By Fatoumatta K. Jallow & Alhagie Sora
Standared Chartered Bank, a leading International Bank in the Gambia, on Thursday, 30 June, 2016 held its 38 Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the Kairaba Beach Hotel in Kololi.
The purpose of the event, among others, was the adoption of the financial statement of the Bank as of 30th December 2015, approval of the remuneration of directors, appointment of the chairman, directors and the auditors of the Bank for the following financial year.
As a leading international banking group with over 165 employees, banking with people and companies, delivering investment, trade and also creation of wealth across Asia, Africa and the middle East, Standard Chartered Bank registered significant improvement both interns of profit and human resources thus maintaining their heritage and values as indicated in their promise ‘Here for good’.
Mr. Momodou B.A. Senghore, the outgoing chairman of the bank, who has stirred the affairs of the bank for the past 16 years, said that the dramatic currency fluctuations and sluggish demand from China and Europe (Africa’s largest trade partners) put pressure on the region’s economies. “As a result growth in Sun-Saharan Africa slowed to 3.5 percent in 2015, reflecting the impact of lower commodity prices and higher borrowing costs,” he said.
The Standard Chartered Chair noted that this has weighed heavily on some of the region’s largest economies as well as a number of smaller commodity exporters, adding that this and many other factors made 2015 a challenging year for the local economy as well as tourism and agriculture sectors. He said the impact of these factors, coupled with significantly lower volume of foreign currency transactions within the banking industry, was reflected in their performance during the year. ‘’We maintained our strategic focus on the basics of banking in a very challenging period and delivered creditable results,” said the Standard Chartered Board Chair.
Mr. Senghore revealed that the bank’s profit before tax was GMD103 million, while operating income was GMD 518 million and earnings per share was 32 bututs under the year under review.
“We are recommending a dividend of 24 Butut per share after making adjustments for statutory reserve. Despite a subdued global economy resulting from continued damping of commodity prices and slowdown in the Chinese economy, our outlook for 2016 in the domestic market is optimistic,’’ he said.
Standard Chartered Board Chair expressed hope that recovery in the tourism and improved agricultural output will drive the economic growth in 2016.
Isatou Jagne Kolley, the Financial Controller of Standard Chartered Bank, noted the numerous challenges they face such as falling global commodity prices combined with slower growth in the market as a result of the impact of Ebola on the 2014/2015 tourist reason and reduction of agricultural output which challenged the banks pressure on cost.
“As a result, we posted a lower income year-on-year and pre-tax profit also slipped as compared to last year’s performance,’ he added’.
Mr. Albert Saltson, the Chief Executive Officer of Standard Chartered Bank, said although performance for the year 2015 was subdued, management has taken assertive steps to address these challenges both at a group and country level. He added that in 2015, Standard chartered as a group announced a refreshed strategy designed to make the bank more resilient to external shocks, and able to deliver better and more sustainable results.
‘’Our bank is today leaner and a more focused with a better optimized asset book and a more liquid balance sheet than before,” he said..
The Standard Chartered Board CEO said the group strengthens its focus on Africa as a powerhouse region and is well positioned to benefit from increased investments in our region’s people and systems.
‘’We will address our performance issues and reposition our business on a strengthened platform with our new strategy, even though we have made good progress in a number of areas. Though much work still needs to be done during 2016 and beyond,” said Mr. Saltson.
Mr. Pierre Walter Cherry, Esq., Head of Admin/Marketing of the Gambia National Insurance Company (GNIC), delivered vote thanks.