Solid trend - HSH Nordbank with net income before taxes of € 110 million

  • Substantial increase in Group net interest income to € 612 (400) million
  • Decline in administrative expenses to € -447 (-498) million
  • Cost-income ratio improved to 48 (52) %
  • 13 % increase in adjusted Core Bank net income before taxes to € 326 million
  • Outlook: EU agreement in principle exerting a stabilising effect – profit expected for fiscal year 2015

Hamburg/Kiel, December 4, 2015 - Despite public debate on the EU state aid proceedings, HSH Nordbank was again able to post a substantial profit in the first nine months of 2015.

The progress made in operating business with an encouraging increase in net interest income plus cost-cutting effects particularly contributed to net income before taxes of € 110 million as of the end of September. In the previous year, there was a very positive effect from the debt waiver of the guarantors which had largely contributed to a net income before taxes of € 460 million.

As the agreement in principle with the EU Commission on HSH Nordbank was not reached until 19 October 2015, a certain degree of restraint was perceptible in client business in the third quarter. In addition to the continued high premiums payable for the guarantee, the still heavy impairments on the legacy shipping portfolio continued to exert pressure. Moreover, as in the second quarter, there was no further positive effect on income from the debt waiver provided by the two public-sector owners, the states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein.

The earnings for the first nine months show that the Bank is headed in the right direction. In particular, the Core Bank's increase in operating earnings adjusted for all guarantee and exceptional factors as well as legacy assets rose to € 326 (previous year: 288) million, reflecting the growing progress made as a Bank for entrepreneurs.

HSH Nordbank still expects to be able to post positive net income before taxes for 2015 as a whole.

“Over the next few months, we will be using the additional stability and forward planning visibility achieved with the EU agreement to further grow our client business,” said Constantin von Oesterreich, the Chairman of the Management Board of HSH Nordbank. “Following the final completion of the EU proceedings expected in the first half of 2016, we will be stepping up plans for the medium-term privatisation of HSH Nordbank together with our owners.”

The progress made in operating business in the first three quarters resulted in net income before taxes of € 110 (460) million. In the previous year, the substantially larger debt waiver of € 668 million on the part of the guarantors had exerted a very positive effect on net income. At € 289 million, this effect has been far smaller in 2015, only arising in the first quarter. The total expenditure of € 54 million on the European bank levy and the deposit guarantee system of the German Savings Banks Finance Group was also placed on the books in full in the first quarter of the year. Group net result came to € 24 (333) million.

Within loan loss provisioning, pressure was exerted in the first nine months of the year by the additional premium of € -311 million, while the base premium came to € -355 million. All told, the burden arising from the guarantee fees of € -666 million exceeded the relief of a combined € 660 million provided by compensation and the debt waiver. Since 2009, HSH Nordbank has paid a total of € 2.6 billion to its guarantors, the states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, recognising an amount of € 3.5 billion through profit and loss.

Strong net interest income – appreciably lower administrative expenses

At € 853 (879) million, total income came close to the previous year’s figure thanks to a sharp rise in net interest income to € 612 (400) million. It was particularly buoyed by new business, which had been expanded judiciously, as well as generally solid margins. In addition, exceptional effects were produced by hybrid instruments and hedge accounting. On the other hand, negative effects arose from the progress made in winding down risk-exposed legacy assets and loan repayments.

Net trading income and net income from financial investments likewise yielded a positive effect, although as expected it was less pronounced than in the previous year. Reflecting volatile conditions in the financial and foreign-exchange markets, net trading income contributed € 87 (131) million to earnings. At € 54 (267) million, net income from financial investments fell short of the same period of the previous year, which had benefited to a greater extent from positive valuation effects and asset sales as part of liquidity management and portfolio wind-down. Moreover, it came under pressure from the allowance made for equity holding risks.

Despite the heavy regulatory requirements, administrative expenses were reduced again under the ongoing cost-cutting programme and, at € -447 (-498) million at the end of September 2015 were appreciably lower than in the previous year. The Bank plans to scale administrative expenses down to € 500 million per year by 2018 in order to achieve a sustainably competitive cost base. As of 30 September 2015, the Bank had 2,449 (31 December 2014: 2,579) full-time employees. Accordingly, personnel expenses dropped to € -205 (-213) million. Operating expenses were lowered to € -242 (-285) million thanks to the targeted management of individual cost items. The cost/income ratio improved to 48 (52) percent due to the lower administrative expenses.

Earning power improved – focus on expansion of new business

The Core Bank, in which the strategic business divisions of HSH Nordbank are pooled, generated total income of € 598 (563) million in the first nine months of 2015 thanks to increased net interest income. The Core Bank’s net interest income from operations, which reflects the Bank’s earning power in client business, rose by twelve percent to € 475 (426) million.

Comprising various banking services beyond loan financing, the cross-selling result rose to an encouraging € 201 (198) million due to greater product sales.

The Core Bank’s new business came to € 6.4 billion in the first nine months of 2015, thus falling short of the previous year’s high figure of € 7 billion. This reflects the market-induced borrowing restraint on the part of corporate clients as well as the overall slightly softer demand ahead of the EU agreement in principle, which had not yet been reached at the end of September. At the same time, the Bank continued to strictly observe its own internal risk parameters and earnings targets, additionally scaling back new shipping business in the light of the very difficult market conditions and the volatile US dollar. The quality of the Core Bank portfolio benefited from the discharge of existing loans which had been granted subject to less favourable earnings and risk parameters in relative terms.

As loan repayments offset the effects of increased new business, the Core Bank’s total assets at the end of the first nine months came to € 75 (31 December 2014: 76) billion. What is more, the deliberately swifter wind-down of risk assets left traces at the Group level, causing total Group assets to contract to € 105 (31 December 2014: 110) billion.

Loan loss provisioning for ships exerting pressure

In the first nine months of 2015, loan loss provisioning was dominated by heavy allocations for the shipping portfolio in response to the sustained difficult market conditions. Restructuring activities, which increasingly sought to run off risk-exposed ship loans, likewise left traces. On the other hand, the risk situation in the other divisions remained inconspicuous. Net reversals were recorded for corporate and real estate client portfolios due to loan repayments and improved risk assessments.

Net loan loss provisioning of € -306 (-256) million was accompanied by the compensating effect of € 349 million under the guarantee. This comprises the gross compensation for the guaranteed portfolio and the forex result of a total of € 371 million, less the additional premium of € -311 million plus an amount of € 289 million from the debt waiver. Adjusted for these compensation effects under the guarantee, net loan loss provisioning came to a positive € 43 million, which was down on the previous year’s figure of € 387 million due to the significantly smaller debt waiver.

Despite opposing currency-translation effects, total assets in the Restructuring Unit dropped to € 30 (34) billion due to the systematic and recently intensified wind-down of legacy assets, particularly those denominated in US dollars.

Solid Common Equity Tier 1 ratio

The capital ratios reported as of 30 September 2015 remained solid. Thus, the Common Equity Tier 1 ratio (CET1) in accordance with the Basel III (phased in) transition rules stood at 12.8 percent (including a buffer of 2.7 percentage points due to the capital protection clause). Even on the assumption of Basel III fully loaded, the CET 1 ratio stood at a solid 12 percent (including a buffer of 2 percentage points).

Risk-weighted assets (RWA) dropped by € 1.1 billion over 31 December 2014 to € 38.4 billion. In this connection, the increase in RWA resulting from payments disbursed in new business and the appreciation of the US dollar (EUR/USD 1.12 as of 30 September vs. EUR/USD 1.21 as of 31 December 2014) was more than offset by the reduction arising from the sharp cut in the portfolio.

Outlook: Implementation of the EU agreement in principle

The agreement in principle reached by the EU Commission and the public-sector owners of HSH Nordbank on 19 October of this year will be fleshed out in greater detail over the coming months. Under the agreement, non-performing loans of up to € 6.2 billion are to be transferred to the majority shareholders, the states of Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, and a further portfolio of up to € 2 billion sold via the market alongside the ongoing portfolio run-off acitivities Any losses arising from this will be covered by the second-loss guarantee. At the same time, HSH Nordbank’s operating company will pay significantly lower fees for the guarantee under its new structure. The final conclusion of the EU state aid proceedings is expected in the first half of 2016.

HSH Nordbank assumes that the fourth quarter of this year will materially be characterised by the positive agreement in principle reached with the EU Commission and that material effects arising from this will show up in the Group financial statements for 2015.

Income Statement (EUR m) Jan.-Sept. 2015 Jan.-
Sept. 2014
Change in

Interest income 3,337 3,909 -15
Interest expenses -2,637 3,323 -21
Net income from hybrid financial instruments -88 -186 53
Net interest income
612 400 53
Net commission income 88 103 -15
Result from hedging 12 -24 >100
Net trading income 87 131 -34
Net income from financial investments 54 267 -80
Net income from investments accounted for using the equity method - 2 -100
Total income
853 879 -3
Loan loss provisions 43 387 -89
Administrative expenses -447 -498 -10
Other operating income 74 80 -8
Expenses for European bank levy -40 - >100
Net income before restructuring
483 848 -43
Result from restructuring -18 2 >-100
Expenses for government guarantees -355 -390 -9
Net income before taxes
110 460 -76
Income tax expenses -86 -127 -32
Group net result
24 333 -93
Group net income attributable to non-controlling interests 1 1 -
Group net results attributable to HSH Nordbank shareholders 23 332 -93
Additional key figures of HSH Nordbank Group 30.09.2015 31.12.2014
Total assets (in € bn) 105 110
Risk assets (RWA; in € bn) 38,4 39,5
Common Equity Tier 1 ratio (CET1 ratio, phased in) (%)1) 2) 12.8 12.6
Core capital ratio (%) 1) 14.1 14.4
Regulatory capital ratio (%) 1) 18.4 18.7
Full-time staff (FTEs) 2,449 2,579

1) Pursuant to same period calculation under the rules of the Capital Requirements Regulation (CRR).
2) Incl. a buffer of 2.7 (30.9.2015) or of 2.6 percentage points (31.12.2014) from the capital protection clause.

The information contained in this press release does not constitute an offer for the sale of any type of Hamburg Commercial Bank AG securities. Securities of Hamburg Commercial Bank AG may not be sold in the United States without registration pursuant to US securities legislation, unless such a sale takes place on the basis of relevant exceptional provisions.

This press information can contain forward-looking statements. These statements are based on our beliefs and assumptions, on information currently available to us which we consider reliable. Forward-looking statements include all statements which are not historical facts, including information concerning future growth prospects and future economic developments.

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