RETAIL BANKING | Cesar Tordesillas, Singapore

Singapore's UOB ups Q1 profit by 12%

United Overseas Bank Ltd posted 12 percent rise in quarterly profit due to higher loan margins and fees.


The Singapore-based bank earned S$688 million or US$550.73 million in the first quarter ended March, up from S$612 million a year ago. The results beat the S$632 million average estimate of seven analysts surveyed by Reuters.

"We are executing to plan and we are harnessing our regional footprint and expertise to pursue growth opportunities that are right for our business," said Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Wee Ee Cheong.

UOB has been trying to grow its wealth management business by focusing on the region's affluent rather than wealthy customers.

The bank also concentrated on improving loan margins, which widened to 1.98 percent in the three months ended March from 1.95 percent in the last quarter of 2011.

"Loans growth for first quarter 2012 was subdued as the group continued to focus on a quality loans book balanced with risk-adjusted returns," UOB said in a statement.

Customer loans grew 21 percent from a year ago to S$144.88 billion, but were up just 2.6 percent from the previous quarter.

The bank, which is also active in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, had reported loans growth of 25 percent for the whole of 2011.

UOB's fee and commission income increased 11 percent to S$362 million quarter-on-quarter, helped by contributions from loan-related activities, the sale of wealth management products and corporate finance activities.

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