Banks report lower profits on provisioning as pandemic increases bad debts

By Minh Son   April 30, 2020 | 11:30 pm PT
Banks report lower profits on provisioning as pandemic increases bad debts
Vietcombank's logo at its headquarters in Hanoi. Photo by AFP.
Half of the top 10 banks saw profits fall in the first quarter due to provisioning for bad debts caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

The most profitable lender, Vietcombank, reported a 11 percent fall year-on-year in pre-tax profit to VND5.12 trillion ($220 million). A year ago it had risen by 37 percent. Its net interest income grew by 6 percent, down from 37 percent last year.

Provisions for doubtful debts went up by 40 percent to VND2.1 trillion ($90 million) as the amount of debts overdue by 10-90 days doubled to VND5 trillion ($215 million).

The second most profitable bank, Vietinbank saw pre-tax profit dip slightly to VND2.85 trillion ($122 million) in the first quarter as provisions went up by 36 percent.

Its overdue debts rose 51 percent from the beginning of the year to nearly VND24.5 trillion ($1 billion).

Techcombank was the only lender in the top three to report higher pre-tax profits, which grew by 7 percent to VND2.56 trillion ($110 million). But its provisioning was up 4.5 times to VND766 billion ($33 million).

VPBank’s pre-tax profits doubled to VND2.07 trillion ($89 million) as income from interest, services and securities trading all rose.

BIDV, Vietnam’s largest bank by assets, fell to seventh place as pre-tax profits declined by 27 percent to VND1.65 trillion ($71 million) and provisions increased by 15 percent in the first quarter.

The fall in bank profits was expected. Deputy Governor of the State Bank of Vietnam, Dao Minh Tu, estimated earlier that state-owned banks could see profits fall by 30-40 percent this year as the government has ordered them to provide loans at lower interest to businesses affected by the pandemic.

Ratings firm Fitch Ratings recently lowered the outlook for five lenders, VietinBank, Vietcombank, ANZ Vietnam, ACB, and MB, due to the impact of Covid-19.

Last year 18 listed banks reported a combined VND110 trillion ($4.7 billion) in pre-tax profits, up 29 percent from 2018.

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