I am pleased to provide an update on the Performance of Bank One for the year ended 31 December 2022.
I would like to open with a few words of appreciation for the hard work of the Bank One team and the Board during what turned out to be an unexpectedly tough year. With the impacts of Covid receding and the world re-opening, very few people would have predicted the range of difficulties that would need to be faced during 2022. As the Chair noted in her report, these ranged from a significant spike in global inflation caused by rapidly rising energy and food prices and record breaking central bank interest rate increases that transformed the finance sector over a very short period of time. In Mauritius, the central bank raised interest rates by 265 basis points during the year to combat inflation. To address these issues the Bank One team needed to show great agility and perseverance. As one door closed the team needed to find another to open.
Bank One strategy
Leveraging the benefits of Mauritius and the sub-Saharan African (SSA) presence of its shareholders, the Bank remains very focused on its key SSA strategy. The Bank’s two shareholders, CIEL Finance and the I&M Group, own full service banks in six sub-Saharan African countries including Mauritius and have other business interests in a further four sub-Saharan African countries. This positions Bank One exceptionally well to serve its customer base in SSA and to support Mauritian businesses looking to invest on the African continent.
While not without its challenges, SSA is one of the most exciting and vibrant regions in the world. In the next 75 years, over three quarters of the world’s population growth will take place in sub-Saharan Africa. As a result, there will be an increasing need for capital and financial services to support new businesses, infrastructure, schools and healthcare facilities. Bank One is positioning itself to be at the forefront of this change and to be a trusted partner for both businesses and governments in SSA.
Progress during 2022
Despite the difficult conditions, the Bank continued to invest in developing its international platform with a focus on corporate finance, trade, payments and treasury products. Bank One now has eleven different nationalities working in the business and can provide unrivalled insight into SSA economies and businesses. I was very pleased to see that this was recognised during the year with an award for the Best International Banking Services (Indian Ocean) 2022.
The Bank’s Private Banking business had a good year in 2022 led by its strong international custody services and open architecture approach to investment solutions. The business was awarded Best Private Bank in Mauritius 2022 at the seventh annual edition of the World’s Best Private Banks Awards organised by Global Finance magazine. The Private Bank will continue to develop its reach into SSA to complement the Bank’s overall international proposition.
On the domestic front, the Personal Financial Services business had an excellent year for mortgages and is rapidly building out its cross-border proposition as it links up with the Bank’s shareholder businesses. The Mauritian Corporate Bank continues to focus on the mid-market, had real success with a new proposition to support real estate developments on the island and continues to engage with local businesses looking to invest in Africa.
Underlying the progress on the business front has been major advances around a new internet banking and mobile banking platform for both individuals and corporates, increased automation and an exciting cards project with Master Card that now offers Bank One’s clients the leading cards proposition on the island.
Despite the multiple challenges of the year, Bank One generated a positive set of results and continued to grow the business in 2022. Good traction is being seen with the Bank’s sub-Saharan African strategy.
Operating income was up by 9% in part driven by a 20% increase in customer assets and a corresponding 21% increase in interest income. While non funds income was lower than 2021, this was more of a question of timing rather than lower transaction volumes.
Costs were well controlled but rose by 8% as Bank One continues on its digital transformation journey.
Non-performing loans have been carefully monitored and the non-performing loan ratio improved further to 2.23%.
The Bank generated a PAT of Rs 493 million. An increase of 19% in 2022.
The overall capital position of the Bank remains strong with a Capital Adequacy Ratio of 17.76%.
2023 – the year ahead
The outlook for sub-Saharan Africa looks somewhat challenging in the year ahead. Food and energy shortages are likely to weigh on growth, foreign currency is expected to be scarce, the risk of debt distress in a number of countries is very real and continued high inflation mean that interest rates are likely to remain elevated throughout the year.
That said on a more global front, there is an improving sense of positivity with a number of international business leaders saying at Davos in January that they felt the prospects for their companies had been transformed from a few months ago. This growing confidence has been led by China’s decision to end its zero Covid policy spurring hopes of a bounce back in one of the world’s three large economic zones. A fall of over 80 per cent in wholesale natural gas prices is expected to be good for Europe and help fend off recession. Finally, in the US, the huge Inflation Reduction Act contains USD500 billion in new spending and tax breaks that aim to boost clean energy, reduce healthcare costs and increase tax revenues. This is expected to be a major boost for the US economy.
While early in the year, it is expected that if the global economy starts to lift in the coming months, then there will be positive spill-over into sub-Saharan Africa.
I would like to reiterate my thanks to the Bank One team and the Board of directors and recognise the support of our shareholders, our customers and regulators in 2022. Despite the difficulties of the year, the Bank has performed well in the last 12 months. A lot of good work has taken place around our sub-Saharan African strategy and building the infrastructure and human capital needed to take the business to the next level.
Thank you again for your hard work and support in 2022.
Guillaume Passebecq is an International School of Management (IDRAC) graduate who has spent his entire career in the banking sector. He started off as a Portfolio Manager at B* capital Paris, the BNP Paribas brokerage house in 1999. In 2007, he was appointed as Head of Sales at BNP Paribas Personal Investors Luxembourg. He joined AfrAsia Bank in 2014 and was subsequently appointed as Head of Private Banking.
Guillaume joined Bank One as the Head of Private Banking in March 2017. He brought along the needed expertise to uplift the Private Banking offer. Following the setting up of the International Custody Platform, Securities Services and the External Wealth Managers Desk, our clients, both high-net-worth and institutional now have the tools for their wealth management experience. The Bank’s array of clients has also been widened to accommodate Asset Managers, Investment Funds, Pension Funds, Family Offices and Financial Intermediaries through a one stop shop and open architecture model.