SINGAPORE DBS Group Holdings Ltd, Singapore's biggest lender, beat market expectations by reporting stable quarterly profit on Tuesday, underpinned by a record performance in its wealth management business.
Chief Executive Piyush Gupta has rapidly expanded wealth management operations, helped by medium-sized acquisitions, while the broader outlook for Singapore banks remains cautious as lenders struggle with their exposure to the stressed oil and gas services sector.
DBS reported net profit of S$1.21 billion ($867 million) in January-March versus S$1.20 billion a year earlier and compared with an average forecast of S$1.09 billion from four estimates compiled by Reuters. Total income was up 1 percent.
"Our business pipeline is healthy, consistent with the recent improvement in economic data for key markets," Gupta said in a statement.
"While asset quality pressures appear to be moderating, we remain vigilant to continued headwinds in the oil and gas support services sector."
Net fee and commission income rose 16 percent, driven by a 26 percent jump in wealth management fees to a quarterly record of S$222 million and gains in transaction services and investment banking fees.
The bank's net interest income was unchanged at S$1.83 billion as the impact of softer Singapore-dollar interest rates was offset by higher loan volumes.
Last week, smaller peer United Overseas Bank posted a rise in quarterly profit on the back of higher net interest income and trading income.
($1 = 1.3961 Singapore dollars)
(Reporting by Anshuman Daga; Editing by Stephen Coates)