UPDATE 2-Standard Chartered in 1.8 bln pound rights issue
Reuters - 24 minutes ago
HONG KONG/SINGAPORE, Nov 24 - UK-based lender Standard Chartered Plc <STAN.L> on Monday announced a 1.8 billion pound rights issue that it said would strengthen its balance sheet and give it the flexibility to take advantage of opportunities in the current turbulent markets.
The move by the emerging markets-focused bank, which has dodged the massive losses from the credit crisis suffered by some of its competitors, came as analysts called for a capital cushion to withstand potential losses in Asia and the Middle East.
Standard Chartered said its biggest shareholder, Singapore state investment company Temasek [TEM.UL], planned to take up its rights and was also participating in the underwriting of the issue, which it said addressed market expectations for higher capital levels.
"If you compare Standard Chartered to a few of its peers, it doesn't really have toxic assets," said Kwok Chern-Yeh, a fund manager at Aberdeen Asset Management Asia, which owns Standard Chartered shares and manages about $37 billion in assets.
"But it has made quite a few acquisitions in the last year and a half so it is shoring up its capital," he said.
The issue price of 390 pence per share comes at a discount of 48.7 percent to its Nov 21 closing price. In Hong Kong, the bank's shares fell 6.38 percent to HK$88.00 each and were suspended shortly after the rights issue announcement.
Kwok said Standard Chartered's exposure to Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan and India made it vulnerable to potential losses from bad debts.
"The concern is that they may have to take some provisions amidst this downturn in the economic cycle, which will hit their bottom line," he said.
The bank said in a statement that it had continued to perform strongly in the second half, and that it remained well-capitalised and highly liquid and comfortably met capital requirements across all its geographies. It said it had good income momentum, albeit slower than in the first half.
"Despite the extraordinary events of the last few months, which have left no major financial institution unaffected, the financial performance and asset quality of the Group remain strong," the bank said in a separate statement.
Standard Chartered planned to hold a conference call and webcast at 0900 GMT on Monday. (Reporting by Tony Munroe and Saeed Azhar; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Jonathan Hopfner)
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