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Stan Chart posts 9 percent rise in half yearly profits


The investment bank's CFO also said it was stepping up investment and hiring

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Standard Chartered reported a 9 percent rise in half yearly pre-tax profits on Wednesday, marking a decade of record profits as the bank announced it was increasing headcount and investment.

The bank is making the most of a retreat by rivals from its core Asian markets, after a strong first six months set it up for a 10th straight year of record profits.

The London-based bank plans to add 1,000 to 1,500 jobs and increase investment spending by about $100 million in the second half of 2012, its finance director Richard Meddings said.

The bank has ridden on Asia's rise through the last decade, allowing it to continue hiring and posting earnings growth when much of the industry was shrinking.

StanChart said its pretax profit in the half year to the end of June was $3.95 billion, up 9 percent from a restated $3.64 billion a year ago. It was above the average forecast of $3.7 billion from analysts and in line with the company's guidance in June.

Chief executive Peter Sands said recession and problems in western economies had slowed growth in Asia, but he was confident growth in the region would continue, albeit with "some bumps in the road".

"We have had a strong July, but we are watchful of the significant and growing challenges in the external world, and we are managing risk tightly," Sands said.

The bank, which started life financing trade between Europe and Asia and Africa, is picking up trade finance business as European rivals shrink or pull back closer to home, and it plans to build up corporate finance teams in China and Africa.

By 0934 GMT, Standard Chartered's London shares were up 3.65 percent at 15.18 pounds, outperforming a 0.1 percent rise by the European banking index . The shares are up more than 7 percent this year, compared to a flat bank sector, to value the bank at $55 billion, making it Europe's fourth biggest.

photo credit: Reuters

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