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24th September 2012
ECFH Group Posts Half-Year Results

The first half of 2012 has shown some encouraging trends for the ECFH Group, with Operating Income increasing by 2% over 2011.  The improved level of income has been achieved in spite of a continuing challenging investment and business environment, in what remains a low growth regional and world economy. These economic realities continue to affect the investment and loan portfolios, and provision for impaired assets, continue to impact on the Group’s performance. This remains evident in the case of Bank of Saint Lucia Limited. However, the Group’s capital remains very strong placing it in the position to take full advantage of opportunities during the recovery period. 
The Group’s strategy of diversifying its business interests continues to be successful, as Bank of Saint Lucia International Ltd and Bank of St Vincent and the Grenadines have both continued to perform very well in 2012 contributing positively to the Group’s profitability. 
The Group is currently pursuing a number of strategic initiatives to restructure its operational processes and integrate a number of business operations, with the objective of improving cost efficiencies, customer service delivery and building strength and capacity to achieve enhanced profitability. As part of these initiatives, with effect from June, Mortgage Finance Company of Saint Lucia Limited’s business was amalgamated with that of Bank of Saint Lucia Limited.
Internationally, there have been sporadic signs of recovery but these have not been sustained and the US and European economies continue to under-perform. There is little optimism that recovery may occur within the next year with Saint Lucia and the Caribbean Region being highly dependent on Global economic performance. 
Total Group Assets at $3.5 billion remained in line with June 2011, representing a growth of almost 11% over the year ended 31st December 2011. This growth, driven by an increase in customer deposits to $2.6 billion, was achieved by both the international and domestic banking businesses.  Loan demand has continued to grow at a rate of around 5% per annum. The total loan portfolio of the Group now stands at almost $1.9 billion. 
Profit after tax for the Group was $12.8 million for the six month period to June 2012. Annualised return on assets and return on equity were 0.7% and 6.0% respectively and diluted earnings per share were $0.42 at June 2012 compared to $0.46 at the 2011 half year. 
Taking all of these factors into account and in projecting the performance of the Group for the rest of the year, the Board of Directors has declared an interim dividend of ten (10) cents per share (the same as in 2011) which will be paid to all shareholders on record at 12th September, 2012. The interim dividend pay-out will be made in October 2012.

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