Solid ROE and customer dividends

– Sparebanken Sør has had a strong first quarter, with good results and a very solid return on equity. It is also gratifying to announce that we have distributed NOK 417 million in customer dividends - almost double from last year.

Says CEO Geir Bergskaug, presenting a result for the first quarter of NOK 620 million before taxes, an increase from NOK 529 million in the same period in 2023.

– A good net interest margin, positive financial income, low costs, and very low loan losses contribute to the solid 14.4 percent return on equity in the quarter.

417 million NOK in customer dividends

In the first quarter of 2023, we distributed customer dividends for the first time. Due to a solid surplus in 2023, we had the opportunity to almost double customer dividends this year.

– What's good for the bank should be good for the customers and for the region. The surplus in 2023 was solid and enabled us to transfer a total of NOK 417 million to the bank's customers in April. In addition, the surplus facilitated a record-high allocation to public donations. NOK 208 million will be used in 2024 for sustainable growth and development in the region," Bergskaug explains, promising more significant and important gifts to the region in the year the bank turns 200.

Very low loan losses and strong ROE

Despite challenging times in parts of the business sector, losses and delinquency remain low. In the first quarter, the bank had a net loan loss of NOK 6 million, compared to a net entry of NOK 5 million for the same period in 2023. With a record-high return on equity and a low cost-income ratio, Bergskaug is pleased with the quarter.

– We are a solid savings bank, and we now see a return on equity of 14.4 percent in the first quarter. Once again, we deliver a low cost-income ratio and are one of the most cost-effective banks. We have performed well at the beginning of 2024.

Solid equity, very solid leverage ratio, and new SREP decision

Sparebanken Sør had equity of NOK 16,9 billion NOK as of March 31, 2024, and a Leverage ratio of 9.3 percent.

– The Group received the decision from Finanstilsynet (FSA) on April 30. regarding capital requirements under pilar 2 (SREP – Supervisory Review and Evaluation Process and Pillar 2). The decision is effective from May 31, 2024. The new pillar 2 requirement amounts to 1.6 percent of the pillar 1 calculation base, which is 0.1 percentage points lower than the current SREP decision from 2022 (1.7 percent). At least 56.25 percent must be covered by common equity tier 1 capital ratio, while 75 percent must be covered by tier 1 capital. Additionally, Finanstilsynet considers that the Group should have a capital requirement margin of 1.0 percent in form of total common equity tier 1 capital ratio above the total requirement for total common equity tier 1, tier 1 capital ratio, and total capital ratio, Bergskaug explains.

Good momentum into the second quarter

Net interest income amounted to NOK 824 million in the first quarter of 2024, compared to NOK 712 million in the first quarter of 2023.

– The interest rate affects the bank's net interest income. The interest rate changes over the past year have led to increased interest margins, both for the personal and business markets. We have had positive deposit and loan growth over the last 12 months and are off to a good start in the second quarter.

Highlights from Q1 2024 (Q1 2023 in parentheses)

  • Profit before tax: NOK 620 million (NOK 529 million)
  • Return on equity: 14.4 percent (12.5 percent)
  • Net interest income: NOK 824 million (NOK 712 million)
  • Net profits financial instruments: NOK 39 million (NOK -4 million)
  • Income from associated companies and subsidiaries: NOK 5 million (NOK 34 million)
  • Operating expenses: NOK 330 million (NOK 304 million)
  • Net losses on loans: NOK 6 million (NOK -5 million)