Republic Financial Holdings Ltd recorded a $543 million profit for the half-year ended March 31. While still significant, it is $240 million – or 30.6 per cent – lower than last year’s half-year profits.
In a statement Wednesday, Republic said these results reflect preliminary estimates of the financial impact of the covid19 pandemic on the group as a result of increased operating expenses during the latter half of March 2020. Republic also set aside an additional $367.7 million for the first half of Fiscal 2020 to cover potential future losses (2019 – $134.7 million).
Total assets stood at $98.4 billion at March 31, 2020, an increase of $15 billion or 17.9 per cent over the total assets at March 31, 2019, reflecting mainly the acquisition of Scotiabank’s operations in St Maarten and the Eastern Caribbean (except Antigua and Barbuda) on November 1, 2019. This added $12.7 billion to the group’s asset base. The acquisition of Scotiabank’s banking operations in the British Virgin Islands remains ongoing, with the group presently engaged with the regulator in that territory to obtain the requisite approval.
Republic’s president, Nigel Baptiste, said via the release that the bank was “cognizant of its responsibility to help clients, staff, and communities navigate these unique challenges.” The group implemented several measures, he said, including loan payment moratoriums, waivers for fees and charges, and interest rate reductions on loans and advances including credit cards. The group has also contributed a total of US$2 million to national covid19 initiatives across the territories in which it operates.
Baptiste stressed the importance of a prudent approach given the many uncertainties as a result of the pandemic.
“Notwithstanding the public health measures implemented to date, there is uncertainty globally in respect of the intensity and duration of this crisis, and it is unclear what the social, economic and market conditions will be like once the crisis is over. Prudence, therefore, requires that financial institutions adopt a defensive posture to preserve the stability of individual institutions and the integrity of the overall financial system.” Until the full repercussions are clearer, and to preserve the capital available to the group, he said Republic’s board of directors agreed to a reduced interim dividend payment of $0.60 per share (2019 – $1.25), payable on June 5.
“Republic Financial Holdings is well-placed to make a major contribution to the regional recovery effort and is fully committed to doing so. We will seek to balance the interests of all our stakeholders as we all shoulder the responsibility of restoring sustainable growth to the territories in which we operate,” Baptiste said.