KBC Group: First-quarter result of 556 million euros

Outside trading hours - Regulated information*

  • Good performance turned in by the commercial bank-insurance franchises in our core markets and core activities.
  • Lending volumes went up 1% quarter-on-quarter and 5% year-on-year, with year-on-year increases in all business units. Deposits – excluding debt certificates – rose by 2% quarter-on-quarter and by 7% year-on-year, again with year-on-year increases in all business units.
  • On a comparable basis, net interest income remained virtually unchanged (-1%) quarter-on-quarter, and improved by 4% year-on-year, thanks in part to lower funding costs, repo rate increases in the Czech Republic, loan volume growth, and the positive effect of the consolidation of UBB/Interlease.
  • The technical income from our non-life insurance activities increased by 7% quarter-on-quarter, but was down 16% year-on-year (due to several factors, including the January storms in Belgium). The combined ratio for the first quarter of the year amounted to 90%, compared to 88% for full year 2017. Sales of our life insurance products fell by 15% on the seasonally strong previous quarter, but were up 5% on the first quarter of 2017.
  • Our net fee and commission income remained strong. It was down slightly (-1%) on its quarter-earlier level, and down 3% on its year-earlier level, both on a comparable basis.   
  • On a comparable basis, all other income items combined were up 60% quarter-on-quarter, as the last quarter of 2017 had included an additional provision of 61.5 million euros related to the industry wide review of tracker rate mortgages originated in Ireland before 2009. Year-on-year, all other income items combined fell by 20%, due primarily to the lower level of trading and fair value income.
  • The comparison of costs is distorted by the fact that the bulk of special bank taxes for full year 2018 are booked in the first quarter. Disregarding bank taxes, costs were down 6% quarter on-quarter. Year-on-year, they increased by 6%, though that was caused in part by the inclusion of UBB/Interlease. When bank taxes are spread evenly throughout the year, the cost/income ratio amounted to 55% in the quarter under review, in line with the figure recorded for full year 2017. 
  • The quarter benefited from a 63-million-euro release of loan loss provisions, mainly on account of Ireland. Consequently, our annualised cost of credit amounted to a very favourable -0.15% (a negative figure indicates a positive impact on the results), compared to -0.06% registered for full year 2017.
  • Our liquidity position remained strong, as did our capital base, with a common equity ratio of 15.9% (fully loaded, Danish compromise).

See the full press release in attachment.

Johan Thijs - Chief Executive Officer

We recorded a net profit of 556 million euros in the first quarter of 2018. A very good result indeed, despite the fact that  we booked the bulk of the bank taxes for the full year in the first quarter (371 million euros in 1Q2018). Driven by the commercial performance of our core activities, our total income was up quarter-on-quarter, while costs
– excluding bank taxes – were down on the seasonally high last quarter of the year. Both our life and non-life businesses grew significantly year-on-year. Finally, we were able to release some loan loss provisions once again, due mainly to our Irish mortgage book. 

In the quarter under review, we completed the acquisition of the remaining 40% stake in the life insurance joint venture between our subsidiary UBB and MetLife in Bulgaria. This reaffirms our position as a strong, local market player that is able to offer a full range of bank-insurance products to our Bulgarian clients in an omni-channel environment. It will undoubtedly help in making UBB and DZI a genuine reference bank-insurance group in Bulgaria, which will ultimately benefit its clients, employees and all other stakeholders.

With the aim of further improving client experience, we have continued developing innovative client-centric solutions that make our clients’ lives easier. To name just one example, we were the first bank in Belgium to add multi-banking possibilities to our KBC Mobile app following the opportunities created by PSD2. A few weeks after their introduction, we are delighted to say that we received an enthusiastic response from our clients.

We also strive to make a positive contribution to society through our financing activities. For example, it is our ambition to increase our renewable energy portfolio to over 50% of our total energy sector portfolio by 2030 (currently this stands at 41%). Moreover, at the beginning of this year, we decided to update various KBC sustainability policies, which will be implemented in June. Finally, as part of our new KBC credit energy policy, we announced that we would exit the coal sector and reduce the current exposure to coal-based electricity production to zero by 2023 at the latest.  

Last but not least, the European economic environment has remained attractive, with solid growth and low inflation. However, now that sentiment indicators have fallen from their recent highs, the period of accelerating growth has probably come to an end. The risk of further economic de-globalisation, with escalating trade conflicts and geopolitical tensions are the main factors that could impede European economic growth. We are convinced, however, that we have a more than solid starting position in that economic arena, thanks to the sustained efforts we have made in recent years to put the client at the centre of everything we do, coupled with our excellent solvency and liquidity position. 

In closing, I'd like to take this opportunity again to thank all the stakeholders who have put their trust in us and assure them that we will do everything possible to move even closer to achieving our ultimate goal of being the reference bank-insurer in all our core markets.                                                                                                                                                                       


* This news item contains information that is subject to the transparency regulations for listed companies.         


About KBC Group

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KBC Group
Havenlaan 2
B - 1080 Brussels