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AgBank posts slower profit growth in 2014

AGRICULTURAL Bank of China, the country's forth-largest bank by assets, posted a slower yearly profit growth and a rising bad loan ratio in 2014, facing a concern over the quality of the bank's assets under a cooling economy.

The Beijing-based lender posted 179.5 billion yuan in profits in 2014, up 7.9 percent from a year earlier, lower than a 14.5 percent growth in 2013, according to statement filed to Shanghai and Hong Kong stock exchanges.

Non-performing loan ratio rose to 1.54 percent at the end of last September, from 1.22 percent in the same period in 2013. While the official average bad loan ratio for commercial banks was 1.29 per cent for the year.

The bad loan ratio would likely continue to climb in 2015, Song Xianping, the bank’s chief risk officer, said on Tuesday, adding that if non-performing loans can be kept at 2 percent during this period, "that would be a good result.”

In total, the bank took about 68 billion yuan in impairment losses on assets last year, a steep 28 percent increase on the year before.

"The non-performing loans grew faster than our expectation," Li Yamin, analyst at Ping An Securities Co in Shanghai said in a yesterday report. "This reflects a weaker retailing and manufacturing. Asset quality pressures will still be there and won't be improved until 2016."

Li predicted that Agbank's profit growth will further slow to 1.2 percent in 2015 and 6.7 percent in 2016.

Other Chinese lenders also face the pressure of keeping the quality of their assets amid the country's coolest economy in 24 years.

China CITIC Bank, the banking sector of China's largest state-backed conglomerate, posted only 3.9 percent profit growth in 2014, shrink deeply from a 26 percent growth in 2013. China Merchants Bank posted 8.1 percent growth to 55.9 billion yuan in 2014, marking its first single-digit growth in more than five years.


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