JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s Nedbank said on Wednesday it was hopeful the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic were in the past and that bad debts would fall in the next six months, after reporting an almost 70% decline in half-year profit.
The lender had in August already flagged a massive hit to its interim profit citing a spike in bad debt charges due to the coronavirus outbreak.
The company on Wednesday warned that profit for the full-year would likely fall by at least 20% and credit losses would be well above what was expected earlier this year, but added that things would improve going forwards.
“We are hopeful that the worst impacts of COVID-19 and the (Great Lockdown Crisis) are behind us and that impairments in the second half will be lower,” Nedbank said in its results statement.
The bank said its headline earnings per share – the main profit measure in South Africa – stood at 438 cents ($0.2605) in the six months to June 30 compared with 1,435 cents a year earlier.
That was mainly due to a hefty impairment charge for bad debts, which increased by 202% to almost 7.7 billion rand ($458.46 million), some of which was a provision for potential future losses.
The company said it was in the process of developing new business plans for the next three to five years and would update investors on these, as well as give revised medium-term targets at its full-year results in March.
It added that it was unlikely to declare a dividend as long as the guidance from the central bank, which asked lenders to hold off on paying out to preserve capital, remains in place.
($1 = 16.7955 rand)