Since its incorporation in 1935, United Overseas Bank (SGX:U11), or UOB for short, have grown to become one of the leading banks in Asia, along with being rated as one of the world’s top banks.
Currently, the bank have a global network of around 500 offices in 19 countries and territories in Asia Pacific (1 in Australia, 2 in Brunei, 3 in Hong Kong, 2 in India, 134 in Indonesia, 2 in Japan, 21 in Mainland China, 59 in Malaysia, 2 in Myanmar, 1 in Philippines, 70 in Singapore, 1 in South Korea, 2 in Taiwan, 152 in Thailand, and 8 in Vietnam), Europe (1 in France, and 1 in United Kingdom), and North America (3 in United States), where they provide a wide range of financial services through their 3 core business segments – Group Retail, Group Wholesale Banking, and Group Global Markets.
Following the conclusion of its financial year ended 31 December 2022 (you can check out my review of the bank’s fourth quarter and full-year results here), UOB have released its annual report yesterday evening (23 March 2023), along with its notice of annual general meeting (AGM.)
For the benefit of those who do not have the time to through the entire report, you’ll find key takeaways of it in this post, together with details about its upcoming AGM:
Summaries from Chairman Wong Kan Seng’s Statement, and Deputy Chairman & CEO Mr Wee Ee Cheong’s Report
Strong Financial Performance:
- Despite the uncertainties, UOB still managed to report a total income of $11.6 billion, along with a record high core net profit of $4.8 billion (even if one-off expenses relating to the acquisition of Citigroup’s Malaysia and Thailand consumer businesses were included, its net profit was also at a record high of $4.6 billion.)
- The resiliency in its results were boosted by a 31% surge in its net interest income to $8.3 billion (driven mainly by loan growth of 3%, and high net interest margin – which expanded 30 basis points to 1.86%), along with a 4% growth in its other non-interest income (driven by its customer-related treasury income.) However, this was offset by a 9% decline in its net fee and commission income, as wealth and fund management fees were impacted by muted investor sentiments amid market volatility.
- Its asset quality remained resilient, with non-performing loans steady at 1.6% as at 31 December 2022. Non-performing assets coverage remains strong at 98% (or 207%) after taking collateral into account. The Group continued to take a prudent approach to maintain performing loan coverage at 1%.
- Post-Citigroup acquisition, UOB’s Common Equity Tier-1 Capital Adequacy Ratio remained strong at 13.3% as at 31 December 2022, well above the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s (MAS) minimum requirement.
- Finally, given the bank’s robust performance, the Board recommends a final dividend of 75 cents, which takes the total dividend for 2022 to $1.35/share (FY2022: $1.20/share.)
Sharpening its Strategic Focus:
- The Board approved the Group’s sharpened purpose (to build capabilities to support 3 key growth drivers in the region, namely connectivity, personalisation, and sustainability), along with a regional brand refresh campaign, which was launched in September called ‘Doing Right By You’ – where initiatives focused on building the future for its customers, colleagues, and community stakeholders across the region.
- To scale up its regional business, the bank acquired Citigroup’s consumer banking businesses in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam, which will double its retail customer base in ASEAN, and accelerate its growth by 5 years, along with turbocharging the bank’s scale in the region and lifting its market position swiftly.
- On people strategies, apart from having flexibility and well-being (to help them realise their full potential in whatever they do) as baseline standards, it has also introduced ‘The UOB Way’ in 2022 to strengthen its people culture and build employee pride. Such initiatives positions the bank well as it charts its next phase of growth.
- Sustainability is also another area of focus for the bank, to which they have achieved carbon neutrality in its operations in 2021. In 2022, they have laid out a comprehensive roadmap to reach Net Zero carbon emissions by 2050. As a start, its plans cover 6 sectors (which make up 60% of its corporate lending portfolio): power, automotive, oil and gas, real estate, construction, and steel.
- In order to help the bank stay abreast of other growth opportunities, the Board paid attention to blockchain and digital asset developments, and supported the management on key digital transformation initiatives, resulting in new services being launched across the region in 2022.
Maintaining a Strong Risk Culture:
- As the pandemic entered a new phase and governments scaled back support measures, the Board and Management monitored the situation closely, paying particular attention to asset quality across the Group.
- At the same time, given the ongoing and emerging economic, political, and environmental uncertainties, the management have conducted regular stress-tests on various scenarios.
An Exciting Southeast Asia:
- 2022 was a year where Covid-19 restrictions have finally been lifted in many parts of the world, but supply chain disruptions and geopolitical tensions drove up food and energy prices – resulting in inflation remaining stubbornly high and central banks around the world raising interest rates at unprecedented speed.
- While global economy is poised to slow down in the year ahead, but Southeast Asia is expected to be more vibrant due to its young population, rising middle class and rapid digitalisation in the region driving demand for goods and services. That said, UOB is in a sweet spot to provide connectivity for customers (due to its business concentration in the region.)
UOB’s Purpose, Ambition, and Key Differentiators:
- For its Wholesale Banking Business, UOB aims to be the number one trade bank in ASEAN, with its strength in connectivity and sector specialisation being key differentiators;
- On the Retail front, UOB wants to be the bank of choice for all aspiring individuals in ASEAN by offering them personalised services and solutions;
- Cutting across all segments, UOB embrace sustainability, embedding Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) initiatives in everything they do, focusing on delivering real impact for their customers, stakeholders, and colleagues;
- UOB wants employee pride to be the bank’s most important differentiator, by building upon its value-based culture to help people to flourish.
- 2022 as a milestone year for UOB, where they acquired Citigroup’s consumer banking businesses (which are proven to be robust) in 4 ASEAN markets – Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam. The move will help the bank diversify earnings across products and countries while creating cross-sell opportunities.
- Deal was funded with capital buffers set aside over the years. Timing was opportune as it allowed UOB to ride on the momentum as market reopen (post-pandemic.)
Supporting Customers to Seize Regional Opportunities:
- UOB’s wholesale banking teams have supported many clients to help them reconfigure their supply chains to reshape and to onshore their businesses.
- The bank’s sector specialisation and ground expertise also enables it to support customers in their transition in the face of a stronger sustainability push across the supply chain.
- Its investments in capabilities to support clients in doing cross-border business and expanding to new markets resulted in its cross-border income growing by 12% in 2022 (accounting for about one-third of its Wholesale Banking income.) Transaction banking businesses have also expanded significantly as it contributed 35% towards its Wholesale Banking income. UOB have set sights to become the number one cross-border trade bank in ASEAN.
- In 2022, UOB have combined its Private Bank and Privilege Reserve businesses to create a Private Wealth Group. Despite challenging market conditions, the bank still managed to attract net inflows of more than $8 billion.
Providing Customers with Digital Solutions to Grow:
- UOB have invested heavily on its digital banking platforms to support their customers. In August 2022, UOB TMRW hit a milestone of having digitally acquired one million retail customers since launch.
- For small business clients, the bank had launched an industry first banking app called ‘UOB SME’ between August and November 2022 in Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam, to allow its clients to transact on-the-go securely, along with analysing their cashflow via a comprehensive dashboard in the app and tap data-driven insights. Within the first 3 months of the launch, 55,800 clients had started to use the app, with continued momentum expected through 2023 and beyond.
- In 2022, UOB also extended UOB Infinity (a powerful digital banking platform supporting cash management transactions, digital payments, and trade tools) to the bank’s corporate clients in 8 markets (and the bank is aiming to complete the roll-out to another 2 more markets in 2023.)
Details of UOB’s 81st Annual General Meeting
When? Friday, 21 April 2023
Venue? Pan Pacific Singapore, Pacific 1-3, Level 1, 7 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square, Singapore 039595
From my understanding in the bank’s Notice of AGM, shareholders have the option of attending the meeting in-person, as well as online – I wanted to opt for the latter, but there are no links for me to pre-register. Calls made to the Investors Relation ended up being answered by a general hotline staff and I was asked to send an email to UOBAGM2023@boardroomlimited.com to indicate my interest to attend (which I have already done so and I currently await their response.)
[Update on 27 March 2023]:
I’ve just sought clarification on how we shareholders can opt to attend UOB’s upcoming AGM (to be held on Friday, 21 April 2023, from 3.00pm) online.
All you need to do is to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the following details:
- Full Name (as shown in the CDP/CPF/SRS/Scrip-based records for verification purposes. Joint-account holders must indicate all shareholders’ names as shown in the record);
- NRIC/Passport Number;
- Contact Number;
- Email Address;
- The Manner in which the Shares in UOB are Held (e.g. via CDP, CPF, SRS and/or scrip.)
You will then receive a link to attend the meeting as an observer closer to the meeting date.
- Annual Report
- Notice of AGM
- Letter to Shareholders
- Proxy Form
- Additional Information on Directors Seeking Re-Election
- Frequently Asked Questions about the AGM
Disclaimer: At the time of writing, I am a shareholder of United Overseas Bank Limited.
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