Citadele Group announced its results for the first half of 2018, with a 20% net profit increase, improved net interest income and release of innovative solutions for customers to support their growth and provide convenient banking.
Overall Citadele Group’s performance in the first half of 2018 was primarily driven by increased net interest income from the Baltic loan portfolio growth, and some improvements in portfolio margins. The Group’s net interest income grew by 10% to EUR 39.9 million. Net profit continued to grow with 20% increase year-on-year to EUR 18.0 million.
Guntis Beļavskis, CEO, Citadele, commented: “In the first six months of this year, we continued to strengthen Citadele’s position as the innovator of financial services in the Baltics. Similar to what we already provided for private customers, we were also the first in the Baltics to let businesses to check their credit rating, available microloan and interest rate online. We were the first in Latvia to introduce the use of biometric functions to confirm payments through the bank’s mobile app supporting both facial recognition and fingerprints. At the same time, we continue our lending strategy in-line with our goal of being the leading banking service provider in the Baltics.”
Increased loans to Baltic businesses and retail customers
Consistent with its goal to be the leading banking service provider in the Baltics, the Group increased loans to corporate, SMEs and private individuals in all three Baltic States in H1 2018, achieving 3% growth year-on-year in the Group’s net loan portfolio reaching EUR 1.36 billion. In the first half of 2018, EUR 221 million of new loans were granted across the Baltics by the Group.
EUR 126 million of new loans were granted in Latvia in H1 2018 by the Group. In Lithuania EUR 69 million were granted in new loans in H1 2018. In Estonia a total of EUR 26 million were granted in new loans.
Citadele Group’s capital adequacy ratio (CAR) was 18.0% as at 30 June 2018. The Group’s liquidity position also remains strong, with the Group’s LCR at 279% and its loan-to-deposit ratio at 51% at the end of H1.
Increase in domestic deposits
Citadele is pleased with the progress made since 31 December 2017 in the Baltic market where the Group increased domestic deposits by EUR 131 million. Non-domestic customer business continued to be scaled back and resulted in a decrease of overall deposits in the first half of 2018. As of 30 June 2018, the Group’s deposits were EUR 2.65 billion; a reduction of 9% compared with 31 December 2017.
Innovative digital banking solutions
In 2018 Citadele continued to invest in digital banking technologies and customer services.
The Group continued to launch and improve digital solutions, products and services to meet customers’ expectations in multiple channels: online bank and mobile application, upgraded functionality of contactless payment terminals, and new touchscreen ATMs.
Citadele became the first bank in Latvia to offer mobile app payment confirmation using facial recognition. The bank also introduced Face ID and Touch ID for mobile app log-in, payment authorization and card security management, allowing for fast, convenient and secure client interaction. A new kind of debit card in Latvia – X smart – was introduced.
To support small and medium business (SME) customers and to make banking easier, Citadele was the first bank in the Baltics to introduce a new online tool to determine individual credit ratings for businesses – similar to the Bank’s previously introduced individual credit rating functionality for private customers. Citadele’s new feature enables SME clients to focus more on their businesses by easily determining their eligibility and terms for a microloan online. The online tool enables any Latvian SME business to quickly discover its available microloan amount as well as the offered interest rate, regardless of its primary bank.
Citadele Bank’s subsidiary CBL Asset Management launched a new pension plan “CBL Millennials Life Cycle Plan”. The plan has an investment strategy that over time dynamically adjusts to the clients’ age, and comes with lower management fees. The new pension plan was specially developed for those born between 1980 and 1990.
Thanks to the Group’s strong reputation in AML and compliance as well as the Group’s prior experience of working in collaboration with the Deposit Guarantee Fund on the disbursement of state-guaranteed compensation, Citadele was entrusted by the Financial Capital Market Commission to facilitate pay-outs of state-guaranteed compensation to AS ABLV Bank depositors from 3 March 2018.
This track record of risk management and regulatory compliance was further underlined by Moody's Investors Service (Moody’s) commentary published in February 2018, which highlighted the Group’s strong position to withstand the pressure that may have grown from events impacting the Latvian banking sector, its growth in the Baltic states and reduced transactions in the CIS. Moody’s published an update to their credit analysis in April 2018,
maintaining its positive outlook and noting that the bank has built a sustainable franchise that can support continued growth.
In 2018, Citadele undertook an independent external AML audit. It was noted that Citadele has implemented leading practices, which demonstrates its position as a leader in AML compliance in the Baltic region.