Equity and Standard Chartered banks have become the first top lenders to record drops of 14% and 16.6% in their first quarter earnings respectively.
Equity which is Kenya’s second-largest bank by assets, said first-quarter net profit declined to Sh5.2 billion, compared to Sh6.1 billion in a similar period last year which the bank has blamed on the rise of bad loans.
The drop is majorly attributed to the impacts of Covid-19 pandemic which has slowed or shutdown business activities leading to an increase in loan defaults across Kenya’s banking sector.
Equity’s non-performing loans shot to Sh44.6 billion from Sh29.3 billion, pushing the lenders to increase costs linked to defaults to Sh3.1 billion from Sh409 million in the same period in 2019.
“Covid-19 pandemic has mutated into a global economic crisis, occasioned by a sudden standstill in economic activity as a result of the global lockdown. This has introduced unprecedented uncertainty within the global financial systems, prompting us to adopt a conservative approach fortifying our balance sheet and assuring ample liquidity to support our customers,” said Equity C.E.O James Mwangi.
StanChart reported a net profit of Sh2 billion in the review period but reported Sh2.4 billion profit during the same period last year. The drop the bank has attributed to reduced income, increased operating expenses and decrease in interest and non-interest income.
Total interest income has gone down to Sh6.1 billion from last year’s Sh6.88 billion while non-interest income dropped to Sh4.7 from Sh 4.97 billion in the review period.
Operational expenses have gone up by 3% to Sh3.6 billion due to investments technology but loan loss provision shot to Sh428 million year-on-year.
The World Bank predicts that Kenya’s economic growth will slow down to 1.5% this year as Covid-19 pandemic saps demand from trading partners like Europe and disrupts supply chains and domestic production.
This has resulted to job cuts, reduced cash flow for businesses and unpaid leaves whi eventually leads to loan defaults.
Equity Bank, which has restructured 25.1% (Sh92 billion) of its loan book due to the Covid-19 pandemic, opted to recall a proposed dividend payout of Sh2.50 per share or a total of Sh9.4 billion to conserve cash as the covid-19 pandemic continues to bite.