Standard Chartered (STAN) reported disappointing third quarter results on Tuesday. The bank generated income of $3.47 billion in the July to September quarter, down 6 percent from $3.68 billion from a year ago. Its third quarter underlying pretax profits were $458 million, compared with a $139 million loss last year. That missed the $520 million average estimate of six analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. The third quarter result did mark a second consecutive quarter of profit for the bank after an annual loss for 2015.
Standard Chartered chief executive Bill Winters called the income and profit results unacceptable. Since he was elevated to his position in June of last year, Standard Chartered has announced plans to close the bank’s stock trading business, eliminate more than 15,000 jobs, and raise $5.1 billion in capital to improve profitability. The lender has also scrapped its dividend and launched a $5 billion rights issue to bolster its common equity capital level. According to Chief Financial Officer Andy Halford, the bank will examine whether to restore the dividend before the full-year results are reported in February.
While several investment banks with strong bond trading units have posted substantial increases in third quarter earnings, Standard Chartered isn’t one of them. The bank’s financial markets business posted income of $714 million for the third quarter, up 11 percent from $645 million a year ago. Its principal finance unit lost $30 million for the quarter, following a $167 million loss in the first half of the year. In the first nine months of the year, revenues in retail were down almost 10 percent versus the same period last year. Group-wide, revenues were down 16 percent.
The company also confirmed a Hong Kong investigation into its business practices. Regulators in Hong Kong have taken a hard line against misleading or fraudulent stock market listings in recent years. Hong Kong’s financial regulator reportedly plans to take action against the bank over its role as a joint sponsor of an initial public offering in 2009. In a news release, Standard Chartered said, “If it does take action, there may be financial consequences.” The bank did not provide information on what stock offering was at issue.
Standard Chartered’s disclosure is just the latest in a series of regulatory issues it has faced worldwide in recent years. The lender has faced increased scrutiny in the United States over suspicious transactions, and has paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fines. Last month, the bank disclosed that it was facing accusations of potential wrongdoing by officials at MAXpower Group, an Indonesian power company.