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Singapore's best domestic bank 2017: DBS


After seven years as DBS boss, Piyush Gupta could be excused for scratching his head in frustration. In August, he brought home another record net profit for DBS of S$2.35 billion ($1.75 billion) for the first half of 2017.

That was 4% more than analysts’ forecasts and enabled the bank to pay a 10% higher dividend to shareholders for the half. Net interest income was 3% higher at S$1.89 billion, loans were up by 6%, which cushioned softer margins. Fee income was at a record high and non-performing loans were at a manageable 1.5%. It all spoke to Gupta’s steady-as-you-go hand at the tiller of the state-controlled Singapore giant of more 22,000 staff.

But what happened next? DBS shares fell 2% in the hours after the profit announcement amidst asset quality concerns that Gupta also (prudently) flagged. The shares would soon correct but the episode does not take away from DBS securing its top slot in Singapore banking; a 51% market share for retail savings accounts, and 29% share of the mortgage market. DBS leads in bancassurance with a 32% market share and is also Singapore’s largest credit and debit card issuer, with around five million cards in circulation.

It’s also throwing its weight around the Asean region, going after a private banking market that traditional custodians like Julius Baer and Société Générale had retreated from, just as Indonesia teased out billions in a tax amnesty that DBS now has its eye on after big recent acquisitions in that space.