SINGAPORE - United Overseas Bank (UOB) reported a 10 per cent rise in net profit to $1.01 billion for the fourth quarter, from a year ago, as it continues to build on Asean growth.
The bank's total dividend for the financial year that ended Dec 31 stood at $1.30 per ordinary share, according to an UOB statement on Friday (Feb 21).
Directors recommended a final dividend of $0.55 and a special dividend of $0.20 per ordinary share, subject to approval.
The bank's total income between October and December last year was $2.4 billion, up 10 per cent from 2018, on the back of stronger growth from net interest and net fee incomes.
Chief executive Wee Ee Cheong said that UOB will continue to invest in Asean even as the region weathers the fall-out from the coronavirus outbreak which began in Wuhan.
"(The investment) will enable us to emerge stronger from these trying times and to scale up our franchise across the region," said Mr Wee, who is also the bank's deputy chairman.
The group recorded an 8 per cent growth in non-Singapore income for its wholesale banking business, Mr Wee noted in a presentation to analysts and the media on Friday.
UOB is Singapore's third largest bank, after DBS Bank and OCBC Bank.
The bank expects to break into Indonesia's digital bank market this year with its digital-only product TMRW that was first launched in Thailand in March 2019.
Mr Wee said that the market opportunity in Asean is worth $10 billion, based on the lifetime value of young professionals in the region.
The bank's TMRW in Indonesia will go head-on with DBS' digibank that was launched in South-east Asia's largest economy with at least a two-year headstart.
For the quarter, net interest income increased 2 per cent to $1.64 billion led by loan growth of 3 per cent, the bank noted.
Net fee and commission income increased 2 per cent to $476 million, driven by its wealth management business and higher credit cards fees, it added.
Trading and investment income rose to $224 million from S$59 million a year ago, led by investment securities on market recovery and stronger customer flows, UOB said.
Total expenses increased 13 per cent to $1.12 billion with the cost-to-income ratio at 45.9, it added.
The bank's non-performing loan ratio remained at 1.5 per cent as of Dec 31 last year.
On a full-year basis, UOB recorded an 8 per cent jump in net profit from a year ago to a high of $4.3 billion.