepreneurs to access unsecured lending of up to KES10 million thus facilitating access to the requisite financing and capital to grow and access local, regional and international markets. The proposition is built on four key pillars: Access to Finance, Access to Market, Access to Information as well as Access to Mentorship and Coaching.

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The bank also recently introduced WhatsApp banking as part of its commitment to invest over Kshs1.6 billion in technology and innovation this year towards enhancing customer experience.  Customers can now transact via WhatsApp including account-to-Mpesa/Airtel Money transfers, inter-account transfers, bill payments and balance enquiry, among others. Other new digital solutions introduced by Absa recently include digital loan top ups, debit card management and the business banking App.

“The pandemic and its negative effects continue to persist, but we have drawn inspiration from our customers to rise above the storm and continue working together to keep the wheels of our economy turning. We are optimistic that we shall make good our commitment to continue innovating and enhancing our customers’ banking experience,” Mr Awori said.

Other Highlights include:

Costs

The bank costs were well managed at Kshs8.0 billion reflecting a 3% reduction year on year largely because of spend discipline and cost initiatives, building on prior periods of underlying costs savings. The cost save initiatives included automation of the processing centre and continued migration of customer transactions to alternative channels. The savings derived were used to fund sustainable investments especially in automation and digitization. The firm’s efficiency ratio for the first half of 2021 improved to 45% compared to 49% in the first half of 2020.

Impairment

Impairment decreased by 64% compared to similar period last year reflecting an improving macroeconomic environment for the business and its customers. The bank’s average loan loss ratio reduced to 1.8% (5.4% in H1 2020).

Capital & Liquidity

Absa Bank Kenya Plc capital and liquidity ratios remain strong with sufficient headroom above the regulatory requirement. The bank total capital adequacy ratio closed the first half of 2021 at 17.3% and liquidity reserve position at 38.1% against the regulatory limits of 14.5% and 20% respectively.

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