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Hatton National Bank PLC continued its growth momentum with Group PBT increasing by 92% to Rs 3Bn and Group Profit after Tax (PAT) increasing by 79% to Rs 2Bn in Q1 2015.

Commenting on the strong performance, Jonathan Alles, Managing Director/CEO of HNB PLC stated that “we are pleased with the robust growth recorded during the first quarter of 2015 amidst volatile market conditions. This strong overall performance, amply demonstrates the clear strategic focus of the Bank, delivering sustainable value to all stakeholders”. He further stated that “our efforts on driving sales through dedicated teams, continuously improving process efficiency and innovations in digital banking have enabled the Bank to record superior performance”.

The loan book grew by over Rs 12Bn during the first 3 months of 2015 with net loans and advances recording a growth of 13% YoY, despite a slowdown in overall demand for credit compared to what was witnessed during the latter part of 2014. This loan book expansion was funded through the deposit growth of over Rs 16.5Bn during the first quarter. The Bank’s focus and efforts on mobilizing low cost deposits despite intense competition within the industry enabled the Bank to record a YoY growth of 29% in the rupee CASA base with the CASA ratio improving to 47%. The landmark long term loan facility of USD 100Mn obtained recently from ADB, will further supplement the deposit growth during the year, and would assist in funding infrastructure development in the country, boosting economic growth.

Interest income of the Bank reduced by 11% during the period under consideration on account of the drop in interest rates while the interest expenses dropped at a faster pace due to the same and the shift towards low cost deposits as mentioned above. This enabled the Bank to cushion the impact on interest margins from drop in interest rates.

HNB’s continued focus on growing fee and commission income from multiplesources resulted in the net fee and commission income improving by 11% to Rs 1.3Bn during Q1 2015. The growth was mainly through, trade facilities, remittances and increased credit card volumes.

In Q1 2014, due to the drop in gold prices, the Bank incurred interest and capital losses on account of pawning. In the absence of same in the current period, the collective impairment reduced in Q1 2015 to Rs 407.8Mn.

The Bank’s on-going initiatives on improving operational efficiency through centralization, automation and process improvements, continued to yield results as was seen last year, with the Bank containing the increase in operating expenses to 3% YoY. As a result the profit before tax of the Bank improved to Rs 2.7Bn while the profit after tax for the Bank grew to Rs1.8Bn.

In addition to the other Group companies, the investment in Prime Grameen Microfinance Ltd., in November 2014 led to the sound growth in Group profits.

During the quarter, HNB was acknowledged by the prestigious ‘Asian Banker’ magazine as the ‘Best Retail Bank in Sri Lanka’at the ‘Excellence in Financial Services Awards’ held in March 2015, for the 7th time.