Zim bad loans weigh down ABCH

HARARE - ABC Holdings (ABCH) says its Zimbabwean BancABC unit constituted 42 percent — BWP64 million or $6,9 million — of the banking group’s BWP152 million loan impairment charges in the half year to June 2014.

The other 58 percent was shared almost equally among its BancABC subsidiaries in Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia.

This comes as Zimbabwe’s banking sector is saddled by ballooning non-performing loans, which stood at around $700 million in June.

In the six months under review, ABCH’s impairments charges went up four percent from BWP146 million in prior comparable period.

“The group continued to have an increase in non-performing loans mostly from the Zimbabwean market which has had liquidity constraints that limited the ability of most corporates from repaying their debts on time,” said the group’s chairman, Howard Buttery.

“Management is determined to reduce impairments through both collections on delinquent customers as well as restricting lending primarily to industry leaders in each sector,” he said.

BancABC Zimbabwe’s impairment charges increased from BWP57 million to BWP64 million while gross non-performing loans increased from 9,1 percent to 25 percent.

Buttery said tough economic conditions in Zimbabwe meant they had to be “very conservative on lending, hence the low growth in loans and advances”.

The Zimbabwean unit’s attributable profit of BWP69 million was 42 percent higher than BWP48 million achieved in the half year to June 2013.

“Despite the challenging operating environment, net interest income increased by 22 percent from BWP182 million in 2013 to BWP222 million in the current period on the back of the growth in the higher yielding consumer loan book and lower cost of funds as growth in other asset categories was restricted due to increasing bad debts in the economy,” said Buttery.

BancABC Zimbabwe’s loan book declined marginally from BWP3,1 billion in June 2013 to BWP3 billion in June 2014.

The loan book stood at BWP3,1 billion in December 2013.

Deposits, however, increased to BWP3 billion from BWP2,3 billion.

Buttery said the increase was “a reflection of the difficulty that the whole financial services industry is going through”.

Non-interest income grew by 16 percent from BWP99 million in the prior year to BWP115 million in the current period from increased volumes of retail transactions.

Going forward, Buttery said they anticipate Zimbabwe’s business environment to remain challenging although its subsidiary is expected to remain profitable despite the projected slow-down in business.

“We are determined to arrest the increase in non-performing loans within the group and to this end, a special team comprising of senior members of staff that have several years of experience in successfully collecting on defaulting loans, has been set-up to deal with this challenge,” said Buttery.

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