MCO: Only targeted loan moratorium after this, no blanket extension, says AmBank

Ambank group CEO Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir speaking during the Budget 2019 conference, November 9, 2018. — Picture by Razak Ghazali
Ambank group CEO Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir speaking during the Budget 2019 conference, November 9, 2018. — Picture by Razak Ghazali

KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — AMMB Holdings Bhd (AmBank Group) is looking at providing targeted moratorium on bank loan repayments to its customers after the current six-month moratorium period ends, said chief executive officer Datuk Sulaiman Mohd Tahir.

He said extending the financial relief on a blanket basis was not a wise move given the different environment during the movement control order (MCO), when Covid-19 was at its peak, versus post-MCO when most businesses resumed operations during the recovery phase.

“We should be looking at certain segments, and groups of people who require it. I am sure banks (are) in the position to also help out, in terms of people who are affected very much as the result (of the pandemic).

“However, I don’t think it is wise to go for a blanket kind of moratorium like what we did before because at the time, during the MCO, the situation was quite dire.

“But things have changed. Post-MCO we have seen activities and businesses pick up; in fact, some businesses out there say they don’t need a moratorium any more as they commence activities back as normal,” he told a virtual press conference after announcing the group’s 2020 financial year results today.

To-date, about 637,000 of the financial services group’s customers have opted in for the six-month moratorium.

Yesterday, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz said the decision whether to extend the loan moratorium in a targeted way was entirely up to the banks and they could not be forced to do so.

Meanwhile, AmBank Group’s net profit declined 10.9 per cent to RM1.34 billion in the financial year ended March 31, 2020 (FY20) as its final quarter’s earnings were impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, revenue rose to RM9.32 billion from RM9.12 billion in the previous year, mainly due to net interest income and non-interest income growth.

The group’s gross loans and financing base expanded 5.3 per cent year-on year (y-o-y) to RM107.2 billion with diversified growth in all segments and products, barring auto finance. With the exclusion of auto finance, the group’s gross loans grew 8.7 per cent in FY20.

Mortgage loans, the main driver of loans growth, increased by RM2.4 billion or 7.0 per cent during the year. This was followed by loans to the SME and mid corporate segments, business banking loans was up 12.9 per cent, mid corporate 9.5 per cent and retail SME 34.8 per cent.

Sulaiman said the bank aimed to record between 3.0 per cent and 4.0 per cent loan growth for this financial year, higher than the industry growth which was expected to be between 0.4 per cent and -2.5 per cent.

He said loan growth was quite flat at present as there was not much activity in the market and the group still had some repayments coming in.

“It will take some time for the economy to recover. Certainly, we hope the recovery will be V-shaped so that we can do business, but it is a question of system and the world situation as well.

“We are quite positive looking at the outlook in the recent month, post-MCO particularly. We see some applications coming in from certain sectors such as manufacturing to buy machinery. That is a positive sign and we hope that will continue,” he added. — Bernama

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