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KARACHI: UBL declared profit before tax (PBT) of Rs 34.2 billion for the half year ended June 30, 2022, an impressive growth of 32 percent over last year. The bank recorded a one-off taxation adjustment related to prior year profits as well as higher taxation due to change in the tax regime amounting to Rs 9.0 billion during the period.

This impacted the earnings per share (EPS) for the period, which was measured at Rs 9.69 (H1’21: Rs. 12.25). Excluding the taxation impacts, UBL’s EPS stood at Rs 16.9, while the RoE is measured at 23.9 percent for H1’22 (H1’21: 19.5pc). UBL’s capital base remains strong as the Capital Adequacy Ratio (CAR) was measured at 18.8 percent as at Jun’22, an excess of 6.3 percent over regulatory minimum requirements. The Bank declared dividends of Rs 4.0 per share for the second quarter of 2022, which takes the overall dividend distribution to Rs 9.0 per share for the half year ended June 30, 2022.

The Bank earned gross revenues of Rs 59.8 billion for H1’22, an increase of 29 percent over last year. markup income witnessed a significant increase of 29 percent, driven by active buildup within the bank’s low-cost funding base, deployed within an asset portfolio which repriced well in line with the market interest rates. Non-markup income of Rs 14.7 billion was earned in H1’22, well ahead of last year, owing to significant increase in foreign exchange income as well as strong revenue growth across all major fee-based services. The cost to income ratio further improved to 40 percent from 43 percent last year. Provisioning expense remained controlled with strong recoveries against non-performing accounts across both domestic and international businesses.

UBL is one of the premier financial institutions of this country. The Bank operates one of the largest branch networks with 1,338 branches, including 150 Islamic branches, 1,441 ATMs nationwide and 193 Islamic Banking Windows. The physical network is well supported by the Bank’s award winning and industry leading Digital Banking services, along-with UBL Omni, the Bank’s branchless banking proposition, serves even in the remotest locations, providing access to banking services to the vast unbanked population.

The Bank’s Branch Banking Group remains the cornerstone of the UBL franchise. Domestic deposits averaged Rs. 1.5 trillion for H1’22, an increase of 7 percent. The Bank on-boarded 302,000 current account relationships in H1’22 which resulted in a strong growth of 12 percent in average current deposits. This buildup helped in improving the average CASA ratio from 85 percent to 87 percent and contain the cost of deposits at 5.1 percent for H1’22 (H1’21: 3.4pc), despite the significant increase in interest rates during the period.

UBL continues to bring new financial solutions to its ever expanding and diverse customer base. During the year, the Bank introduced the UBL Urooj Account specifically for our female customers which provides comprehensive financial coverage with loans, insurance facilities and reduced fees to encourage women to invest for the future and gain financial independence.

Furthermore, our Industry-First High Net-worth Product, Signature Priority Banking, was revitalized during the year, which aims to provide luxury services to this valuable and growing customer segment.

UBL also remains an active participant in all the major economic initiatives of the Government of Pakistan and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP). We are one of the key partners in the SBP’s Roshan Digital initiative, having opened over 83,000 accounts, with inflows of over USD 646 million. The Bank continues to play a significant role in the “Mera Pakistan Mera Ghar” initiative, with volumes of over Rs 5.0 billion.

The Bank’s digital services under the UBL Digital umbrella, has transformed the way customers interact with the bank for their financial needs. Our strategy revolves around being agile to promptly respond to disruptions and integrating cross functional activities into one seamless banking experience. The end state envisioned is a wider payments ecosystem where all the Banks’ services are conveniently available to our customers at a single touch point.

UBL has been consistently setting a record of digital customer registrations every year. Our Digital Banking app., UBL Digital, continues to set the industry standard, offering better, faster and easier digital banking services with the aim of sustaining life-long relationships with our customers. Our digital customer base currently stands at 2.9 million, including Asaan Mobile Accounts, with the number of financial transactions recording a 51 percent growth.

The bank expanded its digital product suite with the recent introduction of the auto loans facility on the app. This feature allows customers to access cars and installment plans via a simple and digitally interactive process. In just a few clicks, customers can scan a car using Augmented Reality (AR), take a 3D tour, calculate loan payments and compare different cars of their choice.

In recognition of our industry leading services, UBL was once again declared Pakistan’s Best Digital Bank by Asiamoney, an associate of Euromoney, for the third time in a row. The award is a testament to UBL’s contribution in expanding the scope of financial services through digital channels. The Bank continues to invest in digital platforms and in developing its teams that are redefining the future of banking in Pakistan.

The Bank’s Non-Fund Income (NFI) was reported at Rs 14.7 billion for H1’22, contributing 25 percent to total gross revenues. Fee revenues of Rs 7.8 billion were earned in H1’22, with an increase of 17 percent, as strong momentum was witnessed across all major businesses. The Bank remains the preferred choice for the Pakistani diaspora overseas, as we recorded a market share of over 21 percent within the home remittances space with commission income of Rs 918 million earned. The bank also maintained its strong market presence within bancassurance business as commission income was of Rs 822 million was earned and premium volumes of Rs 1.8 billion were underwritten in H1’22.

The Islamic business segment has witnessed tremendous growth in the last few years. UBL sees the Islamic space as a great opportunity for aggressive expansion and the Bank with its Islamic Banking proposition, UBL Ameen, is actively scaling up its presence. UBL Ameen’s branch network now stands at 150 branches (Dec’21: 145 branches) and is further supported by 193 Islamic Banking Windows (IBWs) within commercial branches. UBL Ameen’s deposit base closed at Rs 208 billion at Jun’21, growing by 49 percent over Dec’21, while Islamic advances averaged Rs 63 billion for H1’22, a two-folds increase over last year.

UBL International posted a PBT of $9.1 million for H1’22 as the Bank’s GCC operations now reflect stability, following specific de-risking measures over the past few years. The bank is now operating a leaner business model with emphasis in maintaining strong credit quality levels and building a foundation of low-cost funding. Asset writing remains selective, serving clients with good credit history as well as more FI and trade-based lending. Profitability this period was impacted by a provision charge on its Sri Lanka sovereign debt holdings.

UBL continues to grow in its intermediation role within the economy, as performing advances averaged Rs 640 billion in H1’22, a strong growth of 19 percent. The bank is actively working at more technology driven solutions, aiming to provide a complete customised product suite for our clients. The bank maintained its momentum in the corporate space as the average loan book recorded a growth of 14 percent.

The Bank continues to expand within the mid-market segment as the average portfolio of SME and Agri loans recorded a 17 percent growth over last year. Deepening customer relationships is helping with enhancing yields through the provision of cross sell and ancillary businesses, which enabled the Bank to record a 31 percent growth in income from trade and guarantee business and 10% growth in earnings from cash management.

Commenting on the results, Shazad G. Dada, President & CEO of UBL said: “UBL has continued to build on its growing business momentum in 2022 which has translated into our strong financial results. These results reflect the trust that our customers place in the quality of our services and the UBL brand. Our digital capabilities are recognised both locally and internationally and demonstrate our industry leading position in innovation and technology. As one of the largest financial institutions in the country and by leveraging our market leading digital capabilities, we are paving the way in broadening the scope of financial services across Pakistan. We are investing heavily in our physical and digital networks and in our people, with continuous efforts in making our service levels the best in the industry. We have also invested in and implemented global best practices in Compliance and Governance (including Financial Crime Compliance); and our framework, regtech solutions and processes are the best in class for the Banking industry in Pakistan. In addition, we are fully committed to setting exemplary ESG standards and practices in the country’s corporate landscape. UBL, I believe is very well positioned to scale even greater heights as we aim for a much larger market share and growth across all business segments in the near future.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022


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