StanChart Malaysia bullish about global economy, albeit cautiously

KUALA LUMPUR: Standard Chartered Malaysia remains cautiously optimistic on the global macroeconomic environment in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic impacting the banking sector in Malaysia and worldwide.

StanChart Malaysia managing director and chief executive officer Abrar A Anwar said as individuals and companies grappled with such uncertainty, they would find it even more important to deal with banks as the full impact of Covid-19 was expected to be felt only after it ends.

“We are actively managing our risk, capital and liquidity position to ensure that the bank remains stable and sound.

“The strong fiscal foundations we have laid are helping us in standing by our clients and we are confident that we will come out of this crisis with even greater resilience,” Abrar told the New Straits Times.

He said while the banking sector was not spared from Covid-19, a sharp slowdown of economic growth would adversely affect banks’ asset quality.

The speed and effectiveness of policy response implemented by governments can only determine and cushion the depth and duration of the impact, he added.

As a global bank with a strong presence in nearly 60 markets, StanChart was able to leverage on its wide network to spread these risks, Abrar said.

“The current disruption of supply chains provides an opportunity for us to leverage on our market presence and deep understanding of the markets we are present in to support client relationships across our network.

“On the other hand, a downturn can also act as a stimulus for some sectors to grow and we provide these businesses with the most suitable financial solutions to help them cater to incremental demand. We continue to support the growth sectors of the economy by delivering the products and services necessary to support the requirements,” he said.

The bank has committed US$1 billion financing for companies that provide goods and services to help the fight against Covid-19.

This included businesses planning to switch into making products that are in high demand to fight the global pandemic.

Such companies are manufacturers and distributors in the pharmaceutical industry and healthcare providers as well as non-medical companies that have volunteered to add this capability to their manufacturing output.

Goods include ventilators, face masks, protective equipment, sanitisers and other consumables.

“We recently helped Hovid Bhd, a leading Malaysian pharmaceuticals manufacturer, to fulfill a large order of hand sanitisers for the fight against Covid-19 on a tight timeline,” Abrar said.

Globally, StanChart also announced the launch of a US$50 million assistance fund for those affected by the pandemic.

Half has been allocated to support emergency relief in the bank’s most affected markets while the remaining US$25 million will go to helping communities recover from the economic impact of the virus over the medium term.