Standard Chartered profits hit record $8.6 billion

LONDON (REUTERS) - Standard Chartered notched up a 10th successive record year with a 1 per cent profit increase in 2012, just below expectations after a big fine for breaking sanctions on Iran countered strong growth in Asia.

London-listed Standard Chartered on Tuesday reported a pretax profit of US$6.9 billion (S$8.6 billion) for 2012, up from US$6.8 billion in 2011 but short of the average analyst forecast of US$7 billion.

The bank, which has ridden Asia's rise through the last decade, said it hired just over 2,000 staff last year. It has said it could expand by a similar amount this year.

"Standard Chartered remains a growth story and we are sticking to our strategy, focusing on the basics of good banking, in markets we know well, with clients and customers with whom we have deep relationships," Chairman John Peace said.

The group's operations in China and wholesale banking business in Africa achieved US$1 billion of income for the first time, it said.

The bank said it had started the new year with strong momentum in both its businesses and was confident for the year ahead. It said consumer banking income was well ahead of the same period last year and wholesale banking client income is also ahead, with good levels of client activity.

Standard Chartered said it cut its bonus pool by 7 per cent after its US$667 million fine from US regulators for breaching its sanctions on Iran and three other countries.

Shares in Standard Chartered were up 3.8 per cent at 0830 GMT, outperforming a 1.6 per cent rise in the European bank index.

The bank is paying a dividend of 84 cents per share, up 10.5 per cent on the previous year.

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