Cost efficiencies drive vibrant 9-month growth for ComBank


* Cost to Income Ratio (before VAT on Financial Services) improves to 30.73% from 33.95% at end 2020 and 38.51% at end 2019

*Pays Rs.10.981 billion in total as taxes

*CASA ratio continues to improve, sets industry benchmark at 47.05%

*Growth of impairment charges curtailed to 7.56%; totals Rs 17.997 billion

*Provision cover further strengthened to 63.03%; net NPL ratio improves to 1.83%

The Commercial Bank of Ceylon Group has achieved characteristically equitable growth for the nine months ending 30th September 2021, despite a slowing down in some key contributors in the third quarter of the year.

The Group, comprising the Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC – Sri Lanka’s largest private sector bank – its subsidiaries and an associate, has reported a gross income of Rs 120.050 billion for the period, an improvement of 5.66% over the corresponding nine months of 2020, with the third quarter recording a growth of 4.34% in comparison with the 6.34% growth achieved for the first half of 2021.

Interest income, the biggest component of gross income, grew by 3.43% to Rs 96.227 billion, improving on the 3.20% growth achieved up to June 2021, and interest expenses continued to decline, albeit at a lower rate than in the first half of the year, the Group said. Consequently, interest expenses reduced by 13.42% to Rs 48.693 billion for the nine months, enabling the Group to post net interest income of Rs 47.533 billion, recording an increase of 29.18%.

Among the other principal contributors to gross income, fee and commission income grew by 32.21% to Rs 11.002 billion; net other operating income improved by 13.91% to Rs 7.808 billion assisted by higher exchange gains; net gains from de-recognition of financial assets contributed Rs 2.976 billion and net gains from trading amounted to Rs 2.037 billion, an increase of 171.95%. Net gains from de-recognition of financial assets witnessed a decline of 36.10% due to a reduction in profits from the sale of Treasury Bonds and Sovereign Bonds by Rs 1.417 billion, in comparison with the third quarter of last year, the Group said.

Total operating income at Rs 68.951 billion for the nine months, reflected a growth of 23.53% and the Group’s noteworthy achievement of restricting impairment charges to Rs 17.997 billion during the period under review, an increase of only 7.56% as compared with a 47.44% growth at the end of the first half of 2021, resulted in net operating income growing by 30.37% to Rs 50.954 billion. With the Group’s consistency in curtailing growth in operating expenses to 8.39% (8.42% for the first half of 2021), total operating expenses for the nine months increased by Rs 1.647 billion to Rs 21.280 billion.

Consequently, operating profit before VAT on financial services grew by a significant 52.55% to Rs 29.674 billion for the nine months, improving on the 41.09% growth recorded at the end of the first six months of the year.

Commercial Bank Chairman Justice K. Sripavan noted that these results demonstrate Commercial Bank’s strong ability to maintain healthy and balanced growth in core banking operations to mitigate the impacts of fluctuations in income from fee-based operations and other operating income. “Each quarter sees the Bank maintaining or improving on its key performance ratios to become even more financially stable and better-positioned to continue its mission as a systemically important bank,” he said.

The Bank’s Managing Director S. Renganathan elaborated that Commercial Bank continued to improve its CASA ratio, cost-income ratio, provisioning for impairment and provision cover in the period reviewed, disclosing that charges for impairment and other losses had in fact declined by a remarkable 41.87% in the third quarter. “These are excellent indicators of our unrelenting focus on banking fundamentals even as we continue to provide concessions to our customers in consideration of the difficult circumstances that prevail,” Renganathan said. “It is most noteworthy that in terms of profitability, the Group has also surpassed its 2020 full-year performance at the end of the third quarter of 2021 while improving its interest margins, return on assets and return on equity.”

The Group paid Rs 4.608 billion as value added tax on financial services for the nine months, which was up 50.55% in line with the growth in profits. As a result, profit before tax for the period amounted to Rs 25.067 billion, an improvement of 52.90%. Income tax increased by 15.92% to Rs 6.049 billion, the relatively lower rate attributable to the reduction in the income tax rate. Consequently, profit after tax for the nine months reviewed grew by 70.17% to Rs 19.017 billion. Notably, this is Rs 1.931 billion or 11.30% more than the Group’s net profit for the full year of 2020. Total taxes paid by the Group in respect of the nine months amounted to Rs 10.981 billion.



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