ADCB says post-merger integration will be completed quicker than expected

Bank begins withdrawing from international markets in India, Kuwait and Qatar

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, May 15, 2019.  Abu Dhabi stock images of banks.--
ADCB Bank.
Victor Besa/The National
Section:  BZ

Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank reported a 13 per cent decline in pro-forma net profit for the three months to September 30 as interest income fell, but said the integration of its three-way merger with Union National Bank and Al Hilal Bank was progressing much quicker than expected.

Net profit for the three months to September fell to Dh1.41 billion as operating income fell 7 per cent year-on-year to Dh3.27bn. The figures are based on results for the combined entity.

"ADCB’s end-to-end integration timeline has been reduced by half to 17 months, bringing forward the completion date to the second quarter of 2020. Building on this momentum, we have boosted shareholder value through an upward revision to our cost synergy target, from the preliminary assessment of Dh615 million to Dh840m annually," group chief executive Ala'a Eraqait said in a statement. "The bank is quickly moving to realise synergies, and our commitment to a rapid and effective integration has already delivered significant savings."

All ADCB and UNB branches as well as their ATM networks, were integrated earlier this month, the lender said, with the ADCB brand now rolled out "across all physical and digital channels".

It now has a network for 72 branches and more than 450 ATMs. The group also also said it has completed the integration of Al Hilal Bank onto its platform, although the Islamic lender will retain its own brand identity.

Results for the nine-month period show ADCB's net profit dropped 14 per cent to Dh4.2bn, as operating income fell 6 per cent to Dh9.92bn.

The bank's loan-to-deposit ratio also jumped to 95, from 91.2 at the start of the year despite net loans and advances falling 4 per cent to Dh249.53bn year-to-date. That is because deposits from customers fell 8 per cent to Dh262.53bn. The lower level of deposits was attributed to the bank's "conscious decision to exit expensive time deposits", the bank said, whereas repayments by corporate customers and fair value adjustments were the two reasons given for the decline in its loan book.

Total assets stood at Dh407bn at the end of the period.

The bank's cost-to-income ratio is higher than it was prior to the merger, which the bank said was due to higher ratios at both UNB and Al Hilal Bank. One area in which it will reduce costs, however, will be in withdrawing from international markets.

"Following the sale of the majority of our banking portfolio in India to DCB Bank, we are well on track to exit our operations in the Indian market. We have also initiated the process of exiting our operations in Qatar and Kuwait, and have informed the respective authorities accordingly," the bank's chief financial officer, Deepak Khullar, said.

ADCB's earnings "came ahead of our expectations", primarily as a result of higher fee income, Aya Abdallah, an analyst at CI Capital, said.

"The upward revision in cost synergy guidance initially marked a positive surprise. However, it was met by a slightly lower upward revision in integration costs, which served to dilute the former.  We remain vigilant for the updates pertaining to the timeline of the merger," Ms Abdallah said.